Training Camp opens in just under a month for the Portland Trail Blazers and after just over a week of practice, Portland will tip-off their preseason schedule.
This is the fourth of a seven-part mini-series where we will look at the Blazers' schedule month by month. Where are the must-win games? What stretches pose the most difficulty? Where can they not afford to slip up? We'll cover all that.
Here's the rundown of the January schedule:
1/1 - 1/9 @ New York, Washington, Miami, Toronto, Minnesota: The Blazers have three road trips this season that are five games or longer, this is the second one. Most of the time coming back .500 from a long road trip is a success, but not this time. This is the type of road trip where you expect the Blazers to go 4-1, or even better, 5-0. Toronto may be the defending champs, but they certainly aren't the same team that won it all last year. New York, Washington, what you see is what you get. Minnesota, well, it depends on what Timberwolves team shows up. As for Miami, the only hard part will be getting Meyers Leonard to keep his shirt on when he shows you South Beach.
1/11 - 1/13: Home against Milwaukee and Charlotte: This is a fun little two-game stand with drastically different teams. The Bucks are likely to have one of the best records in the league, while the Hornets will be in the hunt for the No.1 overall pick in next year's draft. Take it in though, you only get to see Giannis in Portland once a year... and Charlotte could be one of those "load management" games.
1/15 - 1/18: @ Houston, Dallas, OKC: At Houston has always been a tough game, and there is plenty of extra intrigue in this one with Westbrook on the Rockets now. All hands on deck, cause you're going to need them. Things get easier in Dallas, then you get to return to OKC for the second of a back-to-back and a matchup against the Oklahoma City Blue... Oh, wait. That's the G-League team in OKC. After this offseason, it's hard to tell the difference.
1/20 - 1/29: Home against Golden State, Dallas, Indiana, Houston: This will be a tough homestand. Just a week after playing the Mavericks and Rockets you have to play them again, then you have the always tough Warriors (even without the departed Kevin Durant and injured Klay Thompson), and you get to throw the always tough Pacers in there as well. You have got to take advantage of games at home, but this will be a tough stretch. 2-2 could be considered a victory here.
1/31 @ Los Angeles Lakers: Finally the Blazers end the month with a one-game trip to Hollywood. With the offseason the Lakers had this could be one of those classic Blazers - Lakers games. If it helps reignite the rivalry, we're all for it... especially since the Blazers will win this one. Shooting our shot!
Breaking down the Trail Blazers' schedule: January originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest