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Clippers

Clippers are marquee team on 2019-20 NBA schedule

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
Offseason additions Kawhi Leonard, left, and Paul George make the Clippers must-see TV in the NBA.
(Robert Carter / For The Times)

Part of the charm of last year’s Clippers was their anonymity. With a finite amount of basketball attention available, so much of it was aimed at LeBron James and the Lakers.

The Clippers flew under the radar as they built a real success story — a star-less team full of exciting scorers like Lou Williams, tenacious defenders led by Patrick Beverley and an energy-oozing big man in Montrezl Harrell.

But when you add Kawhi Leonard, the reigning Finals most valuable player and top free agent, and you swing and connect on a blockbuster trade for Paul George, the secret gets out.

The Clippers will be a fixture on the NBA’s biggest nights all season, highlighting a first week when they host the Lakers on opening night, Oct. 22, before traveling to San Francisco to christen the new Chase Center in the Golden State Warriors’ home opener on Oct 24, the league announced Monday.

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The Clippers will play in a franchise-high 26 nationally televised games, including a Christmas showdown with the Lakers. They’ll also be on NBA TV another 12 times.

Expectations for the Clippers are as high as they’ve ever been, though they’ll have to navigate 82 games and all the expected and unexpected drama that comes with that.

The team will play 13 sets of back-to-back games, a key number for Leonard, who helped bring “load management” — the strategic sitting out of certain games — into the mainstream. Eleven of those 26 games will be against teams that made the playoffs a season ago, including Utah, San Antonio and Houston.

The average NBA team has 12.4 sets of back-to-back games on their schedule, down 36% from five years ago. No team has more than 14 and no team has fewer than 11.

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Leonard will return to Toronto on Dec. 11 after leading the Raptors to their first NBA title. The trip back to Toronto will be the fourth game on the first of two six-game road trips this season. The Raptors visit Staples Center on Nov. 11, part of a stretch when the Clippers play 12 of their first 17 games at home.

George, whom the team acquired from the Thunder, will be back in Oklahoma City on Dec. 22 and March 3. The Thunder, who will have former Clippers Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, come to Los Angeles for the first time Nov. 18.

Player movement this summer created a schedule full of players returning to arenas to take on their former teams.

The Thunder’s Chris Paul is back in Houston on Oct. 28 while the Rockets’ Russell Westbrook will be in Oklahoma City for the first time Jan. 9. Kyrie Irving goes back to Boston on Nov. 27, Jimmy Butler is in Philadelphia on Nov. 23, and Kemba Walker returns to Charlotte on Nov. 7.

Of the Clippers’ 26 nationally televised games, four will be 7 p.m. starts at Staples Center, part of a league-wide mandate in an effort to boost television ratings for games played on the West Coast. The NBA reduced the number of 7:30 p.m. starts on nationally televised games from 57 to 33 this season.

Here is a look at the Clippers’ regular-season schedule:

All times Pacific

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October

22 vs. Lakers, 7:30 p.m.; 24 at Golden State, 7:30 p.m.; 26 at Phoenix 7 p.m.; 28 vs. Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.; 30 at Utah, 7 p.m.; 31 vs. San Antonio, 7:30 p.m.

November

3 vs Utah, 6 p.m.; 6 vs Milwaukee, 7 p.m.; 7 vs. Portland, 7:30 p.m.; 11 vs Toronto, 7:30 p.m.; 13 at Houston, 4:30 p.m.; 14 at New Orleans, 5 p.m.; 16 vs Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.; 18 vs. Oklahoma City, 7:30 p.m.; 20 vs Boston, 7 p.m.; 22 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.; 24 vs. New Orleans, 6 p.m. 26 at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.; 27 at Memphis, 5 p.m.; 29 at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m.

December

1 vs Washington, 7:30 p.m.; 3, vs. Portland, 7 p.m.; 6 at Milwaukee, 5:30 p.m.; 8 at Washington, 3 p.m.; 9 at Indian, 4 p.m.; 11 at Toronto, 4 p.m.; 13 at Minnesota, 5 p.m.; 14 at Chicago, 5 p.m.; 17 vs. Phoenix, 7:30 p.m.; 19 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.; 21 at San Antonio, 5:3 p.m.; 22; at Oklahoma City, 4 p.m.; 25 at Lakers, 5 p.m.; 28 vs. Utah, 7:30 p.m.; 31 at Sacramento, 2 p.m.

January

2 vs Detroit, 7:30 p.m.; 4 vs. Memphis, 12:30 p.m.; 5 vs. New York, 12:30 p.m.; 10 vs. Golden State, 7:30 p.m.; 12 at Denver, 5 p.m.; 14 vs. Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.; 16 vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m.; 18 at New Orleans, 12:30 p.m.; 21 at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.; 22 at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m.; 24 at Miami, 5 p.m.; 26 at Orlando, 3 p.m.; 28 at Lakers, 7 p.m.; 30 vs. Sacramento, 7:30 p.m.

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February

1 vs. Minnesota, 12:30 p.m.; 3 vs. San Antonio, 7:30 p.m.; 5 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.; 8 at Minnesota, 5 p.m.; 9 at Cleveland, 4:30 p.m.; 11 at Philadelphia, 4 p.m.; 13 at Boston, 5 p.m.; 22 vs. Sacramento, 12:30 p.m.; 24 vs. Memphis, 7:30 p.m.; 26 at Phoenix, 6 p.m.; 28 vs. Denver, 7:30 p.m.

March

1 vs. Philadelphia, 12:30 p.m.; 3 at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m.; 5 at Houston, 5 p.m.; 8 vs. Lakers, 12:30 p.m.; 10 at Golden State, 7:30 p.m.; 13 vs. Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.; 14 vs. New Orleans, 7:30 p.m.; 16 vs. Dallas, 7:30 p.m.; 18 at Denver, 6 p.m.; 20 vs. Phoenix, 7:30 p.m.; 23 at New York, 4 p.m.; 25 at Brooklyn, 4 p.m.; 27 at Detroit, 4 p.m.; 28 at Charlotte, 4 p.m.; 30 vs. Indian, 7:30 p.m.

April

2 at Sacramento, 7 p.m.; 4 vs. Oklahoma City, 12:30 p.m.; 7 at Utah, 7 p.m.; 8 vs. Chicago, 7:30 p.m.; 11 vs. Golden State, 5:30 p.m.; 13 vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.; 15 at Portland, 7 p.m.


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