Serious buzz has developed over the Los Angeles Lakers‘ upcoming season and although this year presents something of a rebuilding year for Los Angeles’ favorite basketball organization, (sorry Clippers, gotta win a few ‘ships first) there are some key games that will provide both drama and great basketball.
1. vs. Los Angeles Clippers (Oct. 29)
Ah, yes … the season opener. Basketball will finally be back and what better way to open the season than by facing the hometown rival. There will be so many questions surrounding this game. Will Kobe Bryant play? How will Doc Rivers pan out as the new coach for the Clippers? Can the Clippers continue their dominance over the Lakers after sweeping the season series last year? For the Lakers, this game is very important. For one, it is the first game of the season. With or without Kobe, the Lakers need to send a message to the league that they are contenders, if they in fact wish to make the playoffs and remain relevant. Taking down the Clippers, who have made offseason moves to become a powerhouse in the Western Conference, will be a great way to start the season, especially if they get the W without Kobe.
2. vs. Golden State Warriors (Nov. 22)
This will be the first time Golden State comes to L.A. in the 2013-14 campaign. With Kobe likely to not play the season opener, it will also be the first opportunity for the Black Mamba to impose revenge on the team he tore his Achilles against. All Lakers fans expect Kobe to explode for some ridiculous amount of points. While this should not be an expectation, it would not be surprising at all if the Mamba put his stamp on the game with a very memorable performance. For those who have forgotten, or who have successfully removed from their memory… here is that devastating incident in April.
3. at Oklahoma City Thunder (Feb. 13)
This is the first very important test for the Lakers against one of the true favorites in the Western Conference. OKC has been one of the stronger teams in the West for a while now and that’s not expected to change anytime soon. Russell Westbrook will undoubtedly be at full strength for this contest and the combination of him and Kevin Durant will pose a huge threat to the Lakers. While the Lakers might not be on the same level as the Thunder right now, this is still a big game because it’s a midseason test for the strength of this squad. If the Lakers can compete with the Thunder then maybe a playoff berth won’t be out of the question. If they get blown out, however, then it might be time to pull the plug on the season and start thinking about maximizing draft position.
4. vs. Houston Rockets (Feb. 17)
The boos will rain far and wide from the state of California as Dwight Howard makes his return to Staples Center. It will be hectic, loud, barbaric and will resemble a war zone that will include abusive and ruthless Lakers fans. Not only will this game provide intense drama, but it will also feature some of the league’s best players. Kobe, along with Pau Gasol of the Lakers, will face off against James Harden, Dwight Howard and Jeremy Lin of the Rockets. Stars will fill the basketball court to put on a spectacular display of basketball. The drama of D12 returning to L.A. just adds to the greatness of the game. Mark your calendars basketball fans; this game will not disappoint. I can’t even begin to imagine how expensive seats on the floor will be for this game.
5. vs. San Antonio Spurs (March 19)
By itself, this game isn’t particularly appealing. The Spurs and Lakers have had a rivalry for the last 15 some-odd years, but these two teams aren’t exactly on the same level heading into next season and that will be readily apparent by the middle of March. However, this is the end of a crucial stretch that could make or break L.A.’s season. On March 6, the Lakers begin a very tough stretch by taking on the Clippers within the friendly confines of the Staples Center. Next, they travel to the Pepsi Center for a contest with the Denver Nuggets. After that, they get to play consecutive games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and then back-to-back matches with the Spurs. This matchup is the start of a very tough stretch that could make or break the Lakers season. A win here could propel the Lakers forward and give them extreme confidence that will help them secure a playoff berth.