It is that time of the year again as the NBA schedule has been officially released, and Los Angeles Lakers fans can begin to look and anticipate their favorite games, and there is no shortage of those this season.
Coming off a disappointing season in which they were ousted in the first round, the Lakers didn’t sit around and just run the same team back, instead adding superstar point guard Russell Westbrook to the championship duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers would then supplement the roster with veterans (Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore) and young players (Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, re-signing Talen Horton-Tucker) alike. Coming into the season, the Lakers are one of the championship favorites, and all eyes will be on them from night one. And these are the games that will have the most eyeballs and anticipation.
Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Lakers – Tuesday, October 19
Opening night gives us two teams considered potential favorites in the Western Conference, but also with major question marks. This will be the first look at Russell Westbrook in a Lakers uniform, and we will get to see how he fits with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Warriors, meanwhile, will be getting All-Star Klay Thompson back and everyone will be closely watching to see how he looks after a torn Achilles and torn ACL in consecutive years.
There are also surely still some residual feelings after last season’s play-in game in which the Lakers defeated the Warriors in a very close and intense game that could have easily gone the other way. Also, it’s LeBron vs. Steph once again, which is always must-see TV, and overall, the winner of this game is sending an early message to the rest of the conference.
Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers – Friday, October 22
The first meeting of these two teams since the Suns ended the Lakers season in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Many believe that the Lakers would have won the series had Anthony Davis not gotten injured, and the team did hold a 2-1 lead before Davis went down. But of course, injuries happen every year, however, and the Suns took care of business all the way to the NBA Finals.
But that series was an extremely testy one with many moments where players needed to be separated and a lot of back and forth between the sides. While some players from the series are gone on both sides, the main characters remain as Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Ayton will be looking to prove that their run last season was no fluke. The Lakers taking down the defending Western Conference champions would be another notch on their belt.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Portland Trail Blazers – Saturday, November 6
No one knows exactly what is happening with the future of the Trail Blazers, but as long as Damian Lillard is on the roster, he is bound for a spot on must-see games. Not only is Lillard one of the best players in the league, but he has been one of the Lakers’ worst nightmares over the past few seasons.
Russell Westbrook now being with the Lakers adds further fuel to the fire as he and Lillard have a great history from Westbrook’s time in Oklahoma City, so that matchup alone will be worth the price of admission. This will also be only the Lakers’ third road game of the early season, and as such, will be the wildest crowd they will have seen to this point.
Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers – Monday, November 15
Everyone’s favorite GOAT will return to Staples Center for the first time in an opposing jersey, and the ovation he receives will undoubtedly be outstanding as he was one of the most beloved Lakers players in recent years. Additionally, the Bulls also added another former Lakers guard in Lonzo Ball, who has made great improvements since leaving L.A.
But it isn’t just about the former Lakers as the Bulls could be one of the most improved teams in the league after acquiring DeMar DeRozan this summer to go with their All-Star duo of Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. Fans will be there to see the return of the player whose exit this offseason hurt the most, but the Lakers as a whole will need to be focused or risk being taken down by a young team looking to establish themselves this year.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Milwaukee Bucks – Wednesday, November 17
The last two NBA Champions meet here, and both squads are, once again, considered to be two of the biggest championship favorites. The matchup between Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo is always fun to watch. But, again, LeBron could be on a mission to show out against the other player to receive best player votes above him.
Even though the Bucks are the defending champs and Giannis put forth one of the greatest Finals performances in recent memory, there are still some who question if their run would have been the same had injuries not ravaged the league.
This is the first stop on the Lakers’ first real road trip of the season, so this stands as an opportunity to get that started on the right track.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics – Friday, November 19
Speaking of that road trip, the second stop takes the Lakers to everyone’s least favorite place, Boston, to renew the greatest rivalry in NBA history. Last year’s contests provided two of the most entertaining games of the Lakers season, including a near-epic comeback by the Lakers’ bench late in the season that was satisfying to fans despite the ultimate loss.
The Celtics, led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, plan on returning to the top half of the East, and this game gives them an early chance to show that they are back. The Lakers will be coming off that Bucks game which will be extremely intense, so they must be careful not to let down in their next contest.
Westbrook’s first time experiencing the Lakers-Celtics rivalry is a must-watch by itself, but any time the Lakers have a chance to send a Boston crowd home sad is a great night.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers – Friday, December 3
Over the past couple of seasons, the Clippers have turned into the biggest rival of the Lakers, with all of their meetings being highly anticipated, very tense, and more often than not extremely entertaining. The injury to Kawhi Leonard takes some of the steam out of this matchup, but with how things have escalated between these teams recently, the atmosphere inside Staples Center will still be just as raucous.
Paul George still gives the Clippers are a star, and the Lakers won’t be holding anything back against this Clippers team that should still be a playoff contender. Any time the Lakers and Clippers are on the floor together, it must be viewed, which does not change this year.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks – Wednesday, December 15
Quite simply, Luka Doncic is must-watch TV, and just about any time he and the Mavericks have faced off with the Lakers recently, it has been a fascinating contest. Once again, the Mavericks are one of the teams looking to leap into the upper echelon of the West, and there is no better way to do so than beating the Lakers.
Now there is even more connection between the two sides as former Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has taken over as the head coach in Dallas. What kind of insight he has on the team now could be used to give Dallas that extra boost, but LeBron and Davis especially will surely be showing no mercy to their former coach despite the love that exists.
Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers – Saturday, December 25
Fans of other teams may not want to hear it, but the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets is the NBA Finals matchup most outside viewers want to see, and this Christmas showdown is the premier matchup of the day. Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis going up against Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving is the most star-studded game the NBA can produce.
The key to this will be health, especially after last season’s injury-filled meetings. Davis and Durant missed the Nets victory in LA, while James, Davis, and Harden were out for the Lakers’ win in Brooklyn. But as long as everyone is on the court, fans will finally get to see which trio reigns supreme and very possibly may get to see it again in June.
Also, considering LeBron’s recent reaction to the best player poll, he could very likely look to make a point against the guy many consider to be in that top spot now. And something tells me Westbrook would be glad to help him do it.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Washington Wizards – Monday, March 19
The biggest move of the offseason was Russell Westbrook being dealt from the Wizards to the Lakers, and though he only spent one season in Washington, Westbrook made an impact. It was his efforts that, in large part, helped push the Wizards to the playoffs after an abysmal start, and he will surely receive a nice ovation for that reason.
Of course, this will also be the first meeting against the Lakers for those dealt away in the deal. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Montrezl Harrell will have some big chips on their shoulder against their former team, especially with rumors that going to Washington was not the expected move. Players against their former team are always fun to watch, but this one, in particular, seems to have a bit extra to it.