The regular season schedule for the 2013-14 NBA season is expected to be released in its entirety next week, but since preliminary versions get sent out to the league’s broadcast partners in advance, we always seem to get word of some of the marquee matchups before everything is finalized.
This year is no different, as we appear to have been tipped off of two of the defending champion Miami Heat’s more interesting dates on the calendar.
According to the preliminary schedule, which is subject to revision, the Heat will open their second consecutive championship defense on Tuesday Oct. 29 at AmericanAirlines Arena against the Bulls.
According to the all-but-finalized draft of the 2013-14 NBA schedule, the Sun Sentinel also has learned that the Heat will visit Staples Center on Dec. 25 to face the Los Angeles Lakers.
That opening night game is going to be a monster.
In addition to seeing the Heat drop a banner and get their championship rings, we’ll also get to see them face a Bulls team featuring Derrick Rose playing in a game that counts for the first time in 18 months.
Rose was rumored to return at multiple stages throughout last season, including as late as the second round of the playoffs at home against the Miami Heat. But it never came to pass. He now appears to be on track to participate in a full training camp and preseason, and should be 100 percent ready for that late October date with the champs.
As for Christmas Day, it appears to be a little bit less intriguing on the surface.
The Lakers aren’t expected to compete at the Heat’s level this season, and may even be without Kobe Bryant for this matchup due to his continuing rehabilitation from a torn Achilles he suffered near the end of last season.
Bryant will of course push to be back on the court as soon as possible, and an opening night return isn’t out of the question.
If he’s back, any game featuring LeBron James and Kobe Bryant will be one that casual fans tune in to watch in huge numbers, no matter how far the Lakers slide in the standings. And that makes the league’s decision to put this matchup on the Christmas Day slate completely understandable.