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NBA Preseason 2015: Schedule and Predictions for Remaining Marquee Games

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVOctober 19, 2015

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, left, shoots over Utah Jazz center Tibor Pleiss during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

The long-awaited 2015-16 NBA season is finally right around the corner. But before the October 27 season debut comes, there are still a few final days of preseason action.

The long 82-game marathon that is an NBA regular season awaits these 30 organizations, which offers the true test for any team with playoff aspirations. While simply getting through the slate without major injury and with a strong playoff seed is the goal for many championship-aspiring clubs, others will fight tooth and nail for a chance to simply get into the postseason.

Before that comes, teams will have a few last chances to fine-tune their operations and figure out rotations. With that in mind, let's take a look at the final few games of the preseason.

Remaining 2015 Preseason Schedule

DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
Mon., Oct. 19Chicago Bulls at Charlotte Hornets7 p.m.-
Mon., Oct. 19Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers7 p.m.NBATV
Mon., Oct. 19Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics7:30 p.m.-
Mon., Oct. 19New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets8 p.m.-
Mon., Oct. 19Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers10:30 p.m.NBATV
Tue., Oct. 20Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls8 p.m.NBATV
Tue., Oct. 20Minnesota Timberwolves at Milwaukee Bucks8 p.m.-
Tue., Oct. 20Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs8:30 p.m.-
Tue., Oct. 20Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz9 p.m.-
Tue., Oct. 20Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers10:30 p.m.ESPN
NBA.com

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers (Monday Oct. 19)

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

The season that the Portland Trail Blazers have ahead likely isn't what Damian Lillard had in mind when re-signing to a huge contract.

With LaMarcus Aldridge gone to San Antonio, Wesley Matthews in Dallas and Nicolas Batum in Charlotte, Lillard and Portland are suddenly left with a shell of their former team. They're left trying to replace them with a core of young players, namely Noah Vonleh, Pat Connaughton and Meyers Leonard.

Portland has already proved it might be less of a pushover than its roster turnover suggests, winning two of its first four preseason contests—including one against the reigning NBA champions. But they'll face another team full of young talent Monday in Los Angeles.

While Kobe Bryant's return to the floor has been the top storyline surrounding the Lakers, a close second is the emergence of D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. The young power forward is making a name for himself in the preseason by going toe-to-toe against some of the game's defensive greats, as Mike Trudell of Lakers.com noted:

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

Julius Randle continues to go right at Draymond Green, one of the NBA’s best defenders, and has 14 points in the first 11 minutes tonight.

It's not much of a secret that the Lakers and Trail Blazers are destined for a bottom-half finish in the tough Western Conference. But with the talent on both teams, it wouldn't be surprising to see either team turn heads and have a strong season.

Life out West is brutal, and growth must be quick if teams hope to get out of the league cellar. Both the Lakers and the Trail Blazers have a final chance to finish the preseason on a high note, but it's L.A. that appears best-suited for some early success, and the team will show it.

Prediction: Lakers 91, Trail Blazers 85

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers (Tuesday, Oct. 20)

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

From rebuilding teams to ones hoping to lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy, there won't be any love lost between the rival Warriors and Clippers in the NBA's preseason finale—even if there's nothing actually on the line.

Yes, L.A. and Golden State will meet a handful of times through the regular season to settle their differences—and it wouldn't be surprising to see them play as many as seven more in the postseason—but with the chance to set the tone for the season, don't be shocked if this one has the feel of a regular-season battle.

The preseason hasn't been peerless for the defending champs, as Golden State has gone just 2-3 so far. But that hasn't kept Steph Curry from making his usual highlight-reel plays, as the NBA showed on Twitter:

NBA @NBA

Keeping his dribble, @StephenCurry30 recovers & nails the trey in @Warriors preseason action! https://t.co/ojwMsHsp0I

While the Warriors rotation is largely untouched since their championship run, the Clippers are debuting a number of changes to their squad. They didn't have to swallow the pill of a DeAndre Jordan departure, but are still left replacing Matt Barnes with Lance Stephenson as well as other changes.

The Warriors aren't getting many wins in the preseason, but that's not really the goal. They're excelling at getting their stars proper playing time without risking injury, and they'll be intent on hitting their stride with the season around the corner.

Prediction: Warriors 101, Clippers 90

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