Coming off a fifth consecutive year in which they missed the playoffs, optimism is abound for the Los Angeles Lakers. Buoyed by the signing of LeBron James in free agency, many anticipate the Lakers to take another step toward restoring the franchise to its former glory.
Their quest to do so begins Thursday, Oct. 18, when the Lakers face the Portland Trail Blazers for their opener of the 2018-19 NBA regular season. Somewhat surprisingly, L.A. was not selected to play on Opening Night.
Furthermore, James makes his Lakers debut on the road. His first home game at Staples Center comes two nights later, against James Harden, Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets.
Another notable date on the Lakers schedule is Nov. 21, when James returns to Quicken Loans Arena to face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time.
Although they were passed over on the first night of the season, the Lakers do play on Christmas Day, facing the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. It marks a fourth consecutive year James clashes with the Warriors on the holiday.
For the Lakers, it’s just the fourth time they won’t be at Staples Center on Christmas since the 1999-2000 season. They previously spent Christmas on the road against the Miami Heat in 2005 and 2006, and Chicago Bulls in 2014.
Paul George returns to Staples Center on Jan. 2, 2019, for the first time since spurning the Lakers in free agency in favor of re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Julius Randle and the New Orleans Pelicans make the first of two visits on Friday, Dec. 21.
The storied rivalry with the Boston Celtics won’t begin until Feb. 7, 2019, with a matchup at the TD Garden. Boston visits Staples Center on March 9. Another layer has been added this season with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving leading their respective teams.
The Lakers’ complete 2018-19 regular season schedule can be viewed below. Of the first 10 games, eight are against teams that won at least 45 games last season.
Their longest road trip is five games and 12 days, from Feb. 1-12, and the longest homestand is four games over nine days, from Jan. 21-29.
The Lakers will make 43 appearances on national television (four on ABC, 12 on NBA TV, 13 on TNT, 14 on ESPN), which is up from the 35 made last season.