Commentary

Schedule highlights: Duncan, Spurs open against Oden

Originally Published: August 2, 2007
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Kevin Garnett-to-Boston isn't a landscape-changing trade just yet. At this early stage, it's merely a schedule-changing trade.

The release of the NBA's 2007-08 calendar had been scheduled for Tuesday, only for the Celtics to complete one of the biggest trades in league history on the same day.

That required the league office to recall and revise its master list of games, mainly so the Celtics' number of national television appearances could be increased to a healthy 19. That's seven games on the ESPN family of networks, three on TNT and nine on NBA TV, after the Celts were featured zero times by ESPN and TNT last season.

You'll naturally find more than a few of Boston's returns to prominence sprinkled in among our annual summertime list of regular-season dates you need to immediately circle/punch into your electronic diary of choice.

Oct. 30: Portland at San Antonio (TNT)
Welcome to the NBA, kid. Greg Oden makes his debut against a certain Tim Duncan. Also on the schedule: Utah at Golden State in a playoff rematch and Houston at Kobe Bryant's (we think) Los Angeles Lakers on TNT.

Oct. 31: Happy Halloween
In a staggered opening to the season, there are only eight games on the second night, highlighted by Kevin Durant's Sonics at Denver and Dirk Nowitzki versus LeBron James for Dallas at Cleveland -- both on ESPN - as well as the Hornets' marking their full-time return to New Orleans by hosting Sacramento.

Nov. 1: TNT NBA Thursday
Ernie, Chuck and Kenny are actually working Tuesday, too, in Week 1, but the first doubleheader in their usual slot is a quality start: Detroit at Miami, followed by Phoenix at Durant's Sonics.

Nov. 2: Washington at Boston (ESPN)
The Celts and their new star trio have to wait until the fourth night of the season to play their opener. Yes: We're already worried about KG (and Bill Simmons) holding out that long.

Nov. 6: Denver at New York (NBA TV)
I honestly didn't expect to see the participants from last December's ugly fight night at Madison Square Garden get reunited so soon. Definitely didn't expect it to be a game featured on the league's own network, either. But it is.

Nov. 7: Phoenix at Atlanta
The Suns insist that they gave no serious consideration to parting with Amare Stoudemire in a multiteam trade for Kevin Garnett on draft night, but there's no denying that Amare and Joe Johnson were sufficiently convinced to discuss the possibility of a reunion in the ATL. Which means Amare's lone Atlanta visit of the season is going to generate some what-might-have-been chatter, like it or not.

Nov. 8: Dallas at Golden State (TNT)
Nowitzki and the Mavs won't have to wait long to see their old friends from Oaktown. It gets worse: Dallas has to see Don Nelson's Warriors four times in the regular season after only three meetings the previous season.

Nov. 9: Memphis at Portland
There's no truth to the rumor that the league didn't want Oden to play more than five games without seeing Mike Conley again. We swear.

Nov. 10: Phoenix at Orlando
Grant Hill makes an early return to Central Florida … and the undercard isn't bad, either: Amare versus Dwight Howard.

Nov. 12: Cleveland at Denver (NBA TV)
Aren't we still supposed to get excited when LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony duel?

Nov. 15: San Antonio at Dallas (TNT)
The first of four regular-season meetings between the Texas heavyweights.

Nov. 16: Utah at Cleveland
Aren't we still supposed to make a big deal about Carlos Boozer's coming back to Cavsland? On this same night, incidentally, Houston at San Antonio on ESPN means Spurs fans will finally get their first up-close look at Luis Scola, albeit in Rockets red.

Nov. 18: Golden State at Toronto
Wonder if this one will be shown live in Italia: Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli hook up for the first time on North American soil.

Nov. 23: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston
It's a tad premature to say that the preeminent rivalry in league history is all the way back, but Lakers-Celtics got a lot more interesting with KG -- the fantasy trade target of Lakers fans and management for years -- joining Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in green. (The teams meet on Dec. 30 in L.A.)

Nov. 24: Miami at Orlando
Two days after Thanksgiving, Stan Van Gundy gets home-court advantage in his first-ever grudge match with Pat Riley.

Nov. 26: Houston at Los Angeles Clippers
Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley come face-to-face for the first time since -- gasp -- Stevie chose Houston over Cat's Clips in free agency. On NBA TV, meanwhile, Phoenix will be getting up and down on the road with Golden State.

Nov. 28: Orlando at Seattle (NBA TV)
Rashard Lewis and his overstuffed wallet return to the Pacific Northwest. (The Sonics visit Orlando first on Nov. 13.)

Nov. 30: Los Angeles Lakers at Utah
It could be another emotional Derek Fisher night in Salt Lake City when Fish faces the Jazz as a visiting player for the first time since asking out of his contract to move to a city that could provide better treatment for his cancer-stricken daughter.

Dec. 1: Houston at Sacramento
Rick Adelman, fired by the Kings just as offensive-minded coaches were getting popular again, returns to Sactown with his new team.

