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Familiar faces in new places, stellar Christmas Day slate highlight 2016-17 schedule

Durant makes his return to Oklahoma City on Feb. 11 while Cavs visit Warriors in nine-game Martin Luther King Day lineup

POSTED: Aug 12, 2016 10:44 AM ET

By Sekou Smith

BY Sekou Smith


The Christmas Day slate is highlighted by a Finals rematch between the Cavaliers and the Warriors.

Rivalries, old and perhaps new, the debut of several familiar faces (Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Al Horford and many more) in new places and the unveiling of the No. 1 overall pick in June's NBA Draft highlight the first nights of the 2016-17 NBA schedule, the full version of which was released Wednesday.


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The spectacular five-game Christmas Day slate is highlighted by a Finals rematch between the LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers hosting the new-look Golden State Warriors featuring four All-Stars in reigning Kia MVP Stephen Curry, 2014 Kia MVP Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks kick things off on Christmas at Madison Square Garden. The Cavaliers and Warriors square off next with Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls in San Antonio to battle the Spurs. The upstart Minnesota Timberwolves travel to Oklahoma City to face Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in the third game and the Lakers and Clippers renew their city rivalry at the Staples Center to wrap up a busy day.

The Cavaliers' lone regular-season trip to Oakland to face the Warriors and a nightcap between the Thunder and the Clippers in Los Angeles (both on TNT) highlight the nine-game Martin Luther King Day lineup, that also features Dwight Howard and the Atlanta Hawks visiting the Knicks and Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans visiting Paul George and the revamped Indiana Pacers.

The schedule also features a week-long All-Star break for the third straight year.

The season tips off on Oct. 25 with a TNT doubleheader featuring some the league's biggest stars. In the opener, the defending champion Cavaliers host the Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and the Knicks, who will get to witness the Cavaliers' banner-raising and ring ceremony. The second half of that doubleheader features Durant's Warriors debut against the San Antonio Spurs in their first season opener in nearly two decades without Tim Duncan, who retired over the summer, on the roster.

NBA Schedule Release Special: Christmas Day Games

Jared Greenberg and Kristen Ledlow highlight all of the Christmas Day action for the upcoming season.

The Portland Trail Blazers also host the Utah Jazz in the third game on opening night.

The first week of the season continues with intriguing matchups to kick off an Oct. 26 ESPN doubleheader. Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in the June NBA Draft, makes his debut at home against the Thunder. The second game marks the Los Angeles Lakers' first season opener since 1995 without Kobe Bryant, when they host the James Harden and the Houston Rockets.

Wade's first game in a Bulls uniform and a playoff rematch between the Clippers and Trail Blazers kicks off TNT's Thursday night coverage Oct. 27. Wade and the Bulls host the Boston Celtics in the opener and Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum welcome Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to Portland in the second game.

Durant's first game against Westbrook and the Thunder team he left in free agency is Nov. 3 at Oracle Arena. Durant's first trip back to his old stomping grounds doesn't come until Feb. 11.

NBA Schedule Release Special

Jared Greenberg and Kristen Ledlow highlight some of the NBA's key games to start the season.

The schedule also includes a full 15 games (all 30 teams in action) Nov. 25, the Friday after Thanksgiving.

For the second straight season, stretches including four games in five nights and back-to-back games have been reduced to all-time lows.

• Four-in-fives have been reduced by 71 percent from 2014-15 and 26 percent from last season. (0.7 per team -- 20 total) which is down from 2.3 per team (70 total) in 2014-15 and 0.9 per team last season (27 total).
• No team will have more than one four-in-five this season, whereas the max was four in 2014-15 and two last season.
• Back-to-backs have been cut to 16.3 per team, a 16 percent reduction from 19.3 per team in 2014-15 and an 8 percent reduction from 17.8 per team last season.
• The range of back-to-back games has been reduced and condensed to 14-18 per team, which is down from 16-22 in 2014-15 and 14-20 last season.

The schedule will once again take teams beyond its usual borders with the NBA Global Games. On Jan. 12 in London the the Pacers and Denver Nuggets will square off, while the Phoenix Suns will face Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in Mexico City. The Suns will play again two days later in Mexico City against the Spurs, marking the first consecutive regular-season games in Mexico.

ABC will feature Saturday Primetime coverage for the second straight season, a nine-game slate that kicks off with a Jan. 21 showdown that will see the Spurs visit the Cavaliers.

A new feature this season is TNT's slate of Monday night games, 10 doubleheaders. The series kicks off on Martin Luther King Day with the Hawks visiting the Knicks and the Pelicans visiting the Pacers.

ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV will all present flexible scheduling throughout the regular season in order to provide the most compelling matchups to a national audience.

ESPN and ABC will televise 100 games and TNT 64.

NBA TV's regular season coverage tips off on Oct. 29 featuring the Pelicans at the Spurs followed by Minnesota at Sacramento.

The regular season concludes on April 12 and the 2017 NBA playoffs will begin April 15.

Sekou Smith is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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