09-10 Schedule Tips for the Upcoming Season

On Tuesday afternoon, the NBA released its 2009-10 schedule and, as always, the Cavaliers have been given some of the marquee matchups. Cavs.com offers you 09-10 things to watch for when the campaigns tips off in late-October.

1. The Cavaliers schedule was brutal to start last season, as three of the first four clubs the Wine and Gold faced had a combined 173 wins the previous season. This year, it’s not the competition that’s tough, but Cleveland does play four games in the first five nights of the campaign – including trips to Toronto and Minnesota. It doesn’t get much better when the calendar turns to November, where the Cavs will have five back-to-backs in the month.

2. As tough as the back-to-back schedule is to start the season, the Cavaliers will get a break on the back end of the schedule. The Cavaliers average age is only 27.3 years old, but their center combination is 37 and 34, respectively. Cleveland has a back-to-back at the start of January and not another one until after the All-Star Break. Among 17 back-to-backs on the schedule, they only have one (4/8 at CHI, 4/9 vs. Indiana) in the final month of the season. Last year, Cleveland was a league-best 16-3 on the second night of a back-to-back.

3. As long as the Cavaliers have LeBron James and the Lakers have Kobe Bryant, it’s almost certain that these two clubs will play Christmas Day games. And when Cleveland acquired Shaquille O’Neal, it was a lock that the two teams would face each other. The Cavaliers will play their tenth Christmas Day game in franchise history, and third straight. (They topped the Wizards, 93-89, last year.) This season, they’ll be on the Left Coast for Christmas – their first ever Yuletide battle against the Lakers.

4. For the second straight season, the Cavaliers will open the season with the Boston Celtics. Entering last year as the defending NBA Champs, Boston handed Cleveland a 90-85 loss to start the season. This year, the Celtics will come to The Q to tip off the 2009-10 season, and they’ll be bringing a North Coast favorite – Rasheed Wallace – with them. For the second straight year, the Cavaliers will also face off against Boston on Easter Sunday in Cleveland.

5. March must be Motown Month for the Cavaliers as they face their old nemesis – the Detroit Pistons – three times in 16 days. Although their initial meeting is November 25 at the Palace, Cleveland will face the new-look Pistons thrice in the month of March. Gone are Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and the aforementioned Wallace. The new-and-(possibly)-improved Pistons are led by recent free agent signings, Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, and coached by former Cavalier assistant, John Kuester.

6. Unless they’re willing to trek out to the Meadowlands, the rabid New York media will get only one crack at LeBron James in New York. (And that’s seven games into the season.) The annual three-ring media circus is usually overshadowed by No. 23 turning in another great performance at the World’s Most Famous Arena. Last year, in between warding off pre- and post-game scribes – the young King was one rebound shy of turning in a 50-point triple-double (52 points, 11 assists, nine boards) at the Garden on February 4.

7. The Cavaliers will have two prolonged Western Conference trips this season, but neither seems extremely difficult. The first is a four-gamer in late December that culminates with the Christmas Day game in L.A. Before taking on the Champs, Cleveland faces Dallas, Phoenix and Sacramento. On January 8, the Wine and Gold hit the road for five matchups – at Denver, Portland, Golden State, Utah and the Clippers. Among the nine games, there is only one back-to-back. Last season, the Cavaliers were a franchise-record 26-4 against the Western Conference.

8. For the first time in three years, the Cavaliers will not be playing the Orlando Magic on St. Patrick’s Day. (From the Dept. of Useless Information, they’re 13-7 on the Irish holiday.) But they will face the Magic – who topped the Cavaliers to take the Eastern Conference crown – on four occasions this season. The Diesel and Dwight Howard will battle for Superman superiority early – on November 11 in Central Florida – and late – in the regular season home finale on April 11. The newly-minted rivals also face off twice in ten days during February.

9. Ordinarily, it might prove difficult to fit Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones’ egos in one building, but we’re talking about a building that’s capable of seating over 100,000 people. Of course, that refers to the 59th annual NBA All-Star Game to be held at the new $1 billion state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The event, to be held on Valentine’s Day, is the first time Dallas has hosted since 1986, and the Texas throng should easily surpass the Game's previous attendance record of 44.735 set at the Houston Astrodome in 1989. As a youngster, LeBron James wanted to play on the Cowboys field. In February, he’ll get his chance.

10. Of course, Quicken Loans Arena will play host to some of the league’s most interesting visitors. Carlos Boozer could roll in with the Jazz on November 14 (or maybe it’ll be November 5 with Chicago or February 4 with Miami). Kobe and the LakeShow come to C-Town on January 21 and CP-3 brings the Hornets to town on February 23. The reloaded San Antonio Spurs make their way to Cleveland on March 8 and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 Draft – Blake Griffin – makes his local debut on January 31.