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Ten Schedule Tips for the 2019-20 Season

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

Let the Games Begin

After tipping off the previous two seasons at home, the Cavaliers started out north with a pair last season – traveling to Toronto and Minnesota. This year, the new-look Wine & Gold begin the campaign away again, heading to the Sunshine State to take on Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and the up-and-coming Magic on Oct. 23.

Cleveland returns for what should be an incredible night as fans get their first look at the renovated state-of-the-art Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse three nights later, welcoming the heavyweight Pacers to town for an 8 p.m. start on Saturday, Oct. 26. The next three games are all Divisional opponents – including a quick rematch with Victor Oladipo and Co. the following Friday in Indy.

After starting and wrapping up the schedule about a week earlier last year – (Cleveland opened on Oct. 18, finished on April 9) – things are closer to normal this season, with the Cavs regular season closing out on Tax Day – April 15 – on the road against Atlanta. The last time the Wine & Gold didn’t complete the campaign at home was the 2012-13 season when they closed out in Charlotte against the then-Bobcats.

With the season closing out on the road, Fan Appreciation Night will be two nights earlier – Monday, April 13 – against Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.

Road Warriors

As they have over the past couple seasons, the Cavaliers will have their West Coast trip(s) split in half – and they’re both gonna be a bear.

After a nice four-game homestand to start the 2020 New Year, the Wine & Gold embark on a six-game, 11-day West Coast junket bracketed by a pair of Central Division matchups. On Jan. 9, the Cavs travel to face the Pistons in Motown, then head west for matchups beginning with the Nuggets, then on to a back-to-back against the Lakers and Clippers and wrapping up with a back-to-back against Memphis and Chicago.

And as Cleveland did a season ago, it’s a late-campaign sojourn out West – facing off against the Jazz in Utah on April with stops in Phoenix and Sacramento before closing out with a brutal back-to-back against Portland and Golden State on April 7th and 8th.

Home for the Holidays

The Cavaliers had been Christmas Day staples for several seasons, but this year the Wine & Gold doesn’t play on Christmas, will be home for Christmas.

Cleveland welcomes the Magic to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on the night before Thanksgiving on Nov. 27 and will be north of the border on New Year’s Eve, taking on the World Champion Raptors.

On Martin Luther King Day – January 20 – the Cavaliers welcome the Knicks to town for a 5 p.m. contest. The Wine & Gold are off on Easter Sunday (April 12). And this year’s All-Star Game will be played in the Windy City on Feb. 16.

Home Cookin'

John Beilein’s squad has some tough road stretches – including the final trip to end the campaign. But there are some nice stretches on the North Coast where the squad can make some hay.

The Cavs have three, three-game homestands before the holidays – including a late-December trifecta against Charlotte, Memphis and Atlanta.

The young Cavaliers have a nice month at home in February – playing seven of their 11 contests at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse – and will get a much-needed break around All-Star Weekend, with their final game before the Break at home against Atlanta on Feb. 12 and their first game back after the midseason classic on the road against Washington on Feb. 21.

Cleveland gets a five-game homestand to end the month of February and welcome in March, but they close out the campaign with a vicious final month – playing six of April’s final eight games on the road, including a five-game, nine-day trip out West.

Unleashed in the East

There’s a new big dog in the East, but that might be a short stay at the top for Toronto, which went all-in for Kawhi Leonard. The gamble paid off, but with the Klaw’s departure, the Conference is once again wide open. The Cavs open their new-and-improved home arena with one of the true contenders when the Pacers roll in on Oct. 26. They get their first look at the league’s reining MVP, traveling to face the Greek Freak two nights later.

The Atlantic Division should be a dogfight this season and Cleveland faces their heavy hitters early – taking on the Sixers three times in the first quarter of the campaign alone. The Cavs face Boston three times before the new year and once more in March. If Kyrie Irving makes the trip to Cleveland with his team, the Nets first appearance at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is November 25.

Wild, Wild West

Despite the Raptors hold on the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the league’s power leans heavily West – with both big and small market squads vying to bring back the title.

Kawhi, Paul George and the Clippers make their lone trip to Cleveland just before the Break (Feb. 9) and, after visiting just before Thanksgiving last year, our old friend LeBron James and his new running mate Anthony Davis bring the LakeShow to town late (March 26) this season. The Cavs take both L.A. squads on in a mid-January back-to-back at STAPLES Center.

The Warriors come to town for a Saturday night showdown on Feb. 1; the Rockets roll in for a mid-December showdown and Mike Malone’s resurgent Nuggets come to town near the end of a five-game homestand in early March.

Star-Power

Now we know when the super-duos are coming to town – LeBron and Anthony Davis in late-March, the Beard and Russ on December 11 and the Klaw and PG in early February.

But that doesn’t mention any of the big-name rookies that come to town – like Zion Williamson and the Pelicans on January 28, Ja Morant and the Grizzlies on December 20, and R.J. Barrett, who makes his Cleveland debut on MLK Day.

The reigning Rookie of the Year, Luka Doncic, rolls in with Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavs on Nov. 3; Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the Blazers come to town on Nov. 23; Trae Young and the rejuvenated Hawks make their first Cleveland appearance on Dec. 23.

Back to the Basics

The Cavaliers will play most Eastern Conference squads four times, including all four Central Division rivals, but they’ll only face Toronto, Boston, Charlotte and Brooklyn three times each.

They start out with a nice balance, playing four of their first seven at home, but play just three of their final 10 in Cleveland – including a rough West Coast trip. Overall, just five of the Wine & Gold’s final 18 games are at home.

John Beilein’s young guns will play 14 back-to-backs this season – three home-road sets, three road-home sets, two home-home sets and six road sets. Once again, the Cavaliers are just above the league average in back-to-backs.

Day-by-Day

Fans can catch the Cavaliers on the weekend 36 times this campaign – including 12 Friday games, 17 Saturday contests and seven Sunday affairs. Cleveland also gets three of matinee games this season – versus Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Sixers on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. ET., against the Boston Celtics at 4 p.m. ET on Dec. 27 and then squaring off against the Knicks at 5 p.m. ET on MLK Day.

The Cavaliers are just over the average for Saturday and Sunday games.

The overall breakdown in weekday games are 14 Monday, 11 Tuesday, 13 Wednesday and eight on Thursday night.

No Rest for the Weary

The NBA breaks down a team’s travel schedule into three categories: Fresh, Tired and Even.

A team is "Fresh" if it did not play the day before and its opponent did, is "Tired" if it played the day before and its opponent did not and "Even" is if team and its opponent both played or both did not play the day before.

The Cavaliers will play nine road games "Fresh", 10 road games "Tired" and 63 games "Even".

The Wine & Gold will journey the league minimum when it comes to miles logged. Unlike weary travelers like Boston, Miami and Portland, the Cavs will put on just approximately 36,660 miles this season (with the league max being 50,738).

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