10 Tips for the 2013-14 Schedule
On Tuesday evening, the NBA released the 2013-14 schedule. The Wine and Gold have some interesting dates and opponents in the coming months – welcoming some familiar and famous foes to the corner of Huron and Ontario.
With a look ahead to the final days of October and the season opener, here’s a breakdown of 10 tips for enjoying the upcoming campaign as it all unfolds …
1. Brooklyn Bookends – The Cavaliers were a busy franchise during this past offseason – making a coaching change, selecting a pair of first-rounders and inking some big-name free agents. But no team in the East underwent a facelift as drastic as the Nets. After being eliminated by the Bulls in the postseason, Brooklyn hired Jason Kidd as their head coach and dealt for a pair of Celtic icons – Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (as well as Jason Terry). The Nets are now looked at as the team to challenge Miami’s Eastern Conference superiority, and they tip off their quest with an opening night affair against the Cavaliers.
Since opening in Sacramento in two straight seasons (2002-03, ’03-04), the Wine and Gold have only opened on the road one time (Boston, 2008-09). As a franchise, the Cavs haven’t had a lot of success to the start the season – going 12-31 on opening night.
The Cavaliers also close the 2013-14 campaign against the Nets on April 16.
2. Old Faces, New Places – It’ll be interesting to see the aforementioned former Celtics in Brooklyn’s black-and-whites, but it’s not the only chance Cavs fans will get to see some famous foes in new uniforms. The Pistons bagged a big free agent – Josh Smith – over the summer, traded for electric guard Brandon Jennings and will have Maurice Cheeks at the helm. The Cavs face the new-look Pistons for the first time on December 23 and travel to the Palace on February 12, the last game before the All-Star Break. Detroit returns on April 9, after a March 26 meeting in Motown.
When the Knicks roll into town on Tuesday, December 10, they’ll have newly-acquired big man, Andrea Bargnani – a Cav-Killer during his days in Toronto – as well as Metta World Peace. The Cavaliers travel to New York for a nationally-televised affair (TNT) on January 30 and will face Carmelo and Co. on NBA TV on March 8 at The Q. The biggest catch of this offseason’s free agent market, Dwight Howard, comes to town with the new-and-improved Rockets on March 22.
Some familiar faces making their return to The Q this season include Denver’s J.J. Hickson (Dec. 4), Houston’s Omri Casspi (March 22), Indiana’s Donald Sloan (Jan. 5, March 30), Brooklyn’s Shaun Livingston (Oct. 30, April 16), Dallas’ Wayne Ellington (Jan. 20) and Golden State’s Mo Speights (Dec. 29). Former Cavs assistant, Mike Malone, brings his Sacramento Kings to Cleveland on Feb. 11.
3. Heat Check – Of course, the most famous of all former familiar faces – LeBron James – will make a pair of stops at the arena he used to call home. James and the two-time NBA Champion Heat will make their first appearance before a packed arena and a national television audience as ESPN broadcasts the Nov. 27 matchup at The Q. It’s the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, so the normally frenetic throng will be a little extra amped-up before the four-day weekend.
Miami returns to Cleveland on March 18. That’s the day after St. Patrick’s Day, but a partially hungover crowd will still be ready to rumble for the Champ’s return. The Cavs make only one trip to South Beach this season – a Dec. 14 matchup, the second night of a Sunshine State back-to-back.
4. Marquee Attractions – The four-time league MVP is just one of the big names that roll into Quicken Loans Arena this year.
Fans at The Q will (hopefully) also get a look at former MVP Derrick Rose on Nov. 30 and in an ESPN-televised affair on January 22. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s Thunder come to Cleveland for a March 20 meeting. (If it’s as good as last year’s 115-110 thriller, fans will leave very happy.) If Kobe Bryant is healthy, he’ll join the Lakers when they face the Cavs at The Q on Feb. 5. Tim Duncan and the Western Conference Champion Spurs visit the North Coast on March 4 and Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks roll in on Jan. 20. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul’s high-octane Clippers come to town on Dec. 7.
