PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers’ season tips off in less than three weeks and we finally know who they’ll play, at least in the first half of the season.
The NBA on Friday released its schedule for the first half of the season. The second half of the season will be released at a later date as the league wants to be flexible given the possibility of games being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Blazers play four games in December, with their first game of the season scheduled at home against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, Dec. 23. The matchup against the Jazz is the first of four straight games to open the season against Western Conference teams who made the playoffs last season. Portland follows the Utah matchup with a home game against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 26, followed up by road games in Los Angeles against the defending champion Lakers on Dec. 28 and the Clippers on Dec. 30.
Other notable stretches of the schedule in the first half of the season include a seven-game homestand from Jan. 14-Jan. 25, followed by a six-game road trip from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7.
Fans will not be allowed at Moda Center to start the season.
Portland is scheduled to play 37 games in the first half of this truncated 72-game season. A typical NBA season is 82 games and begins in October. But the league is still working its way back to its normal season calendar after shutting down last season for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 2019-20 season resumed in July in what became known as the Walt Disney World bubble in Florida. It came to an end in October, with the Lakers defeating the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Portland is looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled and disappointing 2019-20 season, which ended with the team finishing as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and losing in the first round of the playoffs to Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers were busy this short offseason reshuffling their roster. The team traded two first-round picks to Houston to acquire 3-and-D forward Robert Covington, who is expected to start at one of the forward positions. Portland also signed high-flyer Derrick Jones Jr. to a two-year contract. Jones, who played with the Heat last season, is also expected to start for the Blazers alongside Covington, center Jusuf Nurkic and guards C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard.
Portland also traded for backup center Enes Kanter, who played a pivotal role in the Blazers’ run to the Western Conference Finals in 2019. The team signed forwards Carmelo Anthony and Rodney Hood to new contracts. Both are expected to start the season coming off the bench. In addition, Portland signed forward/center Harry Giles, whose role is expected to be limited at the start of the season.
Before the regular season starts, the Blazers are scheduled to play four preseason games, with the first on Friday, Dec. 11, against the Sacramento Kings.