The NBA took the wraps off some of its marquee match-ups for the upcoming 2010-11 season and not surprisingly the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, their rival the Boston Celtics, whom they defeated in The Finals, and the revitalized Miami Heat are front and center. Scoring champ Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder will also be in the spotlight.
The campaign tips off NBA on "TNT Premiere Week Presented by AutoTrader.com"on Tuesday, Oct. 26, with the debut of Miami's triumvirate of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as the Heat visits the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics and their All-Star trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, plus Ray Allen and newcomer Shaquille O'Neal at 7:30 p.m. (ET). The second game of TNT's exclusive doubleheader will feature the two-time defending champion L.A. Lakers and Finals Most Valuable Player Kobe Bryant at 10:30 p.m., hosting returning seven-time NBA All-Star center Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets.
ESPN gets into the new season with its own twinbill on Oct. 27 as the Chicago Bulls, featuring Derrick Rose and newcomer Carlos Boozer and coach Tom Thibodeau, visit the Thunder. That's followed by a potential confrontation between former No. 1 draft picks Greg Oden, whose Portland Trail Blazers, visit Staples Center to battle, LA's other team, the Clippers in what figures to be the pro debut of Blake Griffin.
TNT has another doubleheader on tap Oct. 28, beginning with two-time defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard and perennial Eastern Conference power Orlando Magic hosting the Washington Wizards at its new Amway Center in the debut of John Wall, the league's number one overall draft pick in 2010. The second tilt showcases two of the league's best point guards as Deron Williams and the Utah Jazz host Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.
ESPN's second opening-week doubleheader on Oct. 29 showcases the Heat in its home opener against upstate rival, the Magic and their "Superman," Howard. The Lakers and the revamped Suns trail in a Western Conference Final rematch of sorts.
For its part, NBA TV takes the court with four consecutive nights, beginning Oct. 30, with All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups leading the Denver Nuggets against the Rockets at 8:30 p.m. The network's coverage will continue on Halloween, with the Jazz visiting Durant's Thunder (7 p.m. ET). On Nov. 1, the Bulls battle the Blazers and All-Star Brandon Roy (8 p.m. ET). NBA TV's voting will begin on Oct. 26 to select the first Fan Night match-up of the season to air on Nov. 2.
The Walt Disney Co. will once again supply pro basketball backers with a Christmas gift of five ballgames, highlighted by ABC's coverage of the Lakers-Heat at 5 p.m. (ET). At 2:30 p.m., the Alphabet will offer the Magic-Celtics
In addition to ABC's doubleheader, ESPN will air three Xmas games: the New York Knicks and offseason-acquisition Amar'e Stoudemire hosting the Bulls at noon; the Nuggets facing the Thunder at 8 p.m.; and a new-look Golden State Warriors, with the addition of David Lee joining last-season's rookie standout Stephen Curry, hosting Portland at 10:30 p.m.
The league also set its Martin Luther King Day slate for Jan. 17: NBA TV will feature the Sacramento Kings, led by 2009-10 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans against the Atlanta Hawks, with All-Stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford. For its part, TNT has a pair on tap: the Eastern Conference Finals rematch with the Magic visiting the Celtics at 8 p.m., and the Thunder rolling into the Lakers' lair at 10:30 p.m.
NBA.com will exclusively announce the full 2010-11 regular season schedule on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
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