Seven games to watch in Kings’ 2015-16 schedule

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The 2015-16 NBA schedule is out for the Sacramento Kings. Yesterday the league announced its full docket of games for next season and there is no shortage of drama throughout.

There are plenty of old faces in new places to look forward to seeing and a few rivalries brewing.  We broke down several games that stand out in the Kings’ 2015-16 schedule.

The home opener against Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, Oct. 28

The first game of the regular season is always the most anticipated contest of the year, and this year is no exception.  Vlade Divac revamped the Kings roster in a serious way and this will be the first true test for a team desperate to improve.  The Clippers have added talent in the form of Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce and they are hoping to wash the taste of last season’s collapse out of their collective mouths.

Chris Paul vs. Rajon Rondo is intriguing, as is rookie Willie Cauley-Stein vs. All-Star Blake Griffin.  There is bad blood between these two teams and this is a perfect tilt to open the 2015-16 schedule.

The World Champion Golden State Warriors on Saturday, Nov. 7

After a 40-year drought, the Warriors took home the title last season.  The Warriors dominated the Kings last season, winning all four matchups by a combined 88 points, including a 95-77 drubbing on opening night.  The Kings have increased their talent level greatly this offseason, but is it enough to compete with the champs?

This game also marks Jason Thompson’s first chance to play his former team after seven seasons and 541 games in a Kings uniform.

Rajon Rondo takes on his former Dallas Mavericks teammates on Monday, Nov. 30

Rondo was sent packing by head coach Rick Carlisle during last season’s playoffs and the team even voted not to give him a playoff bonus share.  Sacramento may have been Rondo’s only option this offseason after the way things played out in Dallas.  A 29-year-old four-time All-Star with only one option?

If Rondo isn’t looking for redemption in Sacramento, then something is wrong with him.  The former Boston Celtics guard will look to smash his former team and he has DeMarcus Cousins and close friend Rudy Gay to lend a hand.

First TNT game of the season against the New York Knicks on Thursday Dec. 10.

This is the first of two scheduled TNT games for the Sacramento Kings.  The Knicks aren’t expected to be world beaters this season, but it’s not often the Kings are featured on the NBA’s biggest stage.  It also gives fans their first look at Kristaps Porzingis, the 7-footer from Latvia that had drawn the interest of Divac during the draft.

First matchup of the year against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Jan. 13

This game highlights two of the great young big men in the league.  Anthony Davis gets all the fanfare, but Cousins has been absolutely dominant against the Pelicans.  The two stars will not go one-on-one very often, but just having them on the floor at the same time is special.

Cauley-Stein will get his first taste of guarding Davis, which should be a great matchup for years to come.  These are two teams on the rise with huge expectations this season.  By mid-January, we should have a good idea if they are contenders or pretenders for a 2015-16 playoff spot.

Michael Malone returns on Friday, Feb. 19

This story has been told and retold a thousand times at this point.  Malone was unceremoniously removed from his head coaching position with the Sacramento Kings while the team  was in the midst of a December swoon last season.  The Brooklyn native didn’t stay down long.  He returns to Sacramento with Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari and the Denver Nuggets for a post-All-Star break battle.

This will also mark the first time Emmanuel Mudiay comes to Sacramento after spurning the Kings’ advances during the draft process.  Divac passed on the talented point guard with the sixth pick in the draft, choosing Cauley-Stein and his defensive prowess over a player that had no interest in playing for the Kings.

The home finale against OKC on Saturday, Apr. 9

The Kings would love to be in a dog fight for a playoff spot at this point of the season, but this game will mean so much more for so many.  After 28 seasons in Arco Arena II, this is the final regular season game.  Kings fans have been through a lot over the last half decade, but they are a proud lot with an affinity towards a building that has long outlived its life expectancy.  Expect a lot of tears, a lot of emotion and a building bursting at the seams with noise.

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