The last time we saw NBA basketball being played, it featured a thrilling NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. The Spurs were within an eyelash of winning their fifth NBA championship in 15 years before LeBron James, Ray Allen and the Heat snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Game 6. They used that momentum to win Game 7 & their second consecutive NBA championship.
On August 6th, the NBA released its schedule for the 2013-2014 season. Such a season will see many things different from the previous campaign. This includes Dwight Howard as a Houston Rocket, Metta World Peace as a New York Knick, and the debut of the New Orleans Pelicans. Russell Westbrook will return for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Andrew Bynum will play his first game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Josh Smith is with the Detroit Pistons, and many eyes will be on Kobe Bryant as the basketball universe eagerly awaits his return.
The season’s start date will be Tuesday October 29th as the Orlando Magic take on the Eastern Conference runners-up Indiana Pacers. It will also see the NBA debut of Victor Oladipo. Ironically, that debut will take place in Indiana where Oladipo played his college ball.
October 29th will also see a doubleheader on TNT, featuring the two time defending champion Miami Heat facing the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. It will likely see the return of Derrick Rose to the Bulls’ lineup and features two teams that are legitimate championship contenders for this year.
The late game of that October 29th doubleheader features LA vs. LA. Clippers and Lakers. Both teams have experienced their share of changes this offseason. The Lakers lost Dwight Howard to the Rockets in free agency despite organizing a region-wide campaign meant at keeping Superman in the City of Angels. They’ve since tried to reunite some pieces from their 2009 and 2010 NBA Finals winning teams including Jordan Farmar. They’ve been also in the running to sign Lamar Odom. The Clippers introduced former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers as their new head coach, primarily, to keep Chris Paul happy. In addition, they also signed two shooters in J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. For a change, there’s more championship optimism around the Clippers than the Lakers even though LA is considered a Laker town.
The Sacramento Kings are under new management with Vivek Ranadive now owning the team with dreams of a new arena for his club. They tip off at home on October 30th to play Kenneth Faried and the Denver Nuggets in their first matchup after being embroiled in an ownership saga that nearly saw the Kings acquired by a Seattle-based investment group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer. It would’ve moved the Kings to the Emerald City. Also for the Nuggets, it will be their first game since parting ways with George Karl as head coach and hiring former Lakers assistant Brian Shaw.
November 1st on ESPN will see two matchups sure to receive a lot of attention. The Heat will take on the new look (and Jason Kidd-coached) Brooklyn Nets. They, of course, now have Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The nightcap of the November 1st doubleheader will see the Spurs and Lakers.
On November 2nd, the New Orleans Pelicans shall take on the Charlotte Bobcats at the New Orleans Arena. The Pelicans were once the Hornets, but rebranded after being bought by Saints owner Tom Benson. The rebranding of the New Orleans Hornets into the Pelicans has allowed for Hugo to “buzz” back to the Queen City and return the Charlotte Hornets to that city, which will take place after the conclusion of the 2013-2014 season.
November 27th will see the Heat visit the Cavs in Cleveland in one of LeBron James’ two trips to the Quicken Loans Arena in 2013-2014. This is amidst speculation that he may opt out of his Miami Heat contract and return to Cleveland for the 2014 season.
With the additions the Knicks and Nets have made, the “Battle of the Boroughs” will certainly take on a heightened level of interest. The two Gotham rivals will face each other first on December 5th at the Barclays Center. The scene will shift to Madison Square Garden on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 20th on ESPN.
December 4th and 5th will also see when the NBA puts its international schedule into full swing. On the 4th, the Spurs will face the Minnesota Timberwolves in Mexico. The 5th will see the Nets face the Atlanta Hawks in London.
December 11th will be a day to mark on the calendar of the NBA programme. The Clippers will play the Celtics in Boston in what will be Doc Rivers’ return to the TD Banknorth Garden. Boston’s new coach is Brad Stevens who once coached the non NCAA-power conference Butler Bulldogs to consecutive appearances in the NCAA Championship Game.
On Christmas Day, four things are certain. Good food will be eaten, we will get (or not get) the presents we wanted from Santa, your local radio stations will be playing Yuletide tunes, and a lot of basketball will be played. This year’s Christmas Day schedule sets up like this:
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets (12pm on ESPN)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ New York Knicks (2:30pm on ABC)
Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Lakers (5:00pm on ABC)
Houston Rockets @ San Antonio Spurs (8:00pm on ESPN)
In addition to Nets vs. Knicks, the MLK Day slate of games also includes Pelicans vs. Grizzlies, Lakers vs. Bulls, and Pacers vs. Warriors.
Another huge day on the NBA schedule is January 26th. The Nets will face the Celtics at the TD Garden in what will be Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s return to the City of Beans since leaving town. Also, it will be the first time that the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs face off against each other in a Finals rematch. That January 26th matchup will be at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. The Heat and Spurs will also play each other on March 6th from San Antonio’s AT&T Center.
February 1st will feature 12 games on the NBA schedule, but it is also an important date in NBA history. On this day, David Stern steps down as commissioner of the league and the Adam Silver “administration” will begin. Silver is currently the league’s deputy commissioner.
The “midpoint” of the season will happen during the weekend of February 14th to the 16th when the NBA All-Star Game takes place on the 16th from New Orleans. The last time All-Star weekend took on a theme of jazz, zydeco, gumbo, Cajun country, and Bourbon Street was six years ago in 2008.
The season will conclude on April 16th, will all 30 teams in action. This includes the Charlotte Bobcats playing their final game as the Bobcats, ironically, against the Chicago Bulls—the team who current Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is most associated with.
After that day, the playoffs will commence and another champion will be crowned in June of 2014. As for now, the countdown to Tuesday, October 29th is officially underway.
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