On Tuesday night, fans of the Los Angeles Lakers were treated to the release of the team’s 2011-12 schedule. Considering the team will be playing 66 games instead of 82 due to the lockout, each game will carry a little more weight than usual.
But which games does the team need to worry about the most?
Let’s take a look at 10 games that are, or could be, circled on the team’s calendar sometime this season.
While the Lakers should always beat the lowly Wizards, something tells me this could be a trap game for the team.
The team plays in Detroit the night before. And something tells me John Wall will burn the purple and gold with a triple-double.
This April showdown with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs will be the third game of a back-to-back-to-back for the Lakers.
A win against the Spurs so close to the end of the regular season could be the difference in the Lakers finishing with a more favorable seeding in the Western Conference Playoffs.
A night after facing the Miami Heat in South Beach, the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Central Florida to take on the Orlando Magic. Whether the Lakers lose or win against the Heat, the game against Orlando will be crucial.
The team will either be going for the rare Florida sweep or will be trying to avoid losing back-to-back games to two powers in the Eastern Conference.
Led by superstar Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers have a legitimate chance of returning to the postseason for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
Let’s say the Lakers stumble out of the gates and the Clippers get off to a hot start. This would make two teams’ January showdown a little more interesting than the usual one-sided Lakers-Clippers game, with all of the pressure resting on the Lakers.
Yes, that’s right, although it’s just the first game of what is still very much a lengthy season, the Los Angeles Lakers need to be worried about their Christmas Day showdown with the Chicago Bulls.
Not only are the Bulls one of the best teams in the NBA, they're led by reigning MVP Derrick Rose, which is reason enough to worry. The Lakers will be attempting to run a brand new offense for the first time coming off a shortened training camp.
The team doesn't want to start the Mike Brown regime with an ugly loss at home.
The Los Angeles Lakers host the New York Knicks in their fourth game of the season. And after the Lakers lose their opening day game to the Chicago Bulls (sorry Lakers fans, that’s my prediction), this will be their first chance to redeem themselves against a quality opponent.
Local media will be abuzz if the team loses to two Eastern Conference contenders in two of their first four games.
Not only will this be the Los Angeles Lakers’ first visit to the raucous confines of Oklahoma City for the first time in 2012, but the team has a game in Dallas the night before.
Facing the young, uber-athletic Thunder in the second night of a back-to-back is a daunting task for any team.
But even more so when your roster is filled with aging veterans.
Right in the middle of a six-game road trip in February, the Los Angeles Lakers have a showdown with their arch-nemesis, the Boston Celtics.
A win against Boston could ultimately determine if the team’s annual Grammy road trip is deemed successful or not.
After the Los Angeles Lakers visit Miami in January, the “Heatles” come to Los Angeles in March to complete the season series.
Let’s pretend the Heat beat the Lakers in their first meeting on January 19th. Add in the fact the Heat swept the Lakers last season, and Kobe could be looking for his first win against the Heat since LeBron James joined the team.
This will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ first crack at the Dallas Mavericks since the Mavs embarrassingly swept them from last spring’s postseason, en route to winning the franchise's first championship.
The Lakers don’t want to make it five humiliating losses in a row to Dirk Nowitzki and the gang.