Miami Heat fans will have to wait a few nights to see new arrivals LeBron James and Chris Bosh in person, considering the NBA has the team opening its much-anticipated season Oct. 26 against the Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston.
Those are the same Celtics who ended the Heat's 2009-10 season. The match-up holds a particular significance for newcomer James -- the Celtics ultimately defeated him and his Cleveland Cavaliers in what became his final game in Cleveland (and one that James gave up on, according to jilted Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert). The Heat-Celtics game will be the first official game of the NBA season.
Three days later, on Oct. 29, the Heat will host Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in its first home game at AmericanAirlines Arena with the “Three Kings.”
In the other conference, the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers will host the Houston Rockets in the second half of opening night Oct. 26. This game will feature a championship ring ceremony, the raising of the Lakers' 16th title banner and mark the return of Yao Ming to the Rockets’ rotation. In a lesser storyline, it will highlight the Ron Artest-Trevor Ariza rivalry. Last season, when Ariza lost his shoe during a play, Artest bent over to pick it up and tossed it into the stands.
The New York Knicks open the season on the road against the Bosh-less Toronto Raptors. They will have to wait to showcase Amare Stoudemire in his Madison Square Garden debut on Oct. 30 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Meanwhile, December 2 -- in what is easily the most anticipated game of the regular season -- will mark James’ return to his ex-home of Cleveland, and will no doubt feature heavy security on hand to prevent angry fans from doing anything too crazy. The Cavaliers are also scheduled to play the Heat on December 15, January 31 and March 29.
The Lakers and Heat will meet for what some believe to be the preview of the 2010-11 NBA Finals on Christmas Day. In the “JV” game on December 25, the new-look Chicago Bulls will match up against the Knicks.
The entire NBA schedule for the upcoming season will be made available next Tuesday, August 10.