The league released its schedule, featuring a lengthened All-Star break, on Wednesday night during an NBA TV special, with James‘ return to his original NBA team putting the Cavaliers in a number of prime positions.
That includes the game at Miami in the third spot on the five-game Christmas schedule, traditionally a highlight of the NBA season. James led the Heat to two championships and four NBA Finals appearances in four years before deciding to return to his native Ohio.
The other Christmas day games are: Washington at New York; Oklahoma City at San Antonio in a rematch of the Western Conference finals; the Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago; and Golden State at the Los Angeles Clippers.
The nightcap is a rematch of a testy Christmas night matchup from last season that featured multiple ejections. The Clippers then went on to beat the Warriors in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.
The last game before the All-Star break in New York is Feb. 12, when the Cavaliers visit the Bulls. The regular season doesn’t resume until the following Thursday, two days later than usual, with a doubleheader on TNT.
The three-game opening night closes with Houston visiting the Lakers, which should feature Kobe Bryant’s return from an injury-shortened 2013-14 season. Derrick Rose’s first regular-season action since season-ending knee surgery early last season should come the next night, when Chicago visits the Knicks on the first full night of action.
Other items of note:
—A 12-game Martin Luther King Jr. Day, four televised nationally, is highlighted by another Cleveland-Chicago matchup.
—If a Kevin Love trade to Cleveland is completed, his return to Minnesota would be Jan. 31.
—Jason Kidd’s first visit to Brooklyn since leaving the Nets to coach Milwaukee is Nov. 19.