Dec. 6: Miami at Portland (TNT)
The Diesel wasn't kidding when he warned Oden from the ESPYS stage, "See you soon, brother." Shaq arrives in Portland for the 19th game of Oden's rookie season. (The rematch is Jan. 18 in Miami on ESPN).

Dec. 17: Phoenix at San Antonio (NBA TV)
The first of four regular-season meetings between the teams that met in what was unofficially (but widely) considered the real NBA Finals.

Dec. 21: Memphis at Detroit
Getting through the first chunk of the season, when it plays eight of the first 10 games on the road, is Detroit's first concern. But when things begin to even out in December, this will get some attention in Motown: Darko Milicic in a new uniform with the Grizz.

Dec. 25: Merry Christmas on ABC/ESPN
The NBA will be dark on Thanksgiving for the second consecutive year, but how 'bout a snowy tripleheader to make up for it? Game 1: Heat at Cavs (ABC). Game 2: Suns at Lakers (ABC). Game 3: Sonics at Blazers in the first-ever Durant versus Oden showdown (ESPN).

Dec. 27: Boston at Seattle (TNT)
The Sonics are going to show up on this list more times than I would have ever imagined. This time it's because of Ray Allen's return.

Jan. 2: Chicago at Charlotte
As with Thanksgiving, there will also be no New Year's Day games in the NBA. Michael Jordan's new team hosting the Bulls, then, will be one of the first four games to tip off in 2008.

Jan. 16: Golden State at Indiana
Stephen Jackson is back in Indy ... with the teams meeting three nights earlier in Golden State to get a jump on the anticipation.

Jan 17: Cleveland at San Antonio (TNT)
NBA Finals rematch, anyone? If that doesn't get you geeked, don't forget that the Cavs swept the regular-season series last season before the Spurs broomed them away when it mattered. (The Spurs and Cavs meet again Feb. 13 in Cleveland.)

Jan. 27: ABC's Sunday schedule tips off
And with a very good doubleheader: Phoenix at Chicago, followed by LeBron's Cavs at Kobe's Lakers.

Feb. 1: New York at Portland (ESPN)
Zach Randolph returns to Portland, where I'm guessing he needn't expect the sort of warm reception Jason Richardson is bound to get when Charlotte goes to Golden State on the same night.

Feb. 2: Houston at Milwaukee (NBA TV)
Yao Ming -- and the Chinese media armada -- goes to Brewtown to square off with The Big Yi . . . assuming Yi Jianlian is a Buck by then. (On Nov. 9 the Bucks are in Houston, incidentally, if Yi makes it to Milwaukee for the start of the season.)

Feb. 8: Boston at Minnesota (ESPN)
The Wolves (or what's left of them) play 47 games before playing host to Garnett for the first time. Care to guesstimate how many games under .500 they will be at that point? (For the record, Boston hosts Minnesota on Jan. 25.)

Feb. 10: Denver at Cleveland (ABC)
Do we still get excited about Melo versus LeBron when it's on ABC? What about Kobe's Lakers at Shaq's Heat, well after their usual Christmas engagement?

Feb. 14: Happy Valentine's Day
Count on the standard offensive orgy -- in addition to the traditional Nowitzki/Nash hugfest -- when Dallas visits Phoenix on TNT in the final game before the All-Star break.

Feb. 21: Seattle at Portland (TNT)
This is also trade-deadline day, but a three-game schedule is highlighted by Durant versus Oden, Take II. Followed by Oden versus Durant in Seattle just 24 hours later.

Feb. 25: Washington at New Orleans
One for the gamers: NBA Live 2008 cover boy Gilbert Arenas duels NBA 2K8 face Chris Paul, with a rematch March 2 in Washington.

March 17: Boston at San Antonio
KG's first St. Patrick's Day as a Celtic pits him against his long-time nemesis TD.

March 19: Denver at Philadelphia
What kind of reception will Allen Iverson get as a visitor to Philly? What kind of recognition will Iverson get from the Sixers' organization? We'll finally find out, exactly 15 months to the day after Denver traded for him.

March 29: Phoenix at New Jersey
Chances are Nash and Jason Kidd won't be able to give us a double-overtime repeat of last December's 161-157 classic. But a boy can dream, right? (Yet I should note that this game again failed to make the national-TV list. Damn.)

April 1: Boston at Chicago (NBA TV)
The best offering from an eight-game April Fools' Day slate has to be KG's going back to his old high school turf.

April 9: Phoenix at San Antonio (ESPN)
Three nights after playing host to Dallas on ABC and two nights before going to Houston, the Suns visit San Antonio.

April 13: Dallas at Seattle
Assuming that Durant is not going to be getting his new team to the playoffs as a rook, this could be the Sonics' final game in Seattle. The ABC doubleheader on this Sunday, meanwhile, carries its own significance: Dwyane Wade's Heat at LeBron's Cavs, followed by Spurs at Lakers.

April 16: Regular season ends
All but two teams are playing on the final night of the schedule. Since we're about nine months away from being able to tell you which games will carry the greatest importance in terms of playoff implications, we'll simply note that there are two conference-final rematches scheduled: Detroit at Cleveland and Utah at San Antonio on ESPN.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics