NBA schedule released, some big games on the front end

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Would you look at that, a full 82 game schedule. Haven’t seen one of those in a while. Kind of missed it.

The NBA released the full season schedule on Thursday and clearly they had some marketing in mind. Some fans liked the big splash when the league opened on Christmas Day last year after the lockout, so the NBA put some splash up front to try and appease them. It can be hard for the NBA to make a dent in October and November, when the NFL and college football are in full swing, but they certainly are trying.

The games kick off Oct. 30 with one highlight matchup. Here are some schedule highlights at first glance.

Oct. 30 (opening night):
Wizards at Cavaliers (John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving)
Celtics at Heat
Mavericks at Lakers

The highlight of that schedule is Celtics at Heat — Boston has to go into Miami and watch them raise a banner and get their rings. Then they have to play against Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett is fired up for that game today. After that we get to see Steve Nash against one of the teams he spurned this summer.

Oct. 31
Spurs at Hornets

No. 1 pick Anthony Davis makes his NBA debut against Tim Duncan. Not a bad career trajectory if you are looking to follow one.

Nov. 1
Knicks at Nets
Thunder at Spurs

We told you about this one before, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks take the 2 line/Seventh Avenue Express over to Brooklyn to help the Deron Williams and the Nets open the new Barclays Center. (Sure, Amare Stoudemire would take the subway to a game, why not?) Biggest question, what’s the ration of Nets to Knicks fans for this one? About 70/30?

Dec. 17
Rockets at Knicks

Jeremy Lin returns to New York.

Dec. 25 (Christmas)
Celtics at Nets
Knicks at Lakers
Thunder at Heat
Rockets at Bulls
Nuggets at Clippers

Obviously the finals rematch is the marquee game and the Knicks vs. Lakers will be fun (Knicks fans can get Nash envy). But the real sleeper on that card is Nuggets at Clippers, which should be entertaining. Staples Center double-header that day.

Jan. 30
Lakers at Suns

Steve Nash returns to Phoenix. I think most Suns fans were at peace with him leaving to chase a ring — until he went to the hated Lakers. Interesting to see how they great him.

March 18
Miami at Boston

Ray Allen will hear a new sound from his beloved Celtics fans at this game.

Other notes from a first glance at the schedule:

• The Brooklyn Nets open the Barclays Center with six of eight games at home.

• Joe Johnson returns to Atlanta on Jan. 16. No bad blood there, though, even Hawks fans wanted to get rid of his contract.

• Speaking of returns, Jason Terry returns to Dallas March 22. Again, no real bad blood there.

• Soft start for the Clippers, who have 7 of first 9 at home and one “away” game against the Lakers. They will pay for that later when the Grammys kick them out of town for a couple weeks.

• The Lakers visit the Celtics Feb. 7, and Boston comes out to L.A. a couple weeks later on Feb. 20.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.

Report: Other small-market teams championing Pacers’ tampering allegation against Lakers

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The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR

In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”

Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.

The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.

I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.