Blazers to open season vs. Nuggets

NBA schedule released despite lockout

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

 

The Trail Blazers released their 2011-2012 schedule Tuesday, and there wasn’t an asterisk in sight. You know, like the one that would say *assuming the 2011-2012 season actually happens.

The NBA lockout makes the games planned for next year about as certain as Portland sunshine, but assuming the labor dispute is sorted out on time, here is what Blazers fans have to look forward to.

An opening game against Denver. It’s quite possible that six out of the 10 starters introduced at the Rose Garden on Nov. 3 receive thunderous cheers. Assuming this game takes place, it will mark Andre Miller’s return to Portland after being traded to the Nuggets for Raymond Felton on draft night in June. Miller averaged 13.3 points and 6.2 assists in his two seasons as a Blazer, and once posted a 52-point game “without leaving the ground,” as LaMarcus Aldridge said in reference to Miller’s non-existent leaping ability.

But he also played an integral part in keeping Portland afloat when Brandon Roy went down with a knee injury, and will receive a thunderous ovation from the Rose Garden fans.

Just one home game against the Lakers. The Blazers will meet the 16-time NBA champions three times next year, but only one will be in the Pacific Northwest. There is little Portland fans enjoy more than hating on the purple and gold, but the night of January 24 will be the sole opportunity for them to do so in person.

Eighteen back-to-back games. This actually isn’t so bad. Last year, the Blazers endured 22 back-to-backs, which was tied for the fourth most in the league. In March, Portland coach Nate McMillan said that if his team continued to shoulder that many consecutive games in subsequent years, he would have to take it up with league.

Well, this year the pendulum seems to have swung back the Blazers’ way. The slight back-to-back relief could prove responsible for an extra win or two, which may be vital in the always competitive Western Conference.

Three long road trips. Last year, the Blazers’ longest stretch away from the Rose Garden was four games. Next season, they have a seven-game road trip in November, a six-game stretch in January, and another seven-game trip in March. Logic would suggest that this would lead to prolonged homestands as well, but there isn’t anything too lengthy — just a couple of four-game stints before Christmas, and then one more in February.

Speaking of Christmas, the Blazers will finally get to enjoy the holiday. Ever since Portland drafted Greg Oden in 2007, the NBA has scheduled it to play on December 25. Not so this year, as the Blazers are scheduled to meet the Suns at home on December 23, and then host the Clippers on December 26.

Twenty-one nationally televised games. Between ESPN, TNT and NBA TV, all the country will be able to see the Blazers for about a quarter of their contests. Nine games will be shown on ESPN, five on TNT, and seven on NBA TV.

Tough March home. As mentioned earlier, the Blazers’ seven-game road trip comes in the third month of the year, starting with Minnesota on the March 7 and ending with Miami on March 18. Additionally, 10 of Portland’s 17 games in March come against teams that finished above .500 last year.

Key dates: The Blazers travel to the defending champion Dallas Mavericks on November 28, and February 11, and host them on April 13. Portland will meet the Lakers on the road December 4, play them at the Rose Garden January 24, and head back to Los Angeles March 23.

The Blazers will host the Heat March 1 and the travel to Miami March 18.

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or matt.calkins@columbian.com

2011-12 PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS SCHEDULE

(All game times Pacific)

Nov. 3 Denver, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 4 at L.A. Clippers, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 6 at Phoenix, 5 p.m.

Nov. 9 at Denver, 6 p.m.

Nov. 10 San Antonio, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 12 Detroit, 7 p.m.

Nov. 14 Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Nov. 16 Chicago, 7 p.m.

Nov. 18 at Indiana, 4 p.m.

Nov. 19 at Milwaukee, 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 21 at Charlotte, 4 p.m.

Nov. 23 at Detroit, 4:30 p.m.

Nov. 25 Utah, 7 p.m.

Nov. 28 at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 30 at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m.

Dec. 2 Indiana, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 4 at L.A. Lakers, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 5 Minnesota, 7 p.m.

Dec. 8 Boston, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 12 Sacramento, 7 p.m.

Dec. 14 Toronto, 7 p.m.

Dec. 16 at Phoenix, 6 p.m.

Dec. 18 at Memphis, 3 p.m.

Dec. 19 at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 23 Phoenix, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 26 L.A. Clippers, 7 p.m.

Dec. 29 New York, 7 p.m.

Dec. 31 at Houston, 5 p.m.

Jan. 3 at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m.

Jan. 4 at Minnesota, 5 p.m.

Jan. 6 Memphis, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 8 Cleveland, 6 p.m.

Jan. 11 Orlando, 7 p.m.

Jan. 13 at San Antonio, 5 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Houston, 5 p.m.

Jan. 16 at Philadelphia, 11 a.m.

Jan. 18 at New Jersey, 4:30 p.m.

Jan. 20 at Washington, 4 p.m.

Jan. 21 at Chicago, 5 p.m.

Jan. 24 L.A. Lakers, 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 at Golden State, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27 Phoenix, 7 p.m.

Jan. 28 at Utah, 6 p.m.

Feb. 1 Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Sacramento, 7 p.m.

Feb. 4 Denver, 7 p.m.

Feb. 6 Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.

Feb. 8 Houston, 7 p.m.

Feb. 10 at New Orleans, 5 p.m.

Feb. 11 at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 14 Washington, 7 p.m.

Feb. 16 L.A. Clippers, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 18 Atlanta, 7 p.m.

Feb. 21 San Antonio, 7 p.m.

Feb. 22 at Utah, 6 p.m.

Feb. 29 at Denver, 6 p.m.

March 1 Miami, 7:30 p.m.

March 3 Minnesota, 7 p.m.

March 5 New Orleans, 7 p.m.

March 7 at Minnesota, 5 p.m.

March 9 at Boston, 4:30 p.m.

March 11 at Toronto, 10 a.m.

March 13 at Cleveland, 4 p.m.

March 14 at New York, 4:30 p.m.

March 16 at Orlando, 4 p.m.

March 18 at Miami, 3 p.m.

March 20 Milwaukee, 7 p.m.

March 22 Memphis, 7 p.m.

March 23 at L.A. Lakers, 7:30 p.m.

March 25 Golden State, 6 p.m.

March 27 Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.

March 29 New Orleans, 7 p.m.

March 30 at L.A. Clippers, 7:30 p.m.

April 1 Sacramento, 6 p.m.

April 4 New Jersey, 7 p.m.

April 6 at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m.

April 7 at Memphis, 5 p.m.

April 9 Houston, 7 p.m.

April 11 Golden State, 7:30 p.m.

April 13 Dallas, 7:30 p.m.

April 15 at Sacramento, 3 p.m.

April 18 Utah, 7:30 p.m.