The NBA released its 2022-23 schedule in August, and there are plenty of marquee games Lakers fans will want to circle.
As the Lakers’ season goes, so goes the league — or so they say. In other words, when the world famous Purple and Gold are winning, the NBA product is more marketable because fans are more engaged. And bettors who like backing — or fading — Los Angeles are more motivated to stay in the gambling game when the Lakers are on betslips deep in the postseason.
However, save for the Lakers’ Bubble Championship in 2020, that hasn’t been the case as of late.
At the beginning of last season, the Lakers had some of the best odds to win the title across most sportsbooks. However, the LeBron-led Lakers ended the regular season with a dreadful losing streak and failed to even make the NBA’s play-in tournament. Back in 2020, they made the playoffs but fell in the first round in six to Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns.
But with a new season on the horizon comes another opportunity to turn the ship around. Maybe new coach Darvin Ham will emerge as the central figure that alters the Lakers’ fate in 2022. Perhaps Ham can help build up backers’ trust that Los Angeles is worth betting again.
The Lakers’ odds at FanDuel to win it all are +2400 as of Aug. 26. So with the recent release of the NBA schedule, we’re eyeing the 10 best must-watch games on their schedule as they start their mission to add banner No. 18 to the rafters at Crypto.
Lakers vs. Clippers — Oct. 20
The Lakers run LA when it comes to legacy and overall success. Bettors, however, might make a case that the Los Angeles Clippers actually run it. When it comes to straight-up (SU) wins since the 2012 season, LAC has a 32-7 record over LAL. That’s good for an 82% return on investment for gamblers who’ve gone with Clip City during that span.
Though Lakers faithful often downplay its importance, this early-season matchup between these two franchises is a statement game. It has all the makings of a Hollywood drama.
You’ve got embattled Laker Russell Westbrook with his villain-origin story, and then there’s missing-in-action Clipper Kawhi Leonard whose character’s arc will be punctuated by a spectacular comeback storyline. King James stars as the protagonist. Recently signed, former Clipper Patrick Beverley is bound to make his mark as the leading antagonist.
Two enemies sharing a city and an arena.
Cue the dramatic intro music.
"Lakers ain't even the best team in LA. The Clippers are mopping the streets of LA with the Los Angeles Lakers!"
— First Take (@FirstTake) August 18, 2022
While the outcome of this game doesn’t particularly predict any substantive postseason success — read: The Clippers are 32-7 against the Lakers since 2012 with no titles — it’s usually competitive.
Last season, the first game between these two came down to the wire, and the Clippers won 119-115. LAC also won the first matchup during the 2020 season, 116-109. The year before that, the Clips won the first meeting of the season, 112-102. So over these three games, 10 points was the largest deficit, and the Lakers were on the losing end of all.
Who says little brothers aren’t tough?
And if you’re into star gazing, this matchup brings some of Tinsel Town’s biggest celebrities down from the Hollywood Hills and onto the hardwood’s courtside. Think Billy Crystal, Jack Nicholson, and any of the million members of the Kardashian clan.
Mark your calendars and prepare to be entertained by the Battle for LA.
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Lakers at 76ers — Dec. 9
At +1700, the Philadelphia 76ers have the seventh-best odds to win the NBA title at FanDuel. The Lakers’ +2400 is 11th on the oddsboard. This matchup is important for a few reasons.
For the past several seasons, December has been brutal to the Lakers from an injury standpoint. From LeBron’s nagging ankle injury to Anthony Davis’ more serious ACL issues, the final month of the calendar year has been a Scrooge to the team’s health.
Can the Lakers get through December with generally good health? If LA is at full or even 90% strength for this early-December, cross-conference matchup, this game will be one to watch.
Remember, Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers will be coaching to save face and possibly his job after his squad’s past two disappointing seasons. And judging by the images floating around the social media stratosphere, James Harden is getting in the best physical shape of his NBA career and is poised to redeem himself from last season’s lackluster performance.
For the players, for Doc and for both franchises, the stakes are incredibly high. Depending on the season’s trajectory, Dec. 9 might go down as an NBA Finals preview.
it’s a long story I been busy working pic.twitter.com/s67ob6x5Cm
— James Harden (@JHarden13) August 25, 2022
Lakers vs. Warriors — March 5
To be the best, you have to beat the best. And on Sunday, March 5, the Los Angeles Lakers get one last chance to do just that in the regular season as they face the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
By the time this game rolls around, we’ll have a good bit of data about the season. We’ll know if the James-Davis-Westbrook trifecta was a failed experiment, and we’ll know if Ham earned the respect of the team and of fans. By this point, bettors will also know if budgeting bucks to fade the Lakers to cover like last year is the smart wager.
But similarly, we’ll know a lot about the Warriors.
On the Warriors side is all-time 3-point shooting great Steph Curry, comeback Klay Thompson, and newest sharpshooter Jordan Poole. We’d be remiss to not mention Draymond “Professional Podcaster” Greene and the rest of Golden State’s supporting cast. When it comes to chemistry on the court, the Warriors just have it. And when they’re on, they are virtually unstoppable.
But we also know that the 82-game NBA season is long and can be unforgiving, doling out injuries at the most inopportune times. Will the Lakers make it to the last full month of the regular season armed with the poise of David taking down Goliath? Or will they skid into March on the heels of a four-game losing streak like last year? If it’s any consolation to gamblers who like the Lakers SU in this matchup, LA did win this game on this date in 2022.
While it’s seven months away, this game is one you don’t want to miss.
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Lakers vs. Nuggets — Oct. 30
This game will feature a showdown between four-time MVP LeBron and two-time, back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic. The Denver Nuggets are coming off the momentum of a solid season where they earned a first-round playoff berth. LeBron in Year 20 will be on a mission to prove that he still has the x-factor, while the Joker will be battling to get his team better positioned for a deep playoff run.
Lakers vs. Cavaliers — Nov. 6
If home is where the heart is, this matchup might end up being one of the last times we see LeBron play against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rumors that James will return to where it all started are always a part of the NBA buzz, but if his son Bronny has a chance to suit up for the Cavs if he gets drafted in a couple years, that chatter could hold real weight.
LeBron X Bronny 👑🔥🔥
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) August 16, 2022
Lakers vs. Celtics — Dec. 13
Last season, the Boston Celtics overachieved while the Lakers wildly underachieved. At any rate, these two franchises are the NBA’s most decorated, and their decades-long rivalry always sets the stage for high-energy, high-stakes matchups.
Lakers at Suns — Dec. 19
LeBron isn’t the only superstar who’s long in the tooth when it comes to time played in the NBA. Chris Paul is entering his 18th year in the Association, but unlike James, he has no championship rings on his finger. Will Paul along with Devin Booker and the rest of the Phoenix Suns’ red-hot roster take down Los Angeles in this matchup as they try to get back to the NBA Finals?
Lakers at Mavs — Christmas Day
Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks have established themselves as real contenders in a stacked Western Conference. And what better way to reward a franchise who has put the league on notice than with a game on Dec. 25? Even though this game is a part of the earlier slate of the day’s lineup, trust that all players and coaches will be putting forward their best holiday efforts for the nationally televised audience.
Lakers at Grizzlies — Feb. 28
Will Ja Morant be on his A-game in the days following the All-Star break? If he is, here’s a $500 tip for the Lakers: Prepare for a dog fight.
The scrappy Memphis Grizzlies are riding the momentum of a Western Conference Semifinals appearance, and they’re feeding off the energy that their young guys bring every night. This will be a face-off between the new generation and the old guard. And it will be a good one.
Lakers at Jazz — April 4
April marks the beginning of the very end of the regular season. By this point, playoff pictures will be relatively clear, and the elite teams will have set themselves apart from the rest. At this point last season, the Lakers were limping to the finish line. Will they pen a different ending for themselves next April and earn a spot in the postseason?
This game on April 4 against a competitive Utah Jazz team could be an inflection point for the Lakers as they wrap up the regular season.