NBA road trip tips: 2016-17 edition


There’s nothing we like around here more than a good sports road trip, and as we’ve done for the NFL and NHL, we’ve analyzed the 2016-17 NBA schedule backwards and forwards to come up with some ideas to catch some hoops while you hit the road. And with a new arena in the rotation (in Sacramento) and plenty more interesting storylines around the league, there’s lots for you to see in the NBA’s arenas this season.

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) The Midwest kickoff

Tuesday, Oct. 25: Knicks at Cavaliers
Wednesday, Oct. 26: Mavericks at Pacers
Thursday, Oct. 27: Celtics at Bulls
Saturday, Oct. 29: Nets at Bucks

Cleveland will be celebrating its first pro sports title in more than 50 years as the Cavs raise their 2016 championship banner at Quicken Loans Arena, so get your season off to a rollicking start — if you can snag a ticket. Then head west, stopping at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, United Center in Chicago and BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. (Bonus: If you don’t mind heading backward, take a side trip to the Detroit area and catch Pistons-Magic at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday, Oct. 28.)

2) Eastern turkey trot

Saturday, Nov. 26: Spurs at Wizards
Sunday, Nov. 27: Cavaliers at 76ers
Monday, Nov. 28: Thunder at Knicks
Tuesday, Nov. 29: Clippers at Nets
Wednesday, Nov. 30: Pistons at Celtics

Looking for a way to burn off that Thanksgiving turkey? Take a tour through the Eastern seaboard’s NBA arenas, starting two days after T-Day with Spurs-Wizards at Verizon Center. From there, make your way north and catch games at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, Madison Square Garden in New York, Barclays Center in Brooklyn and TD Garden in Boston on consecutive days. You’ll need a good car with a toll transponder, or take advantage of the train.

3) Holiday week in the South

Tuesday, Dec. 27: Thunder at Heat
Wednesday, Dec. 28: Hornets at Magic
Friday, Dec. 30: Pistons at Hawks
Saturday, Dec. 31: Cavaliers at Hornets

Spend your time between Christmas and New Year’s Day catching some hoops in the South, starting in Miami with a 2012 Finals rematch at AmericanAirlines Arena. Next, head to Orlando’s Amway Center to see Hornets-Magic, then (after an off-day that you can spend at Disney World) check out games at Atlanta’s Philips Arena and Charlotte’s Spectrum Center. You’ll be ringing in 2017 with the Cavs and Hornets in the Queen City.

4) The West Coast swing

Thursday, Jan. 12: Mavericks at Suns
Saturday, Jan. 14: Lakers at Clippers
Sunday, Jan. 15: Pistons at Lakers
Monday, Jan. 16: Cavaliers at Warriors
Wednesday, Jan. 18: Pacers at Kings

You’ll be checking out Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix and catching both Clippers and Lakers home games at Staples Center on this jaunt. But let’s face it, the highlights of this trip will come once you reach NorCal: the Warriors host the Cavs at Oracle Arena in a rematch of last season’s Finals, and the Kings will be breaking in their sparkling new Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.

5) Touring the Southwest

Thursday, March 9: Spurs at Thunder
Friday, March 10: Nets at Mavericks
Saturday, March 11: Warriors at Spurs
Sunday, March 12: Cavaliers at Rockets
Tuesday, March 14: Trail Blazers at Pelicans

You can visit the home arenas of four of the five teams in the Southwest Division with this trip, which begins in Oklahoma City with the Thunder (of the Northwest Division) hosting the Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. From there, check out American Airlines Center in Dallas, AT&T Center in San Antonio, Toyota Center in Houston and Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. As an added bonus, the Warriors and Cavs are the visiting teams in two of these contests. (Bonus: If you’re willing to take a bit of a detour, veer off to Memphis and see Grizzlies-Bucks at FedExForum on Monday, March 13.)

6) The extended road trip

Friday, April 7: Pelicans at Nuggets
Saturday, April 8: Jazz at Trail Blazers
Sunday, April 9: Rockets at Kings
Monday, April 10: Jazz at Warriors

You’ll probably need a series of plane flights to cover the distances on this jaunt, but it’ll be worth it to close out the season in style. Start at Denver’s Pepsi Center, then head to Portland’s Moda Center and finish things out in Northern California with visits to the Golden 1 Center and Oracle Arena.

Edward de la FuenteEdward de la Fuente | Itinerant Fan
I live for sports, and I love to travel. My biggest thrill is combining the two. I’ve been blogging about sports travel for more than a decade, and traveling for sports for twice as long.
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