Let’s breakdown the Clippers schedule for the upcoming season, starting with the first ten games.
The First Ten Games:
- @LAL, vs Phoenix, @Utah, vs Dallas, vs Minnesota, @Golden State, vs Memphis, vs New Orleans, vs Oklahoma City, vs Toronto
For a team that struggles with sustaining effort and confidence, building positive momentum from the get go is absolutely crucial. Starting the season off 1-9 like the Clippers did last year would lead many members of the team to develop a Shane Falco-esque “quicksand” mentality that would be hard to bounce back from. All the “it’s the Clippers, we’re cursed” hoopla needs to be put away right off the bat, and starting the season off well would go a long ways to accomplishing that.
In that regard, the team got very lucky with their draw in the first ten games. Getting to play 8 of the first 10 at Staples is a nice break, but getting 5 teams that were well below .500 last year to start the season is a great one. Away games against the Lakers and Utah are the toughies, but every other game on the slate is winnable. I can’t overstate the importance of a good start over this ten game stretch; it could very well set the tone for the entire year.
The Toughest Road Trip:
- Starting January 21st: @Denver, @Washington, @Boston, @New Jersey, @Minnesota, @Cleveland, @Chicago, @Atlanta
That’s 8 straight road games in 13 days, which is the longest stretch away from home for the season. To make matters worse, 5 of the 8 games are against playoff teams last year. Late January is right in the heart of the middle of the season, and will pose a formidable test for the Clippers. It will be interesting to see how the young guys, Griffin in particular, handle such a lengthy road trip in the middle of a long season. It’s something they don’t get in high school, AAU, or college ball, and around this time of year the rookie wall becomes very real.
The Easiest Home Stand
- Starting February 17th, vs Atlanta, vs Sacramento, vs Charlotte, vs Detroit
The 4 game home stand starts off against Atlanta, who was horrible on the road last season, going 16-25 on the road, compared to 31-10 at home. Sacramento was the only team worse than the Clippers in terms of overall record last year, and Detroit appears to be in a rebuilding stage. Charlotte should be improved under Larry Brown, but they too were bad away from home, going 12-29 on the road last year. The Clippers have a good shot at sweeping this home stand.
The Toughest Month
- January- 9 Road Games vs 6 Home Games
The Clippers get the Lakers twice and the Cavs twice, and play Boston, Portland, Miami, New Orleans, Chicago and Denver once. That leaves only one game against a non-playoff team at home in January; a tilt on the 18th against New Jersey. That totals up to 14 of 15 games either on the road or against a playoff team. Yikes.
The Easiest Month
- November – 8 home games vs 6 away games
The home/away splits are pretty even, but the level of competition in the month of November looks to be light. Out of the 14 total games in November, only 4 are against playoff teams from last year. The former playoff teams don’t look to be too tough either; The Clippers draw New Orleans twice and Detroit once. The only real formidable game is against Denver, but that contest will be in the Staples Center. It’s also promising that the Clippers play only one set of back to back road games in the entire month. If the team struggles through November, the season is in trouble.
- The Clippers play on National Television 8 times over the course of the year, which is a surprising amount for the second worst team in the league last year.
- Out of the last 7 games of the season, 5 are at home and one is away against Sacramento. Time will only tell if these games matter.
- The Clippers play January 24th against Washington at 10am pacific time. The player most likely to hit the snooze button on his alarm? Ricky Davis, by a long shot.
- If you’re not already worn out by morning festivities or too much eggnog, you’ll be able to catch the Clippers play on Christmas Day at 5pm.
- The Clippers play 22 back to back games, a relatively high amount.
If there is any interest, I think it would be really neat to pick out a game for all of us to meet up at. We can drink some overpriced beer, take in a game, and talk Clippers basketball. Any suggestions or ideas are always welcome in the comments section.