The NBA schedule was released last week. So we should check out a few important dates here.
Opening Night happens on October 30. Three games come on that night and that includes the Ring Ceremony at Miami. The Boston Celtics, who the Heat defeated in the Conference Finals last season, have to watch them get it. Other games going on that night are the Mavericks against the Lakers and the Wizards visiting the Cavaliers.
The battle of New York begins at November 1st when the Knicks face the Brooklyn Nets for the first time. The day after, the Clippers "visit" the Lakers for the battle of Los Angeles.
With the NFL owning Thanksgiving, the NBA decided NOT to put any games that day. But they DO own Christmas Day. I don't think the schedule that day was very desirable, though. The five games being played? Boston at Brooklyn is okay. New York at Lakers is NOT exactly highly anticipated. The Finals rematch between Oklahoma City and Miami is good. Houston at Chicago is blah. And Denver at Clippers isn't too good. I would've had both New York teams go against each other as well as both L.A. teams. They probably anticipated Linsanity to go against the Lakers.
Speaking of Linsanity, Jeremy Lin returns to Madison Square Garden as a Rocket on December 17. As for other notable returns? Ray Allen returns to Boston as a member of the Heat on January 27 and Steve Nash returns to Phoenix as a Laker on January 30.
Valentine's Day has suddenly become special. Two special games are slated. There is no love lost between the Heat and the Thunder... and another battle of L.A. occurs on Feb. 14.
Eight teams have a league-high 22 back-to-backs (Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Philadelphia). The fewest? Not the Lakers, as you might have suspected (they have 16). It's the Orlando Magic. They have 13 back-to-backs.
As far as having the most national TV games? The Heat, Thunder, and Knicks have 25 national games each (TNT, ESPN, ABC). I can never figure out how the repeatedly mediocre Knicks can get so many national TV appearances (well, I mean they're NYC but...). But the Thunder getting that many appearances is a great victory for small markets everywhere. The Lakers, who always get a lot of national TV appearances, have 24. The Clippers, who are one of the rising teams in the league, have 23 national TV appearances. Yes, sir. Times have changed.
This is great hearing about the schedule and all. But the bad news about this? The season starts on October 30, yes... but we're only on July 27.
Hurry up, summer.