The 2018-19 NBA season has officially arrived – sort of.
The league on Friday announced the full schedule for what is sure to be another compelling campaign. There are 1,230 games from Oct. 16 to April 10, with none more intriguing than the ones that include the great LeBron James.
Where will LeBron be? On national television – a lot
The newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers will start his first regular season in purple and gold at Portland on Oct. 18, followed by his first game at Staples Center against Houston two days later. James, whose Lakers don’t leave home for more than one road game until a three-game set that begins on Nov. 17, returns to Cleveland for the first and only time on Nov. 21 to conclude that trip (with two off days prior to that game).
But when it comes to James showcasing his skills for the mainstream masses by way of national television, no team has more opportunities on that stage than his Lakers. Behold the national television standings (combined games on ABC, ESPN, TNT, or NBA TV)
1. Lakers (43)
2. Golden State (40)
t3. Boston, Houston, Philadelphia (39)
4. Oklahoma City (36)
- No other team is in the 30s.
- James’ former team, the Cavs, have just seven appearances (five on NBATV, and two on ESPN)
When are the Kawhi Leonard/DeMar DeRozan reunion games?
There wasn’t a bigger trade this summer than the one that sent DeRozan to San Antonio and Leonard to Toronto. Neither player was thrilled with his respective relocation – at least when the deal went down on July 18. Leonard plays at San Antonio for the first time on Jan. 3, while DeRozan returns to Toronto on Feb. 22.
What’s different about this schedule? Rest, rest and more rest for players
Per the NBA, the number of back-to-back sets are at a historic low for the fourth consecutive season. Teams will average 13.3 this season, down 31% since 2014-15 season (19.3 per team). Last year, it was 14.4 per team. The leaguewide range is 12 to 15 back-to-backs per team (vs. 13 ti 16 last year), with 22 teams having fewer back to backs this season.
For the second consecutive season, there are no four-games-in-five-days sets.
Instances when teams will play five games in seven days has been reduced 42 percent from last season (0.7 per team from 1.2 per team) and 77 percent from the 2016-17 season (3.0 per team).
For the first time in league history, there are no stretches in which a team plays eight games in 12 days.
Other highlights from the schedule, according to the NBA:
-TNT will televise 21 Thursday doubleheaders and 10 Tuesday doubleheaders.
-Week 5: Golden State at Houston (Thursday, Nov. 15, 8 p.m. ET) – The defending champion Golden State Warriors face the Houston Rockets for the first time since their seven-game series in the Western Conference Finals.
– Week 11: Philadelphia at Utah (Thursday, Dec. 27, 10:30 p.m. ET) – Sixers Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons will face the runner-up, Donovan Mitchell, and the Jazz.
ESPN’s regular-season schedule will feature:
-Week 4: Boston at Utah (Friday, Nov. 9, 9:30 p.m. ET) – Celtics forward/guard Gordon Hayward is set to play against his former team for the first time.
-Week 6: Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland (Wednesday, Nov. 21, 8 p.m. ET) – James and the Lakers will make their one regular-season visit to Cleveland.
Week 19: San Antonio at Toronto (Friday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m. ET) –DeRozan, the Raptors’ career scoring leader, will play his first game at Scotiabank Arena as a visitor.