Top 10 Games (in order of schedule)
1) Oct.27, At Golden State – On opening night the Pelicans get to watch the champs (and the Pelicans’ new head coach) received their rings and unfurl a banner, seven months after the Warriors swept New Orleans out of the playoffs.
2) Oct. 31, Golden State – Four days later, the champs return to New Orleans on Halloween night, which promises to bring a sold out crowd and elaborate costumes to the Smoothie King Center on the Saturday-night home opener. It’s the Warriors’ only appearance in New Orleans all season and could send a strong message to the city about the atmosphere possible inside the building.
3) Nov. 18, at Oklahoma City – The Pelicans won the critical tiebreaker and reached the playoffs over the Thunder last season thanks to an Anthony Davis buzzer-beater in OKC. Now Kevin Durant is back and the Thunder will be gunning at New Orleans in an early national TV matchup.
4) Dec. 4, Cleveland – LeBron James makes his only appearance at the Smoothie King Center on a Friday night, welcoming ESPN and what’s always a frenzied atmosphere to the building for the game’s emerging superstar (Davis) to face its most recognizable name (James).
5) Dec. 25, at Miami – For the first time since 2008, New Orleans will tip off on Christmas Day, which is one of the league’s most coveted spots.
6) Dec. 31, Clippers – Another occasion for elaborate costumes in the Smoothie King Center comes when the championship-seeking Clippers make a New Years Eve appearance in New Orleans. Former Hornets’ standout Chris Paul always elicits boos, as does star forward Blake Griffin and considering the dramatic summer that just unfolded, center DeAndre Jordan may join them as a source of ire.
7) Jan. 18, at Memphis – Another holiday, another premier Pelicans game. The Southwest Division rivals tangle on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in an afternoon tilt on ESPN. Both of these teams have traditionally played on MLK Day but never against each other.
8) March 2, at Houston – ESPN will be at the Toyota Center to broadcast the final game of the series between these two division opponents. The Rockets emerged as a true contender in last year’s playoffs, reaching the Western Conference Finals.
9) March 30, at San Antonio – This is the last game against a Southwest Division rival and last chance to make a statement to the Western Conference before a stretch of nearly all sub-.500 opponents awaits in the final two weeks of the season.
10) April 11, Chicago – The Bulls come to New Orleans in the season’s penultimate game and the Smoothie King Center’s home finale. On paper, this is the only game that could trip New Orleans up from an excellent finishing kick to the end of the regular season.