The NBA gods (read: league execs) have smiled upon the Miami Heat once again.
When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh announced they would join forces on the Miami Heat, critics cautioned about three hugely talented players needing time to "develop their chemistry."
Looks like they’ll get that time in the form of eight of their first 12 games being played at home. According to the schedule released by the NBA today, the new-look Heat will open the season on Oct. 26 against the Boston Celtics on the road, then debut at home against the Orlando Magic on Oct. 29. The team will then get a six-game homestand from Nov. 6-19.
In a TV ratings dream, James and the Heat will face his old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Dec. 2. (Metal detectors are strongly encouraged at all stadium entrances.) The game will come almost five months after he publicly denounced his hometown squad and infamously expressed his desire to "take his talents to South Beach" on an ESPN special. The Cavaliers, in turn, will visit Miami on Dec. 15 and Jan 31, while the Heat will meet Cleveland for the final time in the 2010-11 season on Mar. 29.
Bosh will face his former team the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 13 and Jan. 22 in Miami, and then on Feb. 16 and Apr. 13 in Toronto. No word if Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo expects Bosh to quit on the Heat in those games. Raptors fans have a history of not forgetting players who left them, highlighted by heavy boos for Vince Carter when he returned to Canada. Expect Bosh to get his fair share of sneers and jeers as well.
The Heat’s longest road trip will be a five-game swing against the Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls to kick off January. If, as Jeff Gundy predicts, this team has any hope of beating the Chicago Bulls all-time best record mark of 70-12, you may want to circle this road trip right now. Road games are tough enough -- but games at the Blazers, Nuggets and Bulls won't be easy. No matter the Heat's talent.
Miami will have two six-game homestands, one in November, and then one from Mar. 6-16 during which they’ll face the Bulls, Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The league only permits a team to be on national television up to 34 times, and the Miami Heat are scheduled to be on 29 times.
Don't think network officials won't be eyeing those five remaining slots as the year progresses.