NEW YORK (Sports Network) – The National Basketball Association unveiled its full 82-game regular-season schedule on Thursday night.
Opening Night is set for October 30, and it will be a spectacle as LeBron James and the rest of the Miami Heat will see their championship banner raised to the rafters. They begin their title defense by hosting the Boston Celtics, who couldn’t hold a 3-2 series edge in the Eastern semifinals against the south Florida club.
The showdown also pits Ray Allen against his former team, as the NBA’s all- time three-point leader joined the Heat via free agency this offseason just weeks after getting bounced in the playoffs by them.
Storylines will also be aplenty in another Opening Night matchup, with Steve Nash and his new team, the Los Angeles Lakers, hosting Dirk Nowitzki and the 2011 NBA Champion Mavericks. The two-time league MVP was acquired by the perennial contenders in a sign-and-trade with the Suns several weeks ago.
Nash’s first visit to Phoenix will be on January 30.
Before that, though, there will five games from coast to coast on Christmas Day, starting at noon (ET) with the Celtics visiting the Nets at their new arena in Brooklyn. The Knicks and Lakers are the appetizer to a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals — the Oklahoma City Thunder versus the Heat in Miami.
The Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls will precede the holiday nightcap of the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
The aforementioned Nets, in their first season since moving from their arena in Newark, New Jersey, host the intra-city rival Knicks in their home opener on November 1.
One of the highlights of New York’s roller-coaster 2011-12 season was Jeremy Lin, who tested the free agent market and landed in Houston. Lin will make his Rockets debut at Detroit on October 31.
Oklahoma City and the San Antonio Spurs, last season’s Western Conference Finals matchup, will do battle on November 1.
The NBA will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a few afternoon games, starting with the Pacers and Grizzlies in Memphis.
The All-Star Game will take place in Houston on February 17.
The regular season ends on April 17 with 15 games, and the playoffs will start three days later.
The full 82-game slate is a refreshing change from the lockout-shortened, 66- game campaign that just ended.
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