LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — With the NBA season just four days away, we break down the seven Lakers games this season that you simply cannot miss.
7.) Jan. 17 vs. Houston Rockets
It’s always fun when ex-Laker Dwight Howard comes back to town and receives a “warm” welcome from the home fans.
After leaving the Lakers for the Houston Rockets, the reception Howard receives at Staples Center isn’t exactly friendly.
The Lakers play the Rockets on Dec. 12 in Houston, but it should be more eventful when Howard returns to Staples Center.
With an easy schedule in November, the Lakers should be in the hunt for the playoffs when the Rockets come to Los Angeles.
6.) Nov. 24 at Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are the defending champions and arguably the most entertaining team to watch in the NBA.
Former Laker Luke Walton is acting as their interim head coach as Steve Kerr remains out with back issues, and it would be fun to see Walton coach against his former squad.
It should be a fun matchup watching rookie D’Angelo Russell go head to head with reigning MVP Stephen Curry.
5.) March 10 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Anytime LeBron James comes into town, it’s big news.
The four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP is his own show, and with Kobe Bryant moving to the small forward position this season, he might be faced with the daunting task of guarding James when he comes to Staples Center in March.
After losing in the NBA Finals last season, the Cavaliers and James are gunning for a title this season and will be an explosive team to watch.
4.) March 13 vs. New York Knicks
Former Lakers fan favorite Derek Fisher will return to Staples Center as the coach of the New York Knicks for just the second time.
Last season, his Knicks defeated the Lakers, 101-94, in his return to his former home stadium, but Bryant did not play in the contest.
It will be very sentimental for Lakers fans to see Bryant in what may be his final season playing on the floor while Fisher coaches against him.
If one coach in the NBA knows how to guard Bryant, it better be Fisher.
3.) Oct. 28 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (Season Opener)
This season for the Lakers is filled with high expectations for rookies and plenty of doubts surrounding the health of Bryant.
Russell is expected to start at point guard for the Lakers, and Julius Randle, who only played in one game last season, is also expected to start for the purple and gold.
The Lakers go up against a young Timberwolves team that features the No. 1 overall draft pick in the previous two NBA drafts (Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins).
Bryant’s status is uncertain due to a lower-leg injury, but all signs point that he will be good to go for the Lakers’ opener.
2.) Dec. 25 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
The battle for Los Angeles will take place on Christmas this year.
The Lakers will technically be the home team for the first matchup of the year for these two teams on Christmas Day.
This means that the Clippers will not be covering the Lakers championship banners in place of their own banners featuring pictures of their star players.
Huge Clippers accomplishment – getting Staples Center to cover up the Lakers banners during their home games. Love it pic.twitter.com/AiU98YOsuZ
— Alan Mowrey (@abmowrey) November 16, 2014
While the Clippers are widely considered to be the better team, the Lakers aren’t going to back down on their home court against a hometown rival.
If Bryant is healthy at this point in the year, expect the 20-year veteran to drop at least 30 points against the Clippers.
1.) April 13 vs. Utah Jazz (Season Finale)
The final game of the season will take place at Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. April 13.
It could be an incredibly emotional scene with the possibility that this could be Bryant’s final season in the NBA.
The five-time NBA champion has not said whether or not this will be his final year, but all signs point to this being Bryant’s last hurrah in the NBA.
Ticket prices will skyrocket for this game, as fans across Los Angeles will scurry to Staples Center to see what could be Bryant’s final game as a Laker, assuming the Lakers do not make the playoffs.
Bryant has done so much for Los Angeles, and Lakers fans across the world are going to be sad to see the legendary player walk off the court for the final time.