5. Bright Lights, Big Stage – We’ve already highlighted some of Cleveland’s nationally-televised contests this year. And all told, the Wine and Gold will make nine appearances on the national stage.
The Cavs will appear on NBA TV five times, beginning with the home opener on Oct. 30. Other NBA TV games include a Dec. 21 meeting with the Bulls in Chicago, a January 12 stop in Sacramento, a March 8 meeting at The Q against the Knicks and a March 16 matchup against the Clippers in Tinseltown.
Cleveland makes three ESPN appearances this year – the Nov. 27 tilt against the Champs in Cleveland, a Jan. 22 contest against Chicago at The Q and a Feb. 7 battle against John Wall and the Wizards in Washington. The Wine and Gold’s only TNT game is a January 30 meeting with the Knicks at the Garden.
6. Run for the Border – The Cavs and Raptors have never forged any sort of rivalry, but the Canadian media will greet the Wine and Gold in droves when Cleveland makes its only trip to the Air Canada Center on Feb. 21.
Of course, the big attraction is that two of the Cavaliers top players are from the Toronto area – Tristan Thompson and this June’s top overall pick, Anthony Bennett. Thompson is routinely mobbed by the media when he returns; the addition of Bennett will make the Cavs PR staff’s jobs twice as tough. Luckily, the two young stars are as affable and cooperative as the Canadian scribes who covered them.
Thompson and Bennett (along with former Texas standout, Myck Kabongo, and incoming Kansas freshman, Andrew Wiggins) are part of basketball’s recent Canadian Invasion.
7. Go West, Young Men – Recently, the NBA schedule-makers had been shipping the Wine and Gold out west early in the season. But this year, the trips are lighter, later and more spread out.
The Cavs first foray west of the Mississippi comes after the holiday season – a five-game trip beginning with a January 10 stop in Salt Lake City. Cleveland travels to Sacramento for a Sunday afternoon affair on January 12, face the Lakers on the 14th, the Blazers in Portland the following night and wrap up the roadie – as they always seem to – with a Friday night matchup in the Mile High City on Jan. 17.
They return to the West Coast well into the season’s second half – facing Phoenix on March 12, the Warriors on Friday the 14th before closing out their Western Conference road games against the Clippers in L.A. on the 16th.
The Cavaliers won’t be bopping out of time zones on their two trips out West and, maybe more importantly, have only one back-to-back in both trips combined.
8. Get Back – Back-to-backs are a fact of life in the NBA, but they can be especially challenging for young teams with players who simply aren’t used to the rigors of an 82-game schedule.
This year, the Wine and Gold will play 20 sets of back-to-backs, including a pair of the dreaded four-games-in-five-nights. One particularly difficult stretch comes at the end of February, when Cleveland plays Toronto on Feb. 25, travels to Oklahoma City the following night, returns home for a night off before facing Utah at The Q on the 28th and the Grizzlies at the Grindhouse the next night.
Cleveland will play five back-to-backs in the first month of the season and only two in both January and April.
9. Afternoon Delight – Afternoon games are an anomaly in the NBA, but this season the Cavaliers will be featured in five matinees.
Two of those afternoon games are on holidays. Cleveland faces off against the divisional rival Pacers on New Year’s Eve – Tuesday, December 31 – at 3 p.m. in Indianapolis. The Cavaliers will welcome Dallas to town for an MLK Day meeting with the Mavericks at 1 p.m.
Before both games, the Cavs play the Celtics at 1 p.m. in Boston on Dec. 28. Their Jan. 12 meeting with the Kings in Sacramento will tip-off at 3 p.m. PST and, in the season’s second half, they welcome the Pacers to The Q for a Sunday afternoon affair (3 pm) on March 30.
10. Gimme a Break – The Cavaliers head into, and come out of, the All-Star break with back-to-back matchups – going into the season’s unofficial first half with the Kings and Pistons (in Detroit) on consecutive nights. The 2014 All-Star Game returns to New Orleans – which hosted the mid-season classic as recently as 2008 – and will take place on February 16.
Immediately after the Break, the Cavaliers travel to Philadelphia on February 18 before welcoming Victor Oladipo and the Magic to Cleveland the following night.