Jul 19, 2011, 2:50 PM EDT
This NBA season is shaping up to be a fun one.
Yes, we know, we know… IF there is an NBA season. But deep down we want to believe that the owners and players are too smart to piss away all the momentum the league has built up. For today we’re going to move ahead with the assumption the entire NBA schedule is going to be played. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…
So here are your schedule highlights.
Opening Night, Tuesday Nov. 1: Chicago at the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, which means a banner gets raised and players get their rings (or whatever); also Oklahoma City against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nov. 2, the New York Knicks christen the renovated Madison Square Garden with a season opener against the Miami Heat. Also, Mark Jackson gets to start his coaching career at home as Golden State catches a Lakers team on a back-to-back.
Nov. 3, Orlando Magic on the road against the Miami Heat, and Andre Miller and his new Nuggets teammates take on his old team in Portland.
Nov. 13, the Chicago Bulls start their annual circus trip, on the road for eight straight games while clowns fill the United Center. No, not Vinny Del Negro, actual clowns.
Nov. 16, Carmelo Anthony makes his return to Denver as a member of the Knicks.
Also, the Boston Celtics travel to Miami to face the Heat. Little Miami Heat note here, they start the season off with 9 of 12 at home and 25 home games in the first three months of the season, then just 16 the last three months.
Nov. 18, Miami comes to Cleveland and while the rest of the nation has moved on there’s still some anger in that city.
Nov. 24, Thanksgiving, Philadelphia at Atlanta and the New Orleans Hornets take on Blake Griffin and the Clippers.
Dec. 8, the Los Angeles Lakers at the Miami Heat.
Dec. 15, the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Dallas and try not to be embarrassed again.
Dec. 25, Christmas, just three games on the schedule that day: Boston at New York, Miami at Dallas in a finals rematch, and Chicago at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jan. 6, Milwaukee travels to Phoenix — the Bucks have not won in Phoenix since 1987.
Jan. 12, Sacramento at Utah, also known as the Jimmer Fredette homecoming game.
Jan. 14, Deron Williams returns to Utah as the Nets come to visit.
Feb. 6, San Antonio Spurs start their nine-game rodeo road trip staring against the Wizards (a rodeo takes over the Spurs arena for a couple weeks).
Feb. 9, the Los Angeles Lakers come to Boston, and not just to see the Bill Russell statue.
Feb. 26, NBA All-Star game in Orlando… the perfect family-friendly city for an event filled with wild parties and debauchery.
March 11, Boston comes to Los Angeles to see the Lakers and not just Jack Nicholson.
March 29, Dallas finally comes back to Miami for a finals rematch.
April 1, a rematch of one of the best playoff series, Memphis at San Antonio.
April 17, Spurs at Lakers — these two old rivals play two of the final four games of the season against each other.