LeBron James’ first trip back to Miami as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and a rematch of the Western Conference Finals highlight a five-game NBA Christmas schedule, as the league revealed its national television matchups on Wednesday.
TNT tips off its season on opening night, Oct. 28, with a Texas-flavored doubleheader of Dallas at San Antonio (and the Spurs raising their latest championship banner) followed by Houston at the Los Angeles Lakers in what figures to be Kobe Bryant’s return. ESPN gets its first shot the next night with its own pair of games: Chicago at New York and Oklahoma City at Portland.
ABC begins its coverage on Christmas Day with a big doubleheader, kicking off with the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs in the West Finals rematch at 2:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers — and James — traveling to Miami to take on the Heat at 5 ET.
There are three other Christmas Day games, starting with Washington-New York on ESPN at noon ET. And then TNT follows ABC’s doubleheader with its own: Lakers-Chicago and Golden State at the Los Angeles Clippers.
A few other highlights:
*The two games between last season’s NBA Finals participants, the Heat and Spurs, will be televised nationally. The game at San Antonio will air Feb. 6 on ESPN and the one at Miami will be shown by TNT on March 31.
*ABC and ESPN will combine to televise 90 regular-season NBA games, with the Kevin Durant-led Thunder appearing most often (16 times).
*Including games on NBATV, the Thunder and the Clippers are the most televised team overall with 32 appearances. They’re followed by the Chicago Bulls (30), Cleveland Cavaliers (29) and Lakers (28). A trio of teams — the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks — will appear only twice (and all on NBA TV).
*The Lakers will travel to New York to take on the Knicks in the annual before-the-Super Bowl game on Feb. 1 (ESPN).
*Former Laker Paul Gasol’s return to Los Angeles as a member of the Chicago Bulls will be televised by TNT on Jan. 29.
*TNT will televise NBA All-Star 2015 festivities in New York City Feb. 13-15, culminating with the NBA’s 64th All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 15. The league is experimenting with a longer All-Star break this year, with every team off eight or nine days.