There's no doubt that the biggest nights of the NBA regular season for fans are opening night and Christmas. It's funny to put such importance on two nights early in the season, but it makes sense: fans are dying for action by the time opening night rolls around, and the NBA has done an excellent job over the years into making 13 hours of nationally-televised basketball on Christmas day a tradition.
In the NBA world, there can be up to 3 different meanings for "opening night"--the first night of the season (when only a few high-profile games are played), the first game of the season for an individual team, and the first home game of the season for an individual team.
We saw this in the Clippers' case last year, when "Opening Night" for the league was October 27th, "Opening Night" for the Clippers was October 28th in Sacramento, and the "Home Opener" for the Clippers was October 29th against Dallas.
The Clippers won't be in action for the NBA's big opening night, and home fans won't even get to see them at STAPLES the next two nights, either. They'll open on the road against Portland on October 27th, the third day of the regular season, before travelling back to Los Angeles and playing their home opener in a Sunday matinee against the Utah Jazz on October 30th.
An opener against Portland is a fun rematch for a Clippers team that fell to the Trail Blazers in the first round after a series of devastating injuries. I'll take an angry and motivated Chris Paul, combined with a (hopefully) healthy Blake Griffin taking the court for the first time in 10 months. This will be Portland's 2nd game, as they play on October 25th, opening night.
The home opener against Utah is interesting. The Jazz figure to be one of the most improved teams in the league next season: they were already up-and-coming before barely missing the playoffs last year, and they made some solid off-season moves that put them squarely in the Western Conference playoff picture. Some pundits are already placing Utah in the top half of the West, and a trip to L.A. for the Clippers' home opener is a great early test.
About two months later, on Christmas, the Clippers will face a rematch against the Los Angeles Lakers in the newest episode of the "Battle of L.A.". Last season, the Clippers dealt with the Lakers easily, winning by 10 but leading by 28 entering the fourth quarter before letting up in garbage time. It'll be a good look at the new, young, Kobe-less Lakers, and it should be a game that the Clippers can put away easily once again.
Here's the full schedule for Christmas day:
|Time (Pacific)||Away Team||Home Team||Network|
|9:00 am||Boston Celtics||New York Knicks||ABC|
|11:30 am||Golden State Warriors||Cleveland Cavaliers||ABC|
|2:00 pm||Chicago Bulls||San Antonio Spurs||ABC|
|5:00 pm||Minnesota Timberwolves||Oklahoma City Thunder||ESPN|
|7:30 pm||Los Angeles Clippers||Los Angeles Lakers||ESPN|
The Clippers' Christmas game is also the first leg of a back-to-back again, as they'll face the Denver Nuggets at STAPLES on December 26th.
Stay tuned for TONS of in-depth looks at the Clippers schedule.