Every NBA offseason presents a new set of narratives and storylines surrounding so many teams, and this one has been no exception. Major trades took place, notable free agents departed, and many organizations made significant culture changes. Today the NBA released its 2017-18 schedule, and we couldn’t be more excited for all 82 here at Clips Nation. We know you are too, but if you can’t catch them all, here are 10 Clippers games you must mark on your calendar.
October 19th: L.A. Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers
This will be the first game of the regular season for both teams, and the first of 31 nationally-broadcasted games for the Clippers. Presented by TNT, it will be the first glimpse for the NBA world of two teams who have each had a very busy offseason. The new-look Clippers are without Chris Paul, but acquired some key players in Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, and Milos Teodosic. The Lakers are now without D’Angelo Russell, but drafted 2nd-overall pick Lonzo Ball and added free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The Clippers and Lakers will both be in the running during 2018 free agency and have 82 games to make their case. Though the Clippers are much further along in their overall journey, the “Battle for L.A.” narratives begin on this night, so don’t miss it!
October 21st: L.A. Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
While the Suns might be far less formidable an opponent than any other team on this list, it’s the home-opener for the Clippers. Clippers fans have had a nervous tension for the last couple of seasons because of the urgency for Lob City to get to the Finals, and to get started immediately. Well, this season’s Clippers team is far different, sporting a new identity and more youth. They took a bit of a step back, but this season will be all about jelling and playing with a new offensive mentality. For all the raucous fans in attendance, and for those at home, it will be the first chance to watch all the new faces bring some fun and breathe some life back into meaningful games on the Clippers’ home court. The first Gallinari bucket, the first Beverley steal, and the first Teodosic lob will all have fans in a frenzy. Let’s just hope Devin Booker doesn’t put up 70 points and spoil all the fun.
October 30th: L.A. Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
The rivalry between the Clippers and Warriors will live on for quite some time. The reigning champs are expected to steamroll the rest of the league this season, so that rivalry is pretty lopsided right now. But the Clippers have a team that the Warriors haven’t seen before, and while there’s no denying who’s favored, there will be some unique mismatches. It will, at the very least, be stylistically unpredictable for the Clippers. We know exactly what the Warriors will bring. But the Clippers have stocked-up on youth, size, and defensive energy to now give themselves a chance. And who knows, maybe they’ll get lucky.
November 13th: L.A. Clippers vs. Philadelphia 76ers
This season, the next phase of the “Trust the Process” movement begins for the 76ers. Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz will make their NBA debuts, and Joel Embiid is expected to be at full health by the start of the season. They’ve been bad for quite some time, but this team is loaded with young talent and is expected to take a pretty big leap. It will also be the return to L.A. for J.J. Redick, who could give Clippers guards problems all night. Expect this to be a close and competitive game, as point forwards Griffin and Simmons face off.
December 6th: L.A. Clippers @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Perhaps no team took a bigger leap this offseason than the Timberwolves. After trading for Jimmy Butler for pennies on the dollar, as well as signing Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson, they figure to be a perennial playoff team as long as their core remains together. And that’s a core that includes Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Gorgui Dieng. This game will be a must-watch beyond its playoff implications, because it will mean the return of fan-favorite Jamal Crawford to the Clippers home court. He will, no doubt, receive a warm welcome from the home crowd, but it should be a gritty, competitive matchup.
December 22nd: L.A. Clippers @ Houston Rockets
This game just can’t arrive soon enough. It might be the most anticipated of all of the Clippers’ games this season because it is the rare type that presents equal parts competition and narrative. Chris Paul and Luc Mbah a Moute, Clippers last season, are now Rockets. Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, and Lou Williams, Rockets last season, are now Clippers. Also, it features Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, James Harden, Danilo Gallinari, and two very competitive head coaches. All the stories about the animosity have probably been blown way out of proportion. But you just know sparks are going to fly because of all the hype, so get your popcorn for this one.
January 15th: L.A. Clippers vs. Houston Rockets
It cannot be overstated just how immensely important Chris Paul was to the Clippers and the Los Angeles community. When Paul arrived in town back in 2011, he brought a wealth of basketball intelligence and the leadership to match. Blake Griffin was the first face of change for the Clippers, but Paul was the guy who pushed them into contention. He propelled them to six straight seasons in the playoffs, equally impactful at both ends of the floor all the while. His high character and philanthropic nature made him such an important figure in Los Angeles, and it was tough for Clippers fans to see him go. His charitable endeavors are still alive and well in the community, and it should be noted that his departure was not an ugly one. He and the Clippers both needed change and moved on in the best way possible. He should receive a standing ovation from the fans at Staples Center, for everything he did for the Clippers organization to help make it the destination it is today.
January 24th: L.A. Clippers vs. Boston Celtics
Just about any game featuring the Celtics is must-watch television because they play with a level of intensity and emotion that is very uncommonly exhibited from an entire roster. Brad Stevens, a master motivator and tactician, lost Avery Bradley but now has Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum in his arsenal. Everyone in their starting five can score with versatility, making them a very dangerous team this year. They are deep and full of youth, and this will be a tough one for the Clippers. Most importantly, though, it will be exciting television.
March 9th: L.A. Clippers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
It’s always must-watch television when LeBron James is present. This one is a Friday night matchup in Los Angeles and it’s on NBA TV, so it should be a star-studded event. The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a turbulent offseason, but they’re still the favorites in the East until someone proves otherwise. Kyrie Irving may also be in another uniform by this game, and who knows what other changes will be made by then. This game will also take place about a month ahead of the end of the regular season, so the LeBron-is-leaving-town rumors should be ramping up pretty heavily.
March 30th: L.A. Clippers @ Portland Trail Blazers
The Clippers and Blazers have formed a pretty solid rivalry in recent years. In almost every game between the two, some chippiness occurs between either players or head coaches. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum always play like they’ve got something to prove, and Jusuf Nurkic will have had nearly a full season with the Blazers by this date. And don’t sleep on late first round selection Caleb Swanigan, who could become a very impactful rotation player during the season. What will make this game most exciting, though, are the playoff implications. This matchup could end up being the difference in each team either making the playoffs or snagging a favorable seed. Either way, it won’t disappoint.