NEW YORK, Aug. 8
-- This season, the NBA will stage 1,230 regular season games across this land and Canada. And while we want you to watch every NBA in game at the arena or on that magical device we call a television, we've selected some that should pique everyone's interest in a season that sees Phil Jackson return to the sidelines in Los Angeles, Larry Brown coming home to coach the Knicks and the Spurs try to defend their third NBA title.
Tuesday, Nov. 1: Opening Night Doubleheader on TNT
Denver at San Antonio (8 p.m. ET) and Dallas at Phoenix (10:30 p.m. ET)
The defending champion Spurs help tipoff the season on TNT against a Nuggets team they vanquished in five games of the Western Conference First Round. That, and Commissioner David Stern will be on hand in the Alamo City to hand the Spurs their third set of championship rings in seven seasons.
A Finals rematch on Christmas Day is one of the highlights of the 2005-06 schedule.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Game No. 3 of the 1230 to be staged in 2005-06 and the second of TNT's opening night doubleheader, features the high powered offenses of the Mavericks and the Suns. The teams combined to each average better than 114 points per game in last year's six-game Western Conference Semifinals. Questions surround the Suns offense, which has lost the scoring touch of Quentin Richardson during the offseason. Kurt Thomas makes his debut in a different shade of orange.
Thursday, Nov. 3: Indiana at Miami (8 p.m. ET, TNT)
Two of the Eastern Conference's best meet for what could be an East Finals preview. That, and we'd like to see Ron Artest try to lock down Dwyane Wade.
Thursday, Nov. 3: Phoenix at L.A. Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
Jack and the rest of Laker Nation won't have to wait long to see Phil Jackson reigning supreme over the triangle offense, as Jackson makes his first return to the sidelines of the Staples Center since the 2004 Finals. Jackson has often been pegged as a coach who leads a cast of talented players to Championships, rather than guiding a team through the rebuilding stages. Here's the chance for Jackson to show his coaching skills on a team that missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994.
Saturday, Nov. 19: Phoenix at San Antonio (8:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
The two 2005 Western Conference finalists meet for the first time in the 2005-06 season. The supposedly sedate-on-offense Spurs dropped 108.2 points per game on the heads of the high-flying suns in taking the West Finals in five games.
Tuesday, Nov. 29: L.A. Lakers at San Antonio (8:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
The last time a Phil Jackson coached team played in San Antonio, Derek Fisher nailed a turnaround jumper with 0.4 seconds left to give the Lakers an improbable 74-73 win over the Spurs in the 2004 Western Conference semis. Fisher no longer wears the Lakers' purple and gold, but Jackson's back as Los Angeles makes its first foray of the season into the defending champs' house.
Friday, Dec. 2: New York at Detroit (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Destined to be greeted by more boo birds than even Ron Artest, Larry Brown makes his first return to the city he guided to two straight NBA Finals appearances. Who's to blame behind Brown's departure from Detroit is irrelevant when these two teams get together; the focus will be on the standings. Critics will grade new coach Flip Saunders on whether he can keep pace with the Larry Brown-era Pistons. Likewise, Brown will be judged by the turnaround job he does with the Knicks.
Saturday, Dec. 3: Orlando at Milwaukee (7:30 p.m. ET)
The last two top overall Draft picks go head to head for the first time. Dwight Howard jumped straight from high school to Orlando, where he was one of only two rookies to average a double-double last season. Bogut spent two seasons at the University of Utah, where, as a sophomore, he cleaned house on the various player of the year awards.
Sunday, Dec. 25: Christmas Doubleheader on ABC
San Antonio at Detroit (12:30 p.m.) and L.A. Lakers at Miami (3 p.m. ET)
It took a full seven games to determine which team was the best in the Finals last June. The Spurs return the full compliment of players which won the 2005 Championship. As for the Pistons, the players remain the same but Gregg Popovich's long-time pal won't be roaming the Palace's sidelines for Detroit.
Meanwhile, last Christmas, Shaq drove an 18-wheeler into L.A. and handed out toys to young children. Then he handed Kobe Bryant and the Lakers a stocking full of coal in overtime. Round two between the one-time teammates turned adversaries gets underway at 3pm this year. And, oh yeah, Phil Jackson gets back in the fray.
Monday, Jan. 30: Portland at Seattle (10 p.m. ET)
Nate McMillan has known only one franchise since he was was selected in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft: The Seattle SuperSonics. That's about to change as McMillan accepted the head coaching vacancy in Portland this summer. "Mr. Sonic" makes his return to the only NBA city he's ever called home, where his No. 10 jersey hangs in the rafters.
Thursday, Feb. 23: Indiana at Detroit (8 p.m. ET, TNT)
Even with a fairly uneventful six game series between the two clubs, you know the images of that ill-fated November night in Detroit last season will fill your television set. Why? Because everybody wants to know if Ben Wallace and Ron Artest can share the same 94-by-50 chunk of real estate ... Not to mention how the Detroit fans will welcome back Artest.
Wednesday, Mar. 1: Miami at Boston (7:30 p.m. ET)
In his second stint wearing No. 8 for the Celtics, Antoine Walker played roughly three months and provided the boost the team needed to capture the Atlantic Division and the No. 3 seed in last year's playoffs. After Walker was dealt from the Hawks at the trading deadline in late February, the team went on to win 11 of the next 12 games and never looked back. On Tuesday, Walker was again on the move, this time in the largest trade in NBA history.
Tuesday, Mar. 28: Atlanta at Charlotte (7:30 p.m. ET)
The outcome of this contest is unlikely to determine playoff seeding, but it's a chance for Marvin Williams to get back on the court with his North Carolina teammates in a game slightly more meaningful than their two mid-October exhibition contests. Also of interest is the race for got milk? Rookie of the Year, where all three former Tar Heels figiure to be in the discussion.