Portland Get ready
The first game of the season is always noteworthy, but there are a handful of other games that will keep fans on the edge of their seats until they officially tip off.
The top five games will differ from person to person, but with the Blazers looking much improved entering the year, there are a few squads that stand out on the team’s schedule.
Oct. 30 @ Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns and Trail Blazers are hardly rivals at this point in their rebuilds, but fans look forward to the first game of the season regardless of who the opponent may be.
Portland will travel to US Airways Center on Oct. 30, and we’ll get to see the Rip City debuts of a number of the team’s newest members. C.J. McCollum, Thomas Robinson and Robin Lopez are the big names, but you can’t forget about Mo Williams, Allen Crabbe and Dorell Wright, either.
The summer of 2013 has seen changes galore when it comes to the bench, and fans are ready to see how much better it will be once the season tips off.
Nov. 22 vs. Chicago Bulls
On Nov. 22, the Trail Blazers will face the Chicago Bulls for the first time during the 2013-14 season. This matchup has very little history behind it, but all fans should tune in for one highly anticipated battle: Damian Lillard vs. Derrick Rose.
Entering the league as a rookie, Damian Lillard openly compared his game to that of Rose’s. His scoring ability and athleticism made the comparison legitimate, and his court vision and poise solidified it early in the year.
Unfortunately for fans across the league, Rose was out for the year with a torn ACL. His recovery is complete, meaning he’ll be back in 2013-14; but for fans in Rip City, his return simply means we can see how the franchise point guard matches up against one of the best that the game has to offer.
Dec. 28 vs. Miami Heat
Greg Oden will return to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers on December 28. Will he be in a jersey or a suit?
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) August 7, 2013
Anytime LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the defending champion Miami Heat come to town, it’s a big deal. This year, though, it’s one of the most highly anticipated games of Portland’s season, as it could very well mark the return of Greg Oden to the city that drafted him.
During the summer, Pat Riley and the Heat opted to roll the dice on the injury-prone big man. Oden signed a minimum contract, but if he can stay healthy and play half as well as he was supposed to in Portland, he’s going to have a huge impact on the roster.
There is a chance that Oden’s rehab takes him into the New Year, meaning he misses the game Dec. 28. But that said, if he’s able to return, fans will have a chance to see Oden play inside the Rose Garden for the first time since Dec. 5, 2009.
March 3 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The Blazers somehow managed to avoid playing the typical four games against the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2013-14 season. That means the hated rivals will only travel to the Rose Garden on March 3, which means it will be the only time the crowd gets to remind them of how hated they are.
Last season, the Blazers opened up the year against L.A., taking them down on Halloween night. The energy in the arena won’t touch what it was on that occasion, but the Beat L.A. gear will be out in full fashion for Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lake Show.
Portland has never been kind to Bryant and the Lakers, and that won’t be expected to change anytime soon.
April 16 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
The Blazers are set to close out the year against the defending Pacific Division champion Los Angeles Clippers. These two teams have very little in common, but the truth is that the final game of the season could be a make-or-break situation for Rip City.
L.A. is going to be a tough opponent for Portland. The game is at home, but Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers are expected to be near the top of the conference most of the year.
Luckily for the Blazers, their month of April will be far kinder to them than it was last season.
Portland ended the 2012-13 campaign in brutal fashion largely because of their schedule. The last month and a half was filled with playoff teams and fringe playoff teams, but this time, a few bunnies have been thrown into the mix.
The Blazers have a legitimate chance of fighting for a spot in the playoffs, but with teams such as the Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves looking to do the same, winning the final contest of the year could be what solidifies Portland’s return to the postseason.