The NBA is filled with intriguing storylines, from former playoff foes facing off, to players returning home to their old team, to long-time rivalries clashing for the latest time. If you're anything like us at Clips Nation, you'll find yourself watching all 82 of the Clippers' games this season--but if that isn't for you, here are the top 10 regular-season Clippers games that you won't want to miss.
10. vs Utah Jazz, October 30th
Who can forget the home opener? The Jazz come into this game looking to prove that their off-season moves push them into the top half of the West, and the Clippers will be defending both their place on the totem pole and their home court in their first STAPLES game of the year. Don't forget the last time these teams met--the Clippers' back-ups shocked Utah late in the season, heading into Salt Lake City without their starters and defeating a Jazz team that needed a win to make the playoffs. This match-up might not have a chippy history, but there's gonna be some extra emotion this time around.
9. @ Los Angeles Lakers, December 25th
It's the nighttime ESPN game, the last of 5 nationally televised Christmas Day games for the NBA. Sure, the Lakers don't figure to be super compelling this year, and sure, it's a re-match from last Christmas, and sure, your entire holiday will be ruined if LAC loses--but you can't deny how special the NBA makes their Christmas quintuple-header, and this will be the biggest stage that the Battle of L.A. could possibly see.
8. @ Sacramento Kings, November 18th
The Kings might not be as good as some of the other teams on this list, but something always seems to happen when these two squads face off. DeMarcus Cousins is, of course, the most notorious instigator in the league, and he'll be going up against DeAndre Jordan in a battle of Team USA centers. This will also be the Clippers' first regular-season game at Golden 1 Arena, the Kings' new home, which brings a level of excitement and unfamiliarity, but also dials up the Kings' pride as they seek to protect the new court.
7. vs Cleveland Cavaliers, March 18th
It's one of my beloved Saturday evening games, this time featuring the King, LeBron James, and his defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. This game is just late enough in the season that we'll be seeing both teams in their final form, but just early enough to avoid the possibility of star players resting. And who knows, maybe it's a preview of the 2017 NBA Finals?
6. vs San Antonio Spurs, December 22
This is the Clippers' only good match-up with San Antonio--two are on the second night of tough back to backs (Memphis and Golden State), and the last comes in the closing days of the season. That last game could be a crucial battle for seeding to determine the 2-seed and home court in the second round, but the standings could also already be locked in by that point, with both teams resting. Here, on December 22nd, each team has a day off beforehand to get a clean look at the other on TNT Thursday night. This will be a great potential second round preview, as the Clippers will have to learn to play against a Spurs squad that lost Tim Duncan and replaced him with Pau Gasol.
5. vs Memphis Grizzlies, November 16th
These two teams meet earlier in the month in Memphis, but it's in the midst of a rough stretch for LAC and not on the national broadcast slate. Here, on the 16th in Los Angeles, the world will get to watch these noted rivals in their newest forms go to battle--both hopefully healthy from injuries that derailed their last season, and Memphis with a new face: Chandler Parsons, who they added to a massive contract in July.
4. vs Oklahoma City Thunder, November 2nd
The Thunder always gave the Clippers problems, but now they're weakened by the loss of Kevin Durant. While there's obviously less talent on the floor, Russell Westbrook is still one of the most dominant players in the NBA, and he's going to be on a mission all season long. A national TV game against a team that experts are putting above OKC? You'd better bet Russ is going to put on a show.
3. @ Portland Trail Blazers, October 27th
Oh boy--this is gonna be a good one. The Clippers, angry and motivated, will start the season with a chance to take down the team that eliminated them last spring. After injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin tanked the Clippers' hopes in game 4, the Blazers won the last 3 games of the series to send L.A. packing. This isn't Portland's home opener (they play Utah on the 25th), but I don't think the Clippers will mind--and I don't think Damian Lillard is going to take this one lightly either.
2. vs Golden State Warriors, December 7th
It's a Wednesday night ESPN game, and everyone's going to be watching to see how the Clippers do in their first meeting with the Kevin Durant-era Warriors. For their first meeting, the Warriors head south to STAPLES Center, and the league didn't even mess it up this time and put the Clippers on a back-to-back! They'll have 2 days of rest both before and after this game, so we'll see the key players in full force. The Warriors will be playing on the first night of a back-to-back, but with Utah the next night, you'd better bet that they'll be focused on their first meeting with the Clippers
1. @ Golden State Warriors, January 28
First of all, this game is a Saturday evening ABC game, which I really enjoy. But beyond that, it presents a unique opportunity for the Clippers--coming off of three days of rest, and heading into three more, the Clippers will have a chance to throw the kitchen sink at the Warriors to nab an elusive win at Oracle. I'll be keeping this match-up in the back of my mind all season, since the teams' two final meetings in February are both the second game of a back-to-back for one team or the other.
Are you upset that Golden State not only made the list twice, but got the two top spots? I wasn't planning on it, but it's pretty undeniable--the most compelling match-ups are against the noted rival that's in the conversation for the best of all time, and we're going to see players from both teams really get up to play their best games in those match-ups.