2019-20 NBA opening night schedule: LeBron's Lakers to face Kawhi's Clippers; Zion Williamson to make debut vs. Raptors

The intra-city battle between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers is by far the most anticipated game on the NBA schedule, and it appears the league agrees. Following the official schedule release on Monday afternoon, we now know that the rivals will play on both opening night and Christmas Day. In addition, the defending champions Toronto Raptors will take on No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. 

NBA Opening night schedule:

  • New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors -- 8 p.m. ET, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto -- TV: TNT | StreamingfuboTV (try it for free)
  • Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers -- 10:30 p.m. ET, Staples Center, Los Angeles -- TV: TNT | StreamingfuboTV (try it for free)

The Lakers and Clippers playing on opening night, which will be on Tuesday, Oct. 22, represents an interesting change for the league. While the NBA always uses opening night as a chance to showcase some of its best teams, certain games are usually reserved for Christmas. That is especially true of teams like that Lakers and Clippers that underwent major changes in the offseason. 

But as division rivals, the Lakers and Clippers will play one another four times during the season. From a scheduling perspective, that makes it difficult to wait two months into the season before letting them play, especially given their conflicting travel schedules. The Lakers and Clippers share an arena, so when one team is at home, the other is often on the road. In that sense, putting this game on opening night solves the headache of travel concerns. If Paul George misses the start of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, that would also add a layer of intrigue to their Christmas rematch. 

The other game to be played on opening night is a battle of the past against the future. Last season's champions, the Toronto Raptors, will face the New Orleans Pelicans and their No. 1 overall pick, Zion Williamson. The defending champion plays on opening night almost every year, but having them play against the No. 1 overall pick is an interesting wrinkle. It allows him to watch the Raptors receive their championship rings in person, which should serve as a strong motivator moving forward. 

The Lakers and the Clippers are the two teams fans are most excited to see this season. Williamson is one of the most popular rookies in NBA history. Toss in the defending champions, and opening night figures to be an incredible night of basketball. 

Sam Quinn joined CBS sports as a basketball writer in 2019. Prior to that, he wrote for 247Sports and Bleacher Report. He is a New York native and NYU graduate who also has roots in Florida and Califo... Full Bio

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