The NBA released the 2015-16 schedule, and it's pretty easy to tell the Memphis Grizzlies have some of the toughest stretches in the league. The Grizz start off with the defending Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers at home on October 28th.
Just four games into the season, Memphis travels out west on a 5-game road trip including games at Golden State, at Portland and at the upstart Utah Jazz. The Grizzlies end their season with arguably the toughest five-game stretch of any NBA team, starting at home against the Chicago Bulls (7th best odds to win the NBA title, per Bovada), three days later head to Dallas, come home the next night against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back, then head to Los Angeles, where they finish the year with a back-to-back against the Clippers April 12, and the Warriors again on April 13.
The Grizzlies will have 10 games on national television this season, a heavy increase from last season when the Grizz had one game on ESPN scheduled before the season.
You can see the full schedule here.
The WMC Action News 5 Sports department determined the top 10 home games Grizzlies fans can't miss this upcoming season. They are listed in order.
Wednesday, October 28 - Cleveland Cavaliers - 7 P.M.
Our first game...is the first game! At this point citizens of basketball-starved hoop city haven't seen roundball in more than 5 months and they're rewarded with a chance to see the Grizzlies take on the world's best player in LeBron James. The 4-time NBA MVP carried the Cavs to two wins in the NBA finals despite being overmatched by the powerful Warriors. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and All-Star power forward Kevin Love join LeBron. Plus, Matthew Dellavadova or big Russian center Timofey Mozgov might do something interesting.
Wednesday, November 11 - Golden State Warriors - 7 P.M.
The Grizzlies see the Warriors for the second time in the season, and the first time at home on November 11th. Memphis will be coming back from a 5-game west coast road trip only to run into the defending champs. This is your first shot to see reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry & co. after last year's Western Conference semifinal. Maybe he'll bring Riley!
Monday, November 16 - Oklahoma City Thunder - 7 P.M.
One of the most fun nights of Grizzlies basketball last season was the "Wrestling night" promotion against the Thunder, and that was with a hobbled Kevin Durant. The 2013-14 MVP is in Team USA minicamp looking healthy, and he and Russell Westbrook invade the Grindhouse for the first time that Monday night. Or "FedExForum," as Westbrook refuses to call it by its nickname. This is also the first chance for family members of former Lausanne star Cameron Payne to come see him play in his hometown.
Friday, November 20 - Houston Rockets - 7 P.M.
There's a man with a beard (James Harden), a seven-footer with enormous shoulders (Dwight Howard) and an intradivisional matchup. The Western Conference runner-up Houston Rockets are one of the West's top contenders and feature Harden, the man Tony Allen called "the hardest to defend in the league." Plus it's Friday night, so a Grizzlies win can be perfectly celebrated steps away on Beale Street.
Thursday, December 3 - San Antonio Spurs - 8:30 P.M.
The Grizzlies and Spurs is a late-game on TNT, which might be past Tim Duncan's (and Vince Carter's) bed-time by the ending. These two teams played in one of the best regular season games last year, as both Marc Gasol and Tim Duncan hit game-tying buzzer-beaters to keep their squads in it. The Grizzlies won that one in triple-overtime. If it goes that long again, businesses in Memphis might as well just cancel work on Friday.
Sunday, December 27 - Los Angeles Lakers - 5 P.M.
I know the Lakers are awful, but this could be Kobe's last season and what better way to see the legend than as a Christmas gift. Come celebrate the holiday season by watching #24 jack up off-balance jumpers!
Monday, January 18 - New Orleans Pelicans - 1:30 P.M.
One of the most important games the Grizzlies play every season is the Martin Luther King Day game. Each year, the league honors several people important to the growth of the game of basketball, and to the cause of civil rights. Past games have seen such stars as Jason Collins and Dikembe Mutombo honored and the pre-game civil rights symposium is an incredible event. Seeing UT and Knicks legend Bernard King talk about how he used basketball to earn respect in a difficult time for African-Americans, or listen to Mutombo talk about using the money he made on the game to build hospitals in the Democratic Republic of Congo is an experience that cannot be forgotten. Also, Anthony Davis is like two years away from being the best player in the NBA - and he's already awesome. Come for the brilliant symposium, stay for the high-level basketball.
Saturday, March 19 - Los Angeles Clippers - 7 P.M.
Oh...oh it's on a Saturday night...yeah this one's going to sell out. The hated Clippers come to town in March as one of the NBA's favorites to win the Western Conference. Blake Griffin, who you hate more than rush hour traffic on I-240, has gotten into it with everyone from Zach Randolph (this is a bad idea) to Kosta Koufos (less of a bad idea, but still a bad idea). Chris Paul will spend at least 10 minutes talking (read: whining) to the referees about calls and Matt Barnes might fight someone - except Barnes is on the Grizzlies side now!
Tuesday, April 5 - Chicago Bulls - 7 P.M.
The brothers Gasol meet up in Memphis in the second-to-last home game for the Grizz. Fans will hopefully get to see former Memphis Tigers star Derrick Rose, who looked healthy and strong in last season's playoffs. The Bulls are widely expected to be the second best team in the Eastern Conference. Jimmy Butler has turned into a star, and his match-up with Tony Allen will be a fun one to watch.
Saturday, April 9 - Golden State Warriors - 7 P.M.
You again!? The Warriors are part of the Grizzlies tough late-season schedule. But, at least, for Grizzlies fans, watching the Grit-n-Grind Grizz try to slow down the Splash Brothers is a great way to spend a Saturday night. Also, what a coup for Memphis - their opening and closing home games are against the two teams in last year's NBA Finals.