NBA

NBA Releases Full Schedule for 2018-19 Season, LeBron's First With Lakers

LeBron James will make his Lakers debut in Portland on Oct. 18 and make his home debut for his new team two days later.

The NBA released its full schedule for the 2018-19 season Wednesday including all 82 Lakers games, highlighted by a Christmas Day matchup in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors.

There are several other key games for the Lakers next season, including the team debut of four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, who signed a four-year, $153 million contract with the Lakers in July. Here are some to watch:

LeBron's First Game as a Laker: Oct. 18 at Portland Trail Blazers

"King James" will make his Lakers debut when the team opens its season on the road, playing in Portland against the Trail Blazers. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on TNT. It will be the first time the Lakers have begun a season away from Staples Center since 2005.

James can make an immediate impression on Lakers fans--or at least those who are still reluctant to root for one of the best players in NBA history--by helping the team snap a 15-game losing streak against the Blazers that dates all the way back to 2014.

Home Opener: Oct. 20 vs. Houston Rockets

James' first Lakers game at home will come two days later, when the Lakers play the Houston Rockets on Oct. 20. The game will also start 7:30 p.m. and ESPN will broadcast it nationally in a Saturday night primetime matchup.
It marks the second time in three years the Lakers' home opener has come against Houston, but the two teams' rosters will look far different this time around. This game will feature three of the "Banana Boat" quartet, a group of NBA stars that came into the league at the same time and stayed close through the years: James, Rockets guard Chris Paul, Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade. 

James' first Lakers game at Staples will come two days later, when the Lakers play the Houston Rockets. The game will start at 7:30 p.m. and ESPN will broadcast it nationally in a Saturday night primetime matchup.

It marks the second time in three years the Lakers' home opener has come against Houston, but the two teams' rosters will look far different this time around. This game will feature three of the Banana Boat quartet, a group of NBA stars that came into the league at the same time and stayed close through the years: James, Rockets guard Chris Paul, Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Kawhi Comes Home: Nov. 4 vs. Toronto Raptors

After superstar and former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard spent most of the summer trying to force a trade from the San Antonio Spurs to his hometown Lakers, the Spurs dealt him to the Toronto Raptors on July 19.

Leonard, who grew up in Riverside, reportedly wants to play in Los Angeles long term. The Raptors' early season trip to LA may serve as an extended audition for both Leonard and the Lakers before the forward hits free agency next summer. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sportsnet.

Return of the King: Nov. 21 at Cleveland Cavaliers

James solidified his legacy as a hero in Cleveland, near his hometown of Akron, Ohio, when he returned to the team that drafted him in 2014 and led the Cavaliers to their first and still only NBA championship two years later. When he first departed the Cavaliers in free agency, signing with the Miami Heat in 2010, Clevelanders burned his jersey and mercilessly booed him in his first game back.

This time around, however, the city's response to James' move has been much more appreciative. With images of the legendary comeback over the Warriors in the thrilling 2016 NBA Finals still fresh in Cleveland sports fans' minds, James could get a much warmer reception when the Lakers journey to his old home arena in November. The game starts at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

Christmas in Oakland: Dec. 25 at Golden State Warriors

This will mark LeBron James' fourth straight Christmas game against Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the defending champion Warriors. James' Cleveland Cavaliers teams have played the Warriors on the holiday in each of the past three seasons, all of which came after the two squads faced off in the NBA Finals the previous June.

James' last regular season win over the Warriors came during Christmas 2016--when Lakers head coach Luke Walton was still an assistant coach at Golden State. The game will tip off at 5 p.m. on ABC as the fourth of five NBA games that day.

Rated PG-13: Jan. 2 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Lakers were in a similar situation last year with Paul George as they are with Leonard now: an NBA star reportedly wants to force a trade to the Lakers, but gets dealt somewhere else instead. George, however, immediately re-signed with the Thunder in free agency.

The last time George played at Staples, Lakers fans who still believed they had a chance to recruit him started "We Want Paul" chants. However, the Palmdale native's next trip home will likely get a much more icy reception from the purple and gold faithful. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

MLK Day at Staples: Jan. 21 vs. Warriors

The Lakers also get a slot in the NBA's Martin Luther King Jr. day schedule, a rematch with the Warriors at Staples, the site where a young, rebuilding Lakers squad pulled off stunning upsets against the Dubs twice in 2016. Even with James now on the roster, any victory against the NBA's powerhouse would be considered an upset. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. on TNT.

Green vs. Gold: Feb. 7 at Boston Celtics, March 9 vs. Boston Celtics

A new chapter will be written in the NBA's most storied rivalry, with past team legends such as Magic Johnson and Paul Pierce no doubt looking on when the Lakers travel to Boston just before the All-Star break. 

The next battles between the NBA's premier franchises will get an infusion of old, with the Lakers' new jerseys invoking the Showtime era that featured so many legendary Finals series against Boston. There will also be a new twist as James and Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, ex-teammates with the Cavs, now lead their respective teams against one another.

ESPN will broadcast the first game nationally starting at 5 p.m., while the second will be an ABC Saturday primetime special tipping off at 5 p.m.

St. Patty's at the Garden: March 17 at New York Knicks

Madison Square Garden in New York City is nicknamed the Mecca of basketball, and Lakers greats--especially Kobe Bryant--have a long history of signature games in the iconic arena.

James is no exception, having posted double-digit scoring totals in every single career game he has played there, including 50-point performances in 2008 and 2009. He has two triple-doubles in MSG and nearly reached a third there last season when he posted 23 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.

Get up early for this one, which tips off at 9 a.m. on Spectrum Sportsnet.

The Lakers also face several key battles towards the end of the season, as five of their final six games are against likely Western Conference playoff teams such as the New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, Thunder, Warriors and Trail Blazers. You can check out the Lakers' full 82-game schedule here.

Contact Us