By Daron Grandberry on August 17, 2014
The 2014-15 schedule is out and once again the Los Angeles Lakers are faced with another difficult road to the NBA playoffs. With numerous back-to-backs and the annual "Grammy Road-Trip," here are 10 must-see away games this season.
The Lakers will travel up north to face the sharp shooting Golden State Warriors in the second of the Lakers' 16 back-to-back games this season. Up against one of the premiere back-court duos in the NBA, the Lakers will be tested early in the season after playing the hated Los Angeles Clippers the day before. Will Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash be able to play in all 16 back-to-back games?
While Kobe Bryant will attract his share of fans, most cameras will be focused on the showdown between former University of Kentucky forwards Anthony Davis and Julius Randle. In two seasons, Davis has already proved to be one of the league's rising stars at the forward position while leading the NBA in blocks last season, 2.8 BPG. If Randle can duplicate Davis' success, Lakers' fans should be more than excited about the future.
With Dwight Howard leaving Los Angeles to team up with James Harden, expect Kobe Bryant to have every game against Houston marked on his calendar. With Jeremy Lin now wearing purple and gold and the addition of Carlos Boozer and Julius Randle, expect another close matchup between the two rivals.
Although both teams are somewhat rebuilding, expect both teams to come out the gates scrapping for a win. This will be the third away game in five days for the Lakers and it's important that the Lakers win every game against Eastern Conference teams. The Celtics have the better back-court on paper, but if the Lakers' post players can produce and come up big on the boards, expect a dog-fight.
The Lakers will began another brief three-game road trip on Dec. 12, beginning with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers will be looking to make up for last season's 0-4 showing against the the reigning champions. Last season, the Spurs beat the Lakers by an average of 17.2 PPG.
Once again Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will be facing another former player who chose to depart from the purple and gold. Although a lot of talk will be about Bryant and former teammate Pau Gasol, the Lakers must be able to play good perimeter defense and someone has to be able to guard Derrick Rose. If both Carlos Boozer and Julius Randle can have big Christmas games, expect a close one in Chicago.
After hosting the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 4, the Lakers will fly to Portland the next day to face one of the league's best duos in LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. The production of Jordan Hill will be very important against Portland because he is the Lakers' best defender for Aldridge. If Bryant and Steve Nash are able to play against the Blazers, and Hill can stay out of foul-trouble, expect an intense showdown.
The Lakers begin the month of February with their only visit of the season to Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are always known to put on a show when facing each other, however, with two first-year head coaches in charge of both benches, and Phil Jackson facing his former team, expect New York and Los Angeles to be a very exciting match up, even if both teams are rebuilding.
One week after facing Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, the Lakers will travel to Cleveland to take on LeBron James and the revamped Cleveland Cavaliers. Although Byron Scott has already emphasized defense as the main focus to this year's season, the Lakers will have their hands full with Cleveland's new Big-3. James will get his points, but if the Lakers can contain the rest of the Cavs' role players, expect this one to go down to the wire.
The Lakers will begin their longest road trip of the season with a stop in Oklahoma City to face reigning MVP Kevin Durant and the Thunder. The Lakers will have their hands full with Durant and Serge Ibaka down low, however, figuring out who's going to guard Russell Westrbook on the perimeter may be the biggest decision. Expect to see Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry log some extra minutes on the perimeter guarding Westbrook and Reggie Jackson.
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