Ten Tips for the 2014-15 Cavaliers Schedule

David Liam Kyle/NBAE/GettyImages
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

On Wednesday afternoon, the NBA released the 2104-15 schedule and the new-look 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 from the preseason opener against Maccabi Tel Aviv to Fan Appreciation Night against Washington on April 15, here’s a breakdown of 10 tips for enjoying the upcoming campaign as it all unfolds …

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1. Dress Rehearsal – The Cavaliers come into the campaign as arguably the most compelling team in the Eastern Conference. And that means things will get interesting even before the regular season tips off on October 30.

This season will be like none other in Cavs history, and that also goes for their preseason docket – which features only the NBA’s second game ever in South America, a visit by David Blatt’s old squad and a circuitous schedule to wrap up the exhibition season.

The seven-game slate begins with a visit by Maccabi Tel Aviv, the squad that new head coach David Blatt guided to Israeli Cup and Euroleague Championship. In his six seasons with Maccabi, his team won six Israeli League Championships and finished a combined 225-55 over his last four years.

Less than a week later, the Wine and Gold embark for Brazil, where they’ll face off against the Miami Heat in Rio de Janeiro on October 11.

The Cavs return to take on the Milwaukee Bucks on October 14, then travel to Cincinnati the next night to face the Pacers. They take on Dallas when they return to The Q two nights later and get right back on Interstate 71 to play the Bulls in Columbus before wrapping the preseason up on October 22 against the Grizzlies in Memphis.

2. The Curtain Goes Up – It’s difficult to even imagine what Quicken Loans Arena – as well as the entire city – will be like when the Knicks roll in for the home opener on October 30. From the ovation Charles Barkley is likely to receive pregame to player intros to the actual game, it’s bound to be an evening unrivaled in local history.

Since opening in Sacramento in two straight seasons (2002-03, and again in ’03-04, in LeBron’s NBA debut), 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 13-31 on opening night.

Following the home opener, the Cavs hit the road for four straight.

The game also features a rivalry between friends and competitors that’s been raging since LeBron and Carmelo Anthony were drafted 1-2 in 2003. Heading into the opener, Carmelo has an 11-10 regular season advantage over LBJ. (Although James has a 4-1 lead over Anthony in postseason play.)

3. Matinee Idols – The Cavaliers will play seven daytime games this season, beginning with a December 21 matchup with Memphis at The Q, part of a five-game homestand.

The next three afternoon games – vs. Detroit (Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m.), vs. Dallas (Jan. 4, 1:00 p.m.) and vs. Oklahoma City (Jan. 25, 3:30 p.m.) – all take place at The Q. The Cavs face the Lakers in L.A. on Feb. 8 at 3:30 p.m. and play two more day games the rest of the way: March 29 vs. Philadelphia (1:00 p.m.) and Easter Sunday, April 5 vs. the Bulls (3:30 p.m.)

4. The New York Groove – For years, and for the actual All-Stars, the All-Star break has been a misnomer – players leave the Weekend spent after the non-stop league activities. This year, teams will get an extended, eight-day break between games surrounding the mid-season classic.

This year’s All-Star Weekend will take place in New York – with Friday and Saturday’s events being held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Sunday’s main event at Madison Square Garden, where Kyrie Irving will look to earn his second straight All-Star Game MVP.

The Cavaliers bookend the Break with games against the Bulls and Wizards – with the Washington game tipping off a four-game road trip.

5. Marquee Matchups – The Cavaliers now have some of the biggest names in the sport, so they’ll definitely be a big draw on the road. But fans can also look forward to some of the league’s biggest stars coming to Cleveland.

Of course, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks open the season. Once we get rolling, the World Champion Spurs come to The Q on November 19. Lance Stephenson and his Hornets blow into town on December 15; Dirk and the Mavericks come to Cleveland on January 4, with Dwight Howard and James Harden on the home docket three nights later. The reigning MVP, Kevin Durant, brings the Thunder to town for an MLK Day matchup on January 25.

Some big names also arrive in February – with both L.A. teams hitting town within three days. On February 5, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the Clippers take on the Cavs and on February 8, it’s the Black Mamba and his Lakers. LeBron’s former mates – including Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – come to town on February 11. On February 26, the Wine and Gold welcome Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the high-octane Warriors to The Q.

6. Travelin’ Men – Although their longest road trip of the season is only five games, the Cavaliers will have some tough road stretches this season.

David Blatt’s squad will play 10 of 14 games on the road from Christmas through January 16, a stretch almost as difficult as the one in March – where the MAC Tourney and the NCAA’s Sweet 16 will keep them on the road in 12 of 15 games ranging from February 12 to March 16.

In that five-game roadie, the Cavs will travel to face Golden State, Sacramento, Phoenix and – in an unusual twist – play the Lakers and Clippers on back-to-back nights at the Staples Center.

7. Tough times – Just because the Cavaliers will spend the schedule in the limelight doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.

Cleveland will play 21 sets of back-to-backs this year – including seven home-away sets, seven away-home sets and seven away-away sets. The Cavs will also play three games in four nights on 16 occasions.

8. Maximum Exposure – The Cavaliers will get plenty of exposure in 2014-15, with 29 nationally-televised contests on the schedule this season.

The Cavs will have 10 games on TNT: (Oct. 30 vs. New York, Dec. 4 at New York, Dec. 11 at Oklahoma City, Jan. 15 at L.A. Lakers, Jan. 19 vs. Chicago, Feb. 5 vs. L.A. Clippers, Feb. 12 at Chicago, Feb. 26 vs. Golden State, March 12 at San Antonio and April 2 vs. Miami), 10 games on ESPN: (Oct. 30 vs. New York, Dec. 4 at New York, Dec. 11 at Oklahoma City, Jan. 15 at L.A. Lakers, Jan. 19 vs. Chicago, Feb. 5 vs. L.A. Clippers, Feb. 12 at Chicago, Feb. 26 vs. Golden State, March 12 at San Antonio and April 2 vs. Miami), five games on ABC (Dec. 25 at Miami, Jan. 25 vs. Oklahoma City, Feb. 8 vs. L.A. Lakers, Feb. 22 at New York and April 5 vs. Chicago) and four games on NBA TV (Nov. 17 vs. Denver, Dec. 15 vs. Charlotte, March 1 at Houston and March 7 vs. Phoenix).

9. Happy Holidays – Once LeBron James agreed to return to Cleveland – having the holidays off became a Ghost of Christmas Past. The Cavaliers will play for the 11th time on Christmas Day, as they travel to Miami – (speaking of Ghosts from the Past) – to take on the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. On New Year's Eve, the Cavaliers welcome the Bucks to town for a 7:00 p.m. game. They’ll face off against Kevin Durant and the Thunder on Martin Luther King Day at The Q. And on Easter Sunday, the Cavs welcome Joakim Noah and the Bulls to Cleveland for an afternoon matchup.

10. Home Cookin’ – As difficult as the Cavaliers road schedule is in early December and in the months of January and February, they have a favorable home slate in early November, late January and to end the season.

From November 10 through December 2, the Wine and Gold play nine of 11 in the cozy confines of The Q. From January 19 through February 11, they play 10 of 13 at home and the Cavaliers close the campaign with six of their last eight games in Cleveland.