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July 27, 2012

NBA: Heat-Celtics set for opening night on Oct. 30

NEW YORK — Miami's championship defense will begin where they won last season's title, and the first game for the Brooklyn Nets will be at home against their now-crosstown rival.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat will raise their title banner at home on Oct. 30 against the Boston Celtics as part of an opening-night tripleheader, meaning Ray Allen's first game with Miami will come against his former club and in a rematch of last season's seven-game Eastern Conference finals.

Also on opening night, Washington visits Cleveland (technically the season's first game, starting an hour earlier than the Boston-Miami matchup) and Dallas plays at the Los Angeles Lakers, Steve Nash's debut as Kobe Bryant's teammate.

"We all know this season is a very important one. We'd like to get back on top as a team,'' Lakers forward Pau Gasol said Thursday in London, where he and the Spanish national team were wrapping up preparations for the start of the Olympics.

The Nets, having now moved from New Jersey, will open the year Nov. 1 at home against the New York Knicks - whose Manhattan home is about 6 miles north of Brooklyn's Barclays Center. And NBA finalist Oklahoma City starts the season that same night, playing at San Antonio in a Western Conference finals rematch.

Jeremy Lin won't be in that Knicks-Nets opener - his return to Madison Square Garden comes Dec. 17. The Knicks play in Houston on Nov. 23.

As for the NBA Finals rematches, both will get national-television treatment. The Thunder visit the Heat as part of a five-game slate on Christmas Day (to be aired on ABC), and the Heat will head to Oklahoma City on Feb. 14, a game to be shown on TNT.

The All-Star Game is in Houston on Feb. 17. The regular season ends April 17.

In all, 238 games are expected to be televised nationally, with 96 on NBATV (including Lin's trip back to New York), 75 on ESPN, 52 on TNT (highlighted by Brooklyn's first game and All-Star weekend) and 15 on ABC (with Allen's return to Boston on Jan. 27 among those). The Finals in June will again be aired on ABC.

While Miami might be the site of the marquee matchup on Dec. 25, Los Angeles will get a Christmas doubleheader: The Lakers play host to the Knicks, and five hours or so after that game ends, the Clippers will get a visit from the Denver Nuggets.

Reigning NBA MVP LeBron James spent seven seasons chasing a title in Cleveland, then finally won one in his second season with Miami. But the season will be winding down by the time he and the Heat head to Cleveland again: Miami is set to play there on March 20, and then again on April 15 in the regular-season road finale for the champions.

Miami guard Dwyane Wade will be spending his birthday in Los Angeles, a secret he tipped his Twitter followers off to earlier this week: The Heat wrap up a six-game road trip against the Lakers on Jan. 17, the day when Wade turns 31.

The NBA has an eight-game schedule on Jan. 21, commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with four national TV matchups - Indiana at Memphis, the Nets at the Knicks, the Spurs at Philadelphia and the Lakers at Chicago.

Maybe the game's most storied rivalry resumes in February: The Lakers are in Boston on Feb. 7, and the Celtics go to Los Angeles on Feb. 20.

Top draft pick Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets start their season at home on Oct. 31 against San Antonio. Another Hornets game that will almost certainly get some attention is scheduled for Jan. 16 in Boston - where New Orleans rookie Austin Rivers would be facing a Celtics team coached by his father, Boston's Doc Rivers.

Meanwhile, one NBA star who was widely expected to change teams and still has not - Dwight Howard - would have his season-opener with the Orlando Magic on Nov. 2 at home against Denver.

Among other matchups of note involving players who changed teams in recent weeks:

- Nash will play in Phoenix, the city where he won two MVP awards, as a visitor again on Jan. 30.

- Joe Johnson returns to Atlanta for the first time with the Nets on Jan. 16.

- Brandon Roy joined Minnesota this offseason, so he'll get his first view of the visiting bench in Portland on Nov. 23.

- Jason Terry's return to Dallas would be March 22, when the Celtics make their trip to play the Mavericks.

 

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