The Los Angeles Clippers have turned the chapter on their previous era and are hoping to find more success after a disappointing 2017-18 season.
Los Angeles broke its stretch of six straight playoff appearances last season when its 42-40 record was only good enough for 10th in the Western Conference. The departure of Chris Paul before the season preceded Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and even Austin Rivers leaving town over the past year.
The team now goes into 2018-19 completely rebuilt, attempting to rally behind Tobias Harris, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley and more.
With the schedule now out, let's take a look at the Clippers' most enticing matchups.
Season Opener: Denver Nuggets vs. Clippers, Oct. 17 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Championship Odds: 200-1 (via OddsShark)
Full Schedule: NBA.com
Los Angeles Lakers: First matchup (Friday. Dec. 28 at 10:30 p.m. ET)
Any matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers is a big one for the Clippers, but the stakes are higher now after the inner-city rivals acquired LeBron James in the offseason.
The Clippers have had a better record of the two in each of the last six years, and with the excitement from Lob City, they were the more interesting team in this town for a brief stretch. Unfortunately, their hold on that honor seems to be slipping.
Adding James not only brings a lot of attention, but it also makes the Lakers a legitimate playoff contender for the first time since the beginning of the decade. This comes right as the Clippers are shifting their identity.
A win in this matchup would give the Clippers some added legitimacy to the reworked roster and plenty of confidence for the rest of the season. It would also quiet rival fans who likely have been doing a lot of talking all summer.
With Beverley returning to full health and Luc Mbah a Moute rejoining the team, this group has the type of defensive talent necessary to slow down Lonzo Ball and James for a potential win.
Houston Rockets: First home matchup (Sunday, Oct. 21 at 9 p.m. ET)
Even with some changes from last season, the Houston Rockets are clearly a better team than the Clippers. That still won't stop this matchup from being an interesting one.
The two teams combined for one of the strangest stories of the NBA season when the Rockets used a back hallway to charge the opposing locker room after the game to confront the Clippers players after a loss. While many of the players are no longer with these teams, there will likely be some bad blood remaining.
Paul, Beverley, Mbah a Moute, Montrezl Harrell and Eric Gordon are among the players who have spent time on both teams, creating an interesting dynamic when these two come together.
It should also be competitive on the court with the squads splitting the four-game season series last year, each battle being relatively close.
The Rockets have high aspirations in 2018-19, but they will first have to get past the Clippers.
There is a clear lack of balance in the NBA when it comes to the two conferences, with the West being much more difficult to navigate. This will especially be difficult on the Clippers, a team that will have a hard time making the playoffs.
There will be a drop-off in the post defensively as Marcin Gortat tries to replace Jordan, but the perimeter defense will be much better if Beverley and Avery Bradley can remain healthy.
Offensively, there should be plenty of scoring between Williams, Harris, Danilo Gallinari and others, featuring enough depth for any variety of players to pick up the slack if needed. First-round pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should also play an important role in his first season.
This could all add up to the Clippers being an even better team in 2018-19 than they were last year.
Unfortunately, a difficult schedule and a lot of competition could prevent the group from reaching the playoffs once again.
Record Prediction: 40-42