The NBA Thursday night released its '12-13 schedule, and TNT will see its NBA broadcast slate increase to 52 games from last season’s lockout-shortened 45 games. Beginning with the net’s opening season broadcast of Celtics-Heat, TNT will air 10 Heat games throughout the season. The Knicks and Thunder also will have 10 games on TNT, followed by nine appearances each by the Lakers and Clippers. The Celtics and Mavericks will have eight appearances each on TNT. The number of NBA games during the upcoming regular season on ESPN, ABC, and NBA TV is the same as last season. ESPN will air 75 games beginning on Nov. 2, with a doubleheader broadcast of Heat-Knicks followed by Lakers-Clippers. ABC’s 15-game broadcast schedule begins on Christmas Day with a doubleheader starting with Lakers-Knicks followed by Thunder-Heat. The first of NBA TV’s 96 games to be aired will be on Oct. 31 with Hornets-Thunder followed by Lakers-Trail Blazers (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal).
ALL OUT OF MAGIC: ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote, "The appetizers spread across the season's first four nights are more appealing than the full plate Christmas Day." The "greatest wild card in the NBA season is the location" of Magic C Dwight Howard. Schedulers "are acting as if he won't be on the Orlando Magic come January." The Magic have "one game on ESPN in November, one ESPN game in December and nothing at all on the slate for ABC or TNT." As much as Howard's "name and face have been on TV all summer, maybe it's better that he stays in Orlando and off our screens." The "best part of the schedule is what isn't there this season: the dreaded back-to-back-to-back games." Adande: "In other words, back to normal" (ESPN.com, 7/26). In Orlando, Josh Robbins writes the Magic's schedule "says plenty about how NBA officials view the franchise's immediate future." However, all Magic games will "be televised locally" on FS Florida. That is the "first time in team history that one channel has handled all the local broadcasts" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/27).
SUBWAY SERIES: On Long Island, Al Iannazzone writes the Nets' move to Brooklyn and busy offseason have "raised expectations as well as the interest level in the team." The Nets will begin their "inaugural season in Brooklyn on Nov. 1 and christen the Barclays Center against the Knicks in a nationally televised TNT game." If that "isn't significant enough, it's the first of 12 games Deron Williams and the Nets will play on TNT and ESPN." The Nets will "host the Celtics at noon on Christmas Day on ESPN" and "all four of" their games against the Knicks "will air on TNT, ESPN or NBA TV." The Nets "didn't appear on TNT or ESPN last season and were on a major national TV network once during" the '10-11 season (NEWSDAY, 7/27). NEWSDAY's Iannazzone notes the Knicks' game against the Nets on Nov. 1 is the "first of 25 nationally televised games" for the team across TNT, ABC and ESPN (NEWSDAY, 7/27). In N.Y., Stefan Bondy notes Rockets G Jeremy Lin's "first game in New York ... will be as big, if not bigger, than the Knicks' home opener on Nov. 2 against the Heat." Lin's "first visit will certainly be the most hyped game of the year" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/27). NBA TV’s Matt Harpring said when Lin returns to MSG “that place is going to be crazy. I don’t think he’s going to get booed. I think he’s going to get a lot of applause.” NBA TV's Dennis Scott added, “We’re talking about New York. He doesn’t have a New York Knick uniform anymore so they’re going to applaud him, thank him, and then they’re going to boo" (NBA TV, 7/26).
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: In Miami, Ira Winderman notes that of the Heat's 82 regular-season games, 31 will be nationally televised, "a total which could increase based on NBA TV's fan-night voting for Tuesday broadcasts." The Heat "will play 14 of their first 22 games at home." Conflicts against the Dolphins "will be limited," with "no home date conflicts." The "only times the teams play the same day" are Nov. 11 and Nov. 15. However, there are "nine home-date conflicts with the Florida Panthers, including three in November and three more in February." Additionally, the Heat "are scheduled to play on consecutive nights only 16 times" in '12-13 (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/27).
THE THUNDER ROLLS: In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel writes the '12 NBA Finals were "sufficiently entertaining -- four riveting games before Miami's closing blowout -- to leave pro basketball wanting more." Tramel: "Not just more Thunder-Heat. More Thunder in general." The Thunder have the "league-maximum 25 nationally televised games." The team will be nationally televised "more often than the Lakers (24)." The release of the NBA schedule "has become affirmation of what we think we know but aren't always sure that basketball's bluebloods have figured out, too." That "this Thunder is the height of hoops entertainment." The Thunder's national TV appearances "are rising like its payroll: 15 in 2010-11, 17 in 2011-12 and the max 25 in 2012-13" (OKLAHOMAN, 7/27).
CLIP & SAVE: The SPORTS XCHANGE notes after "years of operating under the radar, probably for good reason, the Clippers will be one of the most featured teams in the NBA, playing a combined 23 games on ABC, ESPN and TNT." The team's "previous high for nationally televised games was 22, set last season" (SPORTSXCHANGE.com, 7/27). ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy said of the Clippers and Nets being among the teams featured on Christmas Day, “Years ago this thought would have never crossed in your head that both would be so transformed as to be featured and I think it’s great” (NBA TV, 7/26).
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM: In Houston, Jonathan Feigen noted for the "second consecutive season, the Rockets will be on ESPN just twice and not on TNT or ABC at all." Even NBA TV "seems to be looking the other way, with just four broadcasts getting picked up." With "no TNT games, the Rockets can have all of their games on their new station, Comcast SportsNet Houston" (CHRON.com, 7/26). CBSSPORTS.com's Ben Golliver wrote the "biggest Christmas question mark, by far, is the Rockets/Bulls match-up, as 2011 MVP Derrick Rose is not expected to play as he recovers from a knee injury." That leaves Lin "as the headliner, unless you were really intrigued by Omer Asik's restricted free agency move from Chicago to Houston" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/26).
ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: In L.A., Ben Bolch notes while the Lakers "have a full season's worth of dates at their disposal, they will endure 16 back-to-back situations, only two fewer than they did last year." The Lakers will "be home for Christmas for a sixth consecutive year" (L.A. TIMES, 7/27). In Indianapolis, Mike Wells notes after "years of being an afterthought on the national television scene, the Pacers will play seven games on TNT and ESPN during" the '12-13 season (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/27). In Ohio, Jason Lloyd notes the Cavaliers "return to national television with a Dec. 5 home game against" the Bulls on ESPN. The Cavs "did not have any games on ESPN or TNT last season" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/27). The SPORTS XCHANGE notes the Grizzlies will "be on national TV a franchise-record 15 times this season (seven on ESPN, one on TNT, seven on NBA TV)" (SPORTSXCHANGE.com, 7/27).