The Trail Blazers will be welcoming three new players to their starting lineup this season after a summer of change resulted in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum looking at an entirely new starting frontline from the one they played alongside during last season’s playoff run to the Western Conference finals.
And they will be getting to know their new teammates mostly on the road when the 2019-20 season begins.
After a season-opening home opener against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Oct. 23, the NBA schedule-makers are sending Portland on the road for four games at Sacramento, Dallas, San Antonio and Oklahoma City before returning to Portland for a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Then it’s right back on the road for contests at Golden State (in that new arena in San Francisco) and the Los Angeles Clippers. So the new-look Blazers will open the season with six of their first eight games and 13 of their first 18 on the road.
But the end of the season is a different story. The Trail Blazers get five of their final six games at home, including the last contest of the season – the only home matchup against the Clippers all year.
And while Portland is not scheduled for a Christmas Day game this season, the Blazers are going to be all over the national-television schedule. The team will play 10 games on TNT, nine games on ESPN, including the home opener, and even once in a rare afternoon home game on ABC – a 12:30 p.m. contest March 15 vs. Houston. The Blazers were scheduled for five TNT games last season and six on ESPN.
The Blazers have two six-game road trips, one in late November and another in March. As usual, the schedule also includes a game that just wouldn’t fit on anyone’s logical itinerary. The Blazers begin a five-game trip on New Year’s Day in New York, then play at Washington, before moving to Miami, then Toronto and Minnesota. Packing for that trip will be interesting. Portland makes two trips to Florida – the opposite corner of the country – to meet that state’s two teams.
In another scheduling quirk, after that hard-fought, second-round playoff series vs. Denver last spring, the Blazers meet the Nuggets twice during the exhibition season and then open the season against them.
All in all, not a great schedule. But not a bad one, either. And a lot of new respect from the national television networks.