The NBA season will begin nearly two weeks earlier than usual this season, meaning we are under a month before the regular season tips off. The Sacramento Kings are set to begin the first season of the post-Cousins era and their second playing at the Golden 1 Center.

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There are a handful of must-see games that Kings fans should begin to circle on their calendars.

October 18th vs Houston Rockets

The Kings will open their season at home on October 18th against the Houston Rockets. Houston will be looking to showcase the new weapon they acquired in this summer’s arms race in Chris Paul, whom they’ve teamed with James Harden to create a new threat out west. Eyes will be on the Rockets this season as they look to challenge Golden State for best backcourt in the league.

October 26th vs New Orleans Pelicans

The Kings first of four nationally televised games comes just a week into the season on October 26th, when they host the New Orleans Pelicans and DeMarcus Cousins in his first game in Sacramento since the trade in February. Bad blood certainly exists between Cousins and the Sacramento front office, and Cousins has apparently circled the game on his calendar.

“I can’t wait. Oh, my God. I can’t wait,” Cousins told The Undefeated. “I’m praying its the first game. I just got a lot to get off my chest. I can’t wait.” The game will be on TNT.

November 22 vs Los Angeles Lakers

Another highly anticipated match-up early in the season is the November 22nd matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.The Kings/Lakers rivalry has diminished over the last decade, but received a breath of life during the 2017 NBA Draft when the Lakers selected Lonzo Ball and the Kings picked De’Aaron Fox. The two point guards have a budding rivalry of their own, which will help to re-ignite the animosity between the fan bases. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Games in December

The month of December brings some tough matchups for Sacramento. They play both the Cavaliers and the Raptors twice. They play the Spurs two days before Christmas. There are games on the road against young, tough teams like the Bucks, Wolves, and 76ers. The second meeting of the season with the Pelicans takes place in New Orleans on the 8th, and Memphis comes to town on New Year"s Eve.

Games in January

From January 9th - 30th, Sacramento plays a grand total of two home games at the Golden 1 Center. They’ll play both the Lakers and Clippers in Los Angeles, as well as the Thunder in OKC. Their six-game road trip to close out the month ends with the season’s second meeting with the Pelicans.

Games in February

The first game of February is a nationally televised bout at the Golden 1 Center against the Warriors. The game will hardly be a battle for Northern California supremacy since the participants are likely to be at opposite ends of the standings by midseason. Kings fans will remember, however, last February’s overtime victory over the Warriors who were 43-7 at the time. Fun Fact: It was the last time the Warriors lost with their lineup at full strength until Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

There is a convenient quirk in Sacramento’s schedule this season. The All-Star break, which begins on February 15th after a 3-game Midwest road trip, lasts a full week. The break is followed by a 16-day, 9-game stretch when the Kings only road game is in Portland. The stretch ends on March 11th when the team travels to Denver.

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Tankathon 2018

Because of the horrendous Nik Stauskas trade that sent an unprotected 2019 1st round pick to the 76ers, the Kings 2018 draft pick is an imperative asset for their rebuild. Luckily, the youth of the current Kings roster will almost assuredly land them a top ten pick. They’ll also get a little bit of help from the schedule when it comes time for the inevitable tank. Nine of the Sacramento’s final 13 games are against playoff teams from last season. Four of their last five are on the road, including Memphis and San Antonio, before finishing up exactly as they started: home for Houston.