Naturally, that’s what happens when LeBron James leaves.
For the first time since the 2015-16 season, Cleveland is starting the year out on the road on Oct. 17 against the Toronto Raptors. From there, they will travel to Minnesota two days later before playing their home opener on Sunday Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. against the Atlanta Hawks.
After 39 nationally televised games in the 2017-18 season (12 of which came on TNT alone), the Cavs are slated to appear on ESPN just twice and NBA TV five times. They have zero TNT games.
At the beginning of the week, the NBA released their nationally televised game slates for opening week, Christmas Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Cavs were left out of all three, but will play a special matinee game on MLK Jr. Day against the Chicago Bulls at 1 p.m. that will be broadcast on Fox Sports Ohio.
The first major national broadcast game for Cleveland is, unsurprisingly, James’ return to Cleveland on Nov. 21 at 8 p.m as the Cavs take on the Lakers. ESPN will have the coverage. The Cavs will take on James in L.A. on Jan. 13 in a game that will be carried by NBA TV. The only other ESPN game comes on Feb. 13 against the Brooklyn Nets at home.
The matchup with the Golden State Warriors carries significantly less weight this time around. The defending champs will head to Quicken Loans Arena on Dec. 5. The Cavs will head to Oakland for their final road game of the regular season on April 5 as part of a five-game Western Conference road trip.
Cleveland will have 14 sets of back-to-back games this season, including four home-road sets, three home-home sets and five road-road sets.
The Cavs’ longest homestand consists of five games over 15 days (including the All-Star Break) from Feb. 11-25, featuring contests versus the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets before the break and Phoenix, Memphis and Portland after the break. Their second longest homestand is four games over seven days from Jan. 2-8.
Cleveland’s longest road trip takes place over 11 days. The Cavs will play six games from Jan. 9-19 out west. They will play eight road games each in November, December, January and March, tied for their most away games in a single month during 2018-19.