The 2013-14 NBA schedule was released yesterday (SPOILER ALERT: The Cavaliers play 82 games). Zak Kolesar already covered what could be the most important games of the season. However, here’s 10 games that seem incredibly interesting fun, or surprisingly important to the Cavs season, in chronological order:
November 16: @ Washington Wizards
A huge game for both teams in the early season. Washington provides a nice comparison for the progress of the Cavs: A team built similarly to the Cavs, with their stud point guard, solid-but-injury-prone bigs, hot shot second-year shooting guard, top 3 2013 draft pick and mostly useless young big (pray for a Tyler Zeller/Jan Vesely fight to the death. IT MUST HAPPEN!). With the game being at Washington, that makes it even more interesting.
November 20th, February 7th, February 23rd: Other Games Against Washington
Counting all of these in one go, but Cleveland and Washington will likely be deadlocked in the standings for most of the season, and every Kyrie Irving/John Wall matchup we get is one we should cherish as fans. As is every Zeller/Vesely showdown, really.
December 17th: vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Here’s a matchup that is totally underrated. The Blazers offer another outstanding young point guard in Damian Lillard, somewhat of a matchup nightmare for the Cavs frontcourt in LaMarcus Aldridge and a top 5 passing forward in the league in Nicolas Batum. Naturally, Portland can’t play defense either, but I’m very interested to see how the Cavs defend the Blazers, because with their starters and an improved bench, they could be a huge problem.
December 21st: @ Chicago Bulls
Game 26 on the schedule. Anderson Varejao hasn’t played 26 games in three years. This may be dumb, but isn’t it kind of important to see if Varejao makes it to this game? Even if that’s not a remote issue for you, it’s still already the Cavs third game against the Bulls, and like with Wall, treat every Irving/Derrick Rose showdown as sacred.
January 14th: @ Los Angeles Lakers
Somehow the Cavs make it to mid-January before their first dreaded 10:30 p.m. start time. And it comes with a huge duel with the Lakers, in a game that might be the return of Kobe, because let’s face it, every game at this point might be the return of freaking Kobe until he actually does come back. More importantly, it’s the return of Andrew Bynum (maybe) and Earl Clark (definitely) to playing in front of Lakers fans. This will be fun, even if the Cavs will win by 27 because good God, this Lakers roster minus Kobe.
January 28th: vs. New Orleans Pelicans
I just think this New Orleans team is going to be incredibly fun. It’s Kyrie vs. the Brow, and last time these two played in Cleveland Irving took over in a fourth-quarter comeback on national TV and finished with 33 points. I feel this should be entertaining.
January 30th: @ New York Knicks
The Cavs first Thursday TNT gig, you say? At Madison Square Garden, you say? Sign me up.
February 26th: @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Every NBA schedule has that one, “there’s no way this was fair to schedule, Stern’s a jerk” game. Late February, second game of a back-to-back, with the first game against Toronto, likely for a playoff position, AT Oklahoma City? CURSE YOU STERN!!!!!!!! (even though he won’t be commissioner at this point, it’s still his fault)
March 18th-March 23rd: vs. Miami Heat, vs. OKC, vs. Houston Rockets, @ New York
WELP. Grouped these together because this is the toughest four-game stretch on the Cavs schedule and maybe in the league this season in the thick of the playoff race, no less. It’s impossible to tell if the Cavs will need these wins, but I mean……let’s pull for 1-3?
April 4th: @ Atlanta Hawks
I can say with confidence this will be the last meaningful game on the schedule for Cleveland. And it’s against a team the Cavs will likely be competing for a playoff spot with, no less (I’ll be discussing the matchup, in fact, later this week). After this, the Cavs finish vs. Charlotte (likely done being relevant), vs. Detroit (who will have imploded or be a top 5 East seed), at Milwaukee (probably tanking), vs. Boston (MORTAL LOCK to be tanking) and vs. Brooklyn (a lock to be resting starters). That should be 5-0 even if the Cavs aren’t a playoff team at this point. That means the Atlanta game will likely be our last meaningful regular season game. And sadly, it’ll be here before we know it.