PORTLAND, Ore. — With superstar Damian Lillard expected to eventually be traded out of Portland, the NBA has demonstrated precisely what it thinks of the rebuilding Trail Blazers, giving the team just one national TV appearance for the entire 2023-24 season.
The lone game Portland will play on national TV is Feb. 27 on TNT against the Miami Heat at home. The opponent and date is no coincidence. Lillard (or his agent) has made it clear that Lillard's preference, once he's traded, is to play for the Miami Heat. The national TV appearance pitting the Blazers against the Heat is scheduled for after the Feb. 8 trade deadline, at which point there's a good chance Lillard could be playing for Miami against his former team. The Blazers and Heat also play against each other in Miami on March 29.
The NBA released the complete schedule for the 2023-24 NBA season on Thursday. Here's what else to know about the Blazers' schedule:
Following a four-game preseason schedule that starts Oct. 10 and ends Oct. 16, Portland opens the regular season on the road with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 25. Their home opener is two nights later on Oct. 27 against the Orlando Magic.
NATIONAL TV APPEARANCES
As mentioned at the top of this article, Portland gets just one national TV game this season, on TNT against Miami on Feb. 27.
The Blazers do have five games featured on NBA TV. Those probably don't count as "real" national TV games since they're simulcasts of the home team's local feed and are blacked out in Portland. But those games will reach a larger national audience than the majority of Portland's games next season so they're worth noting.
Here's a look at the five NBA TV games:
- Dec. 21: vs. Washington Wizards
- Jan. 26: at San Antonio Spurs
- Jan. 29: vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Feb. 4: at Denver Nuggets
- March 11: vs. Boston Celtics
It's kind of hard to pick key matchups right now because we don't know yet if Lillard will be traded before or during the season and we don't know how competitive the Blazers will be.
That said, it's safe to operate under the assumption that Lillard will be traded sooner than later (at the trade deadline at the latest, most likely) and the rebuilding Blazers will not win a lot of games. If that's the case, the most intriguing matchups are probably those that feature Blazers rookie Scoot Henderson, the No. 3 overall pick, against the two rookies drafted ahead of him.
Victor Wembanyama: Blazers fans will get the chance to see Scoot vs. Wemby on back-to-back nights at home in December. The first game pitting Henderson vs. Wembanyama, the No. 1 pick in the draft, is Dec. 28, followed by a game the next night, also at Moda Center, on Dec. 29. The Blazers and Spurs play one more time, on Jan 26 in San Antonio.
Brandon Miller: The Blazers play Miller, the second overall pick, and the Charlotte Hornets twice this season, at home Feb. 25 and on the road April 3.
TOP STARS, TEAMS COME TO PORTLAND
Portland plays its first two games against Nikola Jokic and the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets on the road in early February. The Nuggets' first game in Portland is Feb. 23.
As noted above, the Blazers play Jimmy Butler and the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat twice, with the team's lone visit to Portland coming on Feb. 27.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, runners-up in the Western Conference last season, visit Portland pretty early next season, on Nov. 17. Portland's other two games next season against the Lakers are both on the road.
Jayson Tatum and the Eastern Conference runner-up Boston Celtics, don't come to Portland until March 11 for their only appearance in Portland.
Here's a look at home dates when some of the NBA's other top stars and teams visit Portland:
- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors: Dec. 17 and April 11
- Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks: Jan. 31
- Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns: Dec. 19 and Jan. 14
- Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers: Jan. 29
- Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks: Dec. 16
ODDS AND ENDS
Back-to-backs: The Blazers have 14 back-to-backs on their schedule this season. Seven are home-and-home, five are road-and-road and two are road-and-home.
A little rest advantage: According to Danny Marang of 1080 The Fan and Jacked Ramsays podcast, the Blazers have the third most rest advantage games this season with 14 and the second-least rest disadvantage games with nine. A rest advantage means the Blazers have had more time off between games than their opponent; rest disadvantage means the opposite.
Long road trips: The Blazers have two seven-game road trips, the first from Jan. 1-12 against the Suns, Mavericks (twice), Nets, Knicks, Thunder and Timberwolves, and the second from March 25 to April 7 against the Rockets, Hawks, Heat, Magic, Hornets, Wizards and Celtics.
Long homestands: Portland has a seven-game homestand from Feb. 8-27 against the Pelicans, Timberwolves (twice), Nuggets, Hornets and Heat and a six-game homestand from March 8-14 against the Thunder, Rockets, Raptors, Celtics, Hawks and Knicks.
In-season tournament: The Blazers' four group-play games in the NBA's first in-season tournament (the games will also count in the regular season standings) are Nov. 3 against the Grizzlies, Nov. 14 at the Jazz, Nov. 17 against the Lakers and Nov. 21 at Phoenix. Portland could play up to three more games in the in-season tournament, depending on how they fare in group play. The knockout round games will be played on Dec. 4 and 5. The semifinal and championship games will be played Dec. 7 and 9 in Las Vegas. For more information on the in-season tournament, click here.
Check out the schedule release video from the Blazers:
And KGW sports anchor Orlando Sanchez has you covered, posting the full schedule to Twitter: