The early season brings plenty of interesting match-ups for Blazers fans to get excited about. Which ones have you most fired up to watch?
Portland hosts the Golden State Warriors November 2 for the third game of the season. The Blazers and Warriors split their four-game series last season, with power forward LaMarcus Aldridge leading the charge for Portland, averaging 22 points and 12.7 rebounds against Golden State. Guard Wesley Matthews scored 20.3 points per game on 44.4 percent shooting from deep, while forward Nicolas Batum hitting 52.6 percent of his threes.
Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson went off on Portland's defense in four games last year, averaging 36 and 24.8 points, respectively. Curry knocked down 46.5 percent of his outside shots while Thompson, the other Splash Bro, hit 43.3 percent of his own. And of course, there was this November fracas between the two teams that led to an epic Portland comeback.
The following game on November 4 sees LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Moda Center. James brings point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Kevin Love -- a Portland-area native -- to square off with the Blazers. In two games against the Cavs in 2013-14, Portland guard Damian Lillard torched Cleveland for an average of 32 points on 59.1 percent shooting from downtown. Aldridge averaged 29 points of his own against the Cavaliers, a team that has since added veteran forward Mike Miller and Shawn Marion to an improved rotation.
Two days after the Cleveland game, point guard Raymond Felton and the Dallas Mavericks stop by Portland for a November 6 meeting. Felton played one season for the Blazers in 2011-12, earning a poor reputation among many fans in Rip City for coming into the season out-of-shape and underperforming. Felton called his time in Portland the "worst moment [he] had in basketball for sure" and is almost certain to receive a hearty chorus of boos from fans when he takes the court for the Mavericks.
The Minnesota Timberwolves play the Blazers in Portland on November 30, rounding out the first full month of NBA basketball. Former Blazers point guard Mo Williams -- coach Terry Stotts' sixth-man and leading scorer off the bench last season -- signed this summer with the 'Wolves. Like Felton, Williams had some choice words for some Blazers fans after leaving the team. His response from the Moda Center crowd will certainly be more mixed than Felton's, though, as Williams didn't leave town on bad terms with everyone.
Jumping forward to the next month, Portland will host the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs on December 15. Before beating the Blazers 4-1 in the second round of the playoffs last spring, the Spurs split their regular season series with Portland, 2-2. Lillard averaged 25 points a game against San Antonio last year, but needed almost 19 shots a night to get there. Matthews hit half his shots and 52.2 percent of his threes for 18.8 points per game against the Spurs in 2013-14.
True to San Antonio form, the Spurs had seven players average double-figures in scoring last season against the Blazers: point guards Tony Parker and Patty Mills, wings Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli and Danny Green and big men Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan.
After beating the Houston Rockets 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs last year, Portland meets them down in Texas for the first time next season on December 22. The Rockets owned the four-game regular season series 3-1 against the Blazers last year, as guard James Harden averaged 30.3 points on 45.5 percent shooting from deep and Dwight Howard scored 25.5 points and pulled down 13.5 rebounds per game. All five of Portland's starters plus Williams averaged double-figure scoring against Houston last year, with Aldridge leading the way with 26.8 points and 15.5 rebounds per contest.
On January 5, the Los Angeles Lakers make their way to the Moda Center for their first meeting with the Blazers next season. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will presumably be healthy, and Portland offseason-signee Chris Kaman, center, will square off with his former teammates for the first time. Lillard and Aldridge both averaged over 26 points per game in three match-ups with Los Angeles last year.
January 21 will also be an interesting game for Blazers fans, as Portland meets up with the Phoenix Suns for the first time of the 2014-15 season. Last year, the Suns took three-of-four games from the Blazers, as the two-headed backcourt tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic feasted on Portland's perimeter defense. Just about every Blazer struggled against Phoenix last season, as Aldridge led the team in scoring with 20.5 points per game while needing over 19 shot attempts to get there.
Portland certainly has an entertaining schedule early on, with match-ups against several rival teams and former Blazers. Besides opening night against the Thunder, which 2014-15 game are you anticipating most?
-- Chris Lucia | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter