The past and present meet the future opening night in the NBA. The NBA schedule was released early Thursday evening and revealed that the San Antonio Spurs will open their season Halloween night against Monty Williams, Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets in the Big Easy. That next night the Spurs have a whopper of a home opener, facing Oklahoma City for a Western Conference Finals rematch. So at least they're getting one of their back-to-backs out of the way early.
In addition to the Thunder, November's schedule features quite a few notable matchups for the Spurs. They host 2011-2012 first round opponent Utah (11/3), welcome George Hill back to SA (11/5), travel to Los Angeles to play Chris Paul and the Clippers (11/7), go back to L.A. to face off against Steve Nash's Lakers (11/13), host the Knicks (11/15), the Clippers (11/19), head to Boston (11/21) and close out the month by traveling to South Beach to play the World Champion Miami Heat (11/29). November ends with a six game road trip through the Eastern Conference.
I'm not sure if you still care about this "rivalry", but the Spurs host the Grizzlies (12/1) to kick off December and get their first look at Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and whoever else is still on the Rockets (12/7) less than a week later. December features what teams that don't have a Rodeo Road Trip would call a rough stretch. The Spurs play eight games in eleven days, six of those coming on the road inlcuding Boston at home (12/15) and OKC on the road (12/17). Don't worry, the pay off comes after the All-Star Break. The Spurs get Christmas Eve and Christmas off before hosting Toronto (12/26). The Spurs then close out 2012 with a New Year's Eve match up against the Nets in San Antonio (12/31).
The Silver and Black host Pau Gasol's Lakers for the first time nine days in to the new year (1/9). Richard Jefferson makes his long awaited return to San Antonio (you guys missed him, right?) with the Golden State Warriors on the back end of a three game homestand (1/18). Other January highlights include consecutive games against the Dallas Mavericks (home 1/23, away 1/25).
February has meant one thing for the San Antonio Spurs since 2003 has meant one thing and one thing only: The Rodeo Road Trip. This year the Spurs play nine games in 18 days with a six day gap in between their midwest/east coast and west coast swings to accomodate for the All-Star Break and a little extra rest. In order, the Spurs play Minnesota (2/6), Detroit (2/8), Brooklyn (2/10), Chicago (2/11), Cleveland (2/13), Sacramento (2/19), L.A. Clippers (2/21), Golden State (2/22), Phoenix (2/24). That looks like a Rodeo Road Trip that will lend itself well to winning, especially when you consider Derrick Rose will almost certainly not be playing that Chicago game.
March features only two road games for the Spurs, at Minnesota (3/12) and at Houston (3/24). They also host the Miami Heat for the first time in two seasons. You'll remember the lockout wiped out Miami's lone trip to San Antonio last year (3/31). Be prepared for an abundance of LeBron and Wade jerseys, Spurs fans.
Somehow, the Spurs have one more road game than home games in April. They make their final trip to Oklahoma City for the regular season (4/4) and play a back to back against the Golden State Warriors (4/14) and Andrew Bynum's Los Angeles Lakers (4/15). Unlike last season, this season's April is a short one as the playoffs will actually start on time.
To wrap up, the Spurs have 17 back to backs, nine games on the Rodeo Road Trip and 20 nationally televised games if you're counting NBA TV. Here's the full run down of nationally televised games (not counting NBA TV's Nerd Night, where fans get to choose Tuesday night games):
10/31: at New Orleans Hornets (NBA TV), 11/1: vs Oklahoma City Thunder (TNT), 11/7: at L.A. Clippers (ESPN), 11/29: at Miami Heat (TNT), 12/8: at Charlotte Bobcats (NBA TV), 12/12/12(!!!): at Utah Jazz (ESPN), 12/13: at Portland Trailblazers (TNT), 1/9: vs L.A. Lakers (ESPN), 1/21: at Philadelphia 76ers (TNT), 1/25: at Dallas Mavericks (ESPN), 2/6: at Minnesota Timberwolves (ESPN), 2/10: at Brooklyn Nets (ESPN), 2/11: at Chicago Bulls (NBA TV), 2/21: at L.A. Clippers (TNT), 2/22: at Golden State Warriors (ESPN), 3/6: vs Chicago Bulls (ESPN), 3/11: vs Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA TV), 3/14: vs Dallas Mavericks (TNT), 3/31: vs Miami Heat (NBA TV), 4/1: at Memphis Grizzlies (NBA TV).
Okay maybe it's just me here, but the fact that the Brooklyn Nets have more televised games than the Spurs is disgusting. Even with Johnson, they are likely not going to be a playoff team, whereas the Spurs made the WCF last year and could have easily made it to the finals if it weren't for some very sketchy officiating in Game 6. I don't care who you are, the Spurs were fun to watch last year, and deserve to be nationally televised more often.