In our never-ending quest to find good sports road trip ideas, we’ve analyzed the 2017-18 NBA schedule and, similar to what we’ve done with the NFL and NHL, have come up with some itineraries to catch some hoops while you hit the road.
If you’ve ever thought about hitting the road to watch hoops, this season is a good time to do it. There’s a new arena being used (Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena), this year’s regular-season slate is starting earlier than normal (Oct. 17), and after a summer of change, plenty of good games and intriguing storylines await.
A few ground rules for these itineraries:
- We looked to pack as many games into as small a timeframe as possible, at least considering typical travel times (we won’t suggest you travel cross-country for games on back-to-back days, for instance).
- We’re only looking at trips where you’re traveling in the same general direction as you go from city to city (so no zig-zagging around).
- We tried to limit the number of times you see a particular team to twice (admittedly difficult, as many times it’s easier to plan a trip through a region because a certain team is on a road jaunt through it).
- And we looked only at minimum four-city trips, because hey, longer trips are more fun.
There are undoubtedly a few other trip ideas that we passed over or simply overlooked — if you’ve got a trip idea you’d like to share with us, or better yet, if you’ve got a kick-ass trip planned, let us know about it! In the meantime, here are our ideas in all their glory:
1) Big-game beginnings
Tuesday, Oct. 17: Rockets at Warriors
Wednesday, Oct. 18: Rockets at Kings
Thursday, Oct. 19: Clippers at Lakers
Friday, Oct. 20: Lakers at Suns
The defending champion Warriors will be raising their newest banner at Oracle Arena on opening night against the Rockets. Kick off your season-opening road trip there, then follow the Rockets to Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center before heading south to catch an all-L.A. matchup at Staples Center, followed by another Pacific Division tilt at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena.
(Bonus games, if you don’t mind adding a plane flight or two to the end of the itinerary: Thunder vs. Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Saturday, Oct. 21, and Timberwolves vs. Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday, Oct. 22.)
2) Southwest circle
Thursday, Nov. 9: Cavaliers at Rockets
Friday, Nov. 10: Bucks at Spurs
Saturday, Nov. 11: Cavaliers at Mavericks
Sunday, Nov. 12: Mavericks at Thunder
Try this four-day weekend on for size: Start at Houston’s Toyota Center with a marquee matchup between the Rockets and Cavs. Then hit up San Antonio’s AT&T Center, Dallas’ American Airlines Center and OKC’s Chesapeake Energy Arena. Leave some time to get some Texas BBQ while you’re at it.
3) The early Christmas jaunt
Monday, Dec. 18: Trail Blazers at Timberwolves
Tuesday, Dec. 19: Cavaliers at Bucks
Wednesday, Dec. 20: Magic at Bulls
Thursday, Dec. 21: Bulls at Cavaliers
Friday, Dec. 22: Knicks at Pistons
Start your Christmas break off early and head to the Midwest for this five-city trip that includes visits to Target Center in Minneapolis, BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee (in its farewell season, as the Bucks are set to move into a new arena in 2018), United Center in Chicago, Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Yes, you’ll have to backtrack a bit to get from Cleveland to Detroit, but it should be worth it to check out the Pistons’ swanky new digs.
4) New Year of hoops
Sunday, Dec. 31: Nets at Celtics
Monday, Jan. 1: Magic at Nets
Tuesday, Jan. 2: Spurs at Knicks
Wednesday, Jan. 3: Spurs at 76ers
Ring in the new year on the East Coast watching some hoops, starting with a New Year’s Eve matinee at Boston’s TD Garden. Then, get down to New York — hopefully in enough time to watch the ball drop in Times Square — and see the Nets at Barclays Center and the Knicks at Madison Square Garden before finishing things up with a 76ers home game at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia.
(Cross-sport bonus: There’ll be plenty of hockey going on in these parts this particular week as well, starting with the Winter Classic between the Sabres and Rangers at New York’s Citi Field on Jan. 1. If you want to combine hoops with puck, check out the New Year’s week itinerary on our NHL road trip tip post.
5) Southeastern swing
Sunday, Feb. 25: Pistons at Hornets
Monday, Feb. 26: Lakers at Hawks
Wednesday, Feb. 28: Raptors at Magic
Thursday, March 11: Lakers at Heat
If winter is still raging in your neck of the woods, get away to some warmer climes and catch some basketball while you’re at it. On this trip you’ll work your way down the Atlantic coast with stops at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center, Atlanta’s Philips Arena, Orlando’s Amway Center and Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.
6) The extended road trip
Tuesday, March 13: Clippers at Bulls
Thursday, March 15: Raptors at Pacers
Saturday, March 17: Nuggets at Grizzlies
Tuesday, March 20: Mavericks at Pelicans
Thursday, March 22: Pistons at Rockets
Friday, March 23: Jazz at Spurs
Saturday, March 24: Hornets at Mavericks
Sunday, March 25: Trail Blazers at Thunder
This trip is spread out over a whopping 12 days, and breaks a couple of the rules listed above, but hey, it’s too much fun not to list. It’s spread out a bit because of the distances between cities early in the trip, but you’ll see some of the NBA’s more unique markets — Indianapolis (Bankers Life Fieldhouse), Memphis (FedExForum) and New Orleans (Smoothie King Center). Then, if you’ve got time, attach a swing through Texas and Oklahoma to the end of it.
If some brave soul decides to do this trip — or any of the others on this list — please let us know!