Dissecting the 2012-13 NBA Schedule
For the first time since way back in the 2010-11 season, the NBA is going to proceed in having a normal, 82-game season for 2012-13. Gone are the back-to-back-to-backs and ridiculous number of games over the span of a week. Now, both NBA teams and fans around the world can get back to their regularly scheduled regular season this fall after the mess that was the shortened 2012 season.
Freshly released Thursday evening, the schedule for the 2012-13 NBA season features plenty of highly anticipated matchups, homecomings and everything in between. Without further ado, let’s dive in to next season’s NBA schedule:
Opening night for the upcoming season will be on Oct. 30, with the Boston Celtics and Miami HEAT opening the season at 8 p.m. EST followed by the Dallas Mavericks at the Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 p.m. EST. Each game will be televised nationally on TNT.
The Celtics took the HEAT to the brink in a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals this past season and Ray Allen suiting up for Miami against his former team should be an interesting sight.
In the night cap, with each team coming off of a disappointing 2012 campaign, both the Mavericks and Lakers retooled and reloaded this offseason and the clash between the two Western Conference heavyweights should be fun to watch.
(If you live in either the Cleveland or Washington D.C. area, the Cavaliers and Wizards actually kick off the NBA season at 7 p.m. EST on Oct.30 but the game will not be televised nationally.)
A surprising team leads the way in terms of nationally televised games (broadcast on ABC, ESPN, TNT or NBATV) going into next season. While they have some new neighbors in a nearby borough, the New York Knicks are still the center of attention in New York – at least according to the NBA schedule-makers.
The Knicks will play 32 nationally televised games over the course of the 2012-13 season, one more the defending champion HEAT. Next in line are the NBA Finals runner-up Oklahoma City Thunder with 30 games played on national TV.
Another team playing in front of a national audience 30 times are the new-look Los Angeles Clippers. In what may be the first time ever, the Clippers (30) will play on the national stage more times than the team they share Staples Center with, the Los Angeles Lakers (29 appearances).
Notables Returning to Play Former Teams
With plenty of familiar faces in new places, there will be no shortage of NBA players returning to old stomping grounds next season.
- Steve Nash returns to face the team that originally drafted him in Phoenix, as the Lakers take on the Suns Jan. 30. While the Lakers have picked up a few key contributors going into next season, the Suns have been no slouch themselves. Phoenix has added Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley to the mix this summer to set up a young and possibly dangerous core going into next season.
- Ray Allen will travel back to Boston to play against a team he had played with in each of the past five seasons on Jan. 27. Even though Allen helped the Celtics to their first championship in over 20 years in 2008, it’s likely he’ll receive a hostile response from the crowd at the Garden. Warranted or not, Allen took less money to join a bitter rival in Miami fresh off a grueling seven-game victory over Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Jeremy Lin makes his way back to the place Linsanity was born in the Big Apple on Dec. 17. After the Knicks refused to match the Houston Rockets’ offer to Lin earlier this offseason, the point guard that started 25 games for New York last season was Houston bound. It will be interesting to see the Madison Square Garden response to Lin’s return considering how much NY embraced him and the subsequent mixed reaction to his departure.
- Jason Terry will make his return to the town he helped win a title in 2011 on March 22 – this time as a member of the Boston Celtics. Arguably the second most integral part of the 2011 postseason behind Dirk Nowitzki, Terry is a huge fan favorite in Dallas and believed wholeheartedly that Big D would be his last stop before retiring. Expect a huge ovation for Terry in his return to Dallas… that is, until he drains a huge three-pointer in the fourth quarter and JET’s down the baseline.
Some Highly Anticipated Games
Knicks vs. Nets – Nov. 1 in Brooklyn
Opening up the new Barclays Center and debuting as the Brooklyn Nets, the retooled team will have to contend with the cross-town New York Knicks to open up the season. Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace will be joined in the starting lineup by newcomer Joe Johnson, as Brooklyn will try to exert some early New York dominance against a star-studded Knicks squad.
Lakers vs. Thunder – Dec. 7 in Oklahoma City
Armed with Steve Nash (and maybe even Dwight Howard) as an addition to their already formidable core, the Lakers get their first shot at the defending Western Conference Champions in early December. The young Thunder remain largely intact from last season’s Finals run and each team will be intent on asserting Western Conference dominance.
Thunder vs. HEAT – Christmas Day in Miami
The rematch between last season’s NBA Finals foes will take place on one of the biggest days of the year for the NBA. Oklahoma City will be a year older and armed with the bitter disappointment of last season’s crushing 4-1 Finals defeat.
HEAT vs. Lakers – Jan. 17 in Los Angeles
The Lakers get their first crack at the defending NBA champs with a new weapon at point guard early on in 2013. Equipped with their own sharpshooter in Ray Allen, the HEAT and LeBron James will be primed and ready to go in their one and only visit to Staples Center next season.
Nets vs. Mavericks – March 20 in Dallas
After being spurned by the hometown kid Deron Williams over the summer, both the Mavericks and the Nets face off for their second and final meeting of the season in Dallas. Each team will have a solid idea of the type of squad they possess by this time of the year and playoff seedings in each conference could be on the line. Beyond wins and losses, proving that one side or the other was the better prospective destination for Williams will be a constant reminder during this one.
Most/Least Back-to-Back Games
As I mentioned at the start of this article, the dreaded back-to-back-to-back contests are done for but there are still teams with a hefty amount of back-to-back contests on tap for next season.
Leading the way are nine teams with a robust 22 back-to-back situations. Those teams are the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers.
On the other hand, the Orlando Magic play just 13 back-to-backs and the Oklahoma City Thunder play just 14. The Mavericks, Lakers and HEAT all play 16 back-to-backs.
What are you looking forward to the most in wake of Thursday’s release of the 2012-13 NBA schedule? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below!