The NBA released their schedule Tuesday afternoon and unsurprisingly, all 30 teams will play 82 games. All will also play back to backs. Past that, it's all about the national TV schedule, which features a ton of the World Champion Miami Heat and both teams from Los Angeles.
The Lakers will be on ABC, ESPN or TNT 22 times, while the Clippers have 17 games on the same network. Meanwhile the Heat have 24 nationally televised games.
While there will be plenty of action before Christmas Day, the NBA's slate of games on that day have long been seen as the unofficial start of the season. This year it features five games, starting with the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder taking on the New York Knicks, Heat facing the Lakers, Houston Rockets taking on the San Antonio Spurs. The Clippers travel to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors to close out the day.
The Heat receive their rings opening night, October 29, before hosting the Bulls, in what will presumably be Derrick Rose's return. That is followed by the Clippers hosting the Lakers, or is it the Clippers hosting the Lakers? Either way, you get the idea.
Dwight Howard faces the Lakers for the first time since signing with the Rockets when Houston hosts L.A. November 7. While the Spurs and Heat will not have a rematch of their epic Finals on Christmas Day, the two teams do face each other on ABC January 26. That is also the first non-football Sunday of the season. Speaking of the Heat, assuming he is healthy, Greg Oden returns to Portland for the first time as a member of the Heat on December 28.
Other key returns to look for include the Celtics. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce return to Boston as members of the Brooklyn Nets January 26. That game can be seen on ESPN. Doc Rivers makes his return to Beantown early in the season as the Clippers and Celtics take on each other December 11.