The Lakers will begin their NBA championship defense just two and a half months after winning it, but Anthony Davis said he believes the team will be ready from December 22.
“Everyone comes after you, you have a target on your back,” he said. “So I think you’ll find that motivation.”
The Lakers now know the first half of their way back to a title, with the NBA releasing its 37-game schedule through March 3. They have 15 games on national TV and seven more on NBA TV. That starts at home with star-studded matchups against the Clippers on opening night, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks at Christmas, and Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on December 28.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel is evident in a revised full-season structure of 72 games (10 games less than usual): the Lakers’ first road trip includes two games against San Antonio, followed by two against Memphis , which is unusual. MLB style couples. The Lakers won’t take a more conventional journey until January 21, when they meander through seven Eastern Conference cities. That trip is preceded by a home game against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors against Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 18).
The first half of the season includes high profile games with other title contenders, including in Milwaukee (January 21), in Boston (January 30) and two games against Western Conference final against Denver (home February 4, absence on 14). Those are precursors to major home games with a tilt on February 18 with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, followed by a home game on February 20 against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat, their opponent in the October NBA final.
There is also a solemn night on the program: On January 27, the Lakers will play a year and a day after his death in Philadelphia, the birthplace of Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers went 52-19 last season and led the Western Conference. While Coach Frank Vogel spoke of ‘easing’ his players into training camp and pre-season, he said that once the regular season begins, the Lakers want an aggressive mindset once again – regardless of travel or rest concerns.
“When we go into the season, we definitely play every game we play to outplay our opponent and care more about that night’s victory than our opponent,” he said. “Because that’s the habit you can build during the regular season, the habit is to win. And having that mindset every time we hit the floor paid off in the playoffs, and that’s got to be the mindset this year. ”
The released schedule continues through the All-Star Break starting March 5 (although there will be no All-Star Game this year). The Lakers expect to play their home games at Staples Center without fans, although they expect there will be a championship ceremony against the Clippers on opening night. Tip-offs are also earlier than usual for home games, due to an increased concern for television viewers.
The first half of the schedule features five sets of back-to-back games and a home stand for five games.
During the first half of the season, all 30 teams play 37 or 38 games, including between 17 and 20 home games. Of the total of 1,080 games that will be played in this regular season, 558 are scheduled so far.
LAKERS 2020-21 SCHEDULE (all times Pacific)
December 22 – Clippers, 7pm
December 25 – Dallas, 5 p.m.
December 27 – Minnesota, 7 p.m.
December 28 – Portland, 7 p.m.
December 30 – in San Antonio, 5:30 pm
January 1 – in San Antonio, 5 p.m.
January 3 – Memphis, 3 p.m.
January 5 – Memphis, 5 p.m.
January 7 – San Antonio, 7 p.m.
January 8 – Chicago, 7 p.m.
January 10 – in Houston, 4 p.m.
January 12 – Houston, 5 p.m.
January 13 – in Oklahoma City, 5 p.m.
January 15 – New Orleans, 7 p.m.
January 18 – Golden State, 7 p.m.
January 21 – in Milwaukee, 4:30 pm
January 23 – Chicago, 5 p.m.
January 25 – in Cleveland, 4:30 pm
January 27 – Philadelphia, 4:30 pm
January 28 – Detroit, 4 p.m.
January 30 – Boston, 5:30 p.m.
Feb 1 – Atlanta, 4:30 p.m.
February 4 – Denver, 7 p.m.
February 6 – Detroit, 7 p.m.
Feb 8 – Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.
February 12 – Memphis, 7 p.m.
February 14 – Denver, 4:30 p.m.
February 16 – Minnesota, 5 p.m.
February 18 – Brooklyn, 7 p.m.
February 20 – Miami, 5:30 pm
February 22 – Washington, 7 p.m.
February 24 – in Utah, 7 p.m.
February 26 – Portland, 7 p.m.
February 28 – Golden State, 7 p.m.
March 2 – Phoenix, 7 p.m.
March 3 – in Sacramento, 7 p.m.