CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers’ quest for a return trip to the NBA Finals begins at home on Halloween night.
Cleveland opens its 2007-08 regular season on Oct. 31 against the Dallas Mavericks at Quicken Loans Arena, tipping off a six-month journey in which the Cavs will defend their first Eastern Conference championship.
That nationally televised matchup, along with the rest of the NBA schedule, was announced Thursday by the league office.
Cleveland also will play at home on Christmas Day against the Miami Heat, entertain the world champion San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 13 and wrap up its season at The Q on April 16 against archrival Detroit.
As has been the case for the last four years, LeBron James and the rest of the wine and gold are among the league’s marquee attractions. The Cavs’ 22 national TV appearances, however, are two fewer than last season.
Cleveland will have nine games shown on ESPN, play eight times on TNT, and have five contests aired by ABC. Nine additional Cavs games will be on NBA TV, which has limited nationwide exposure beyond DirecTV.
There is one significant stretch of concern for Cleveland — and it comes early on — in the form of a six-game, nine-day road trip. After opening with home games against the Mavericks and New York (Nov. 2), the Cavs head west for their longest journey of the season.
With Cleveland also traveling to China for six days in October during the preseason, its players may be feeling homesick well before Thanksgiving.
Among the highlights of the upcoming 82-game season:
• Cleveland plays San Antonio (and every other Western Conference team) in a home-and-home series. The Spurs, who swept the Cavs 4-0 in the NBA Finals, host them on Jan. 17 in a TNT game. Their Feb. 13 rematch in Cleveland is surprisingly a local-TV only affair.
• The Cavaliers battle the Central Division champion Pistons four times, but only once over the first 4 1/2 months of the season. The teams meet at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 28 and March 29, while Detroit comes to Cleveland on March 19 and April 16.
• The Heat, featuring Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade, plays a pair of ABC afternoon games here on Dec. 25 and April 13. The Christmas game will be the first ever played in downtown Cleveland. The Cavs’ lone trip to Miami is on Jan. 21.
• Former Ohio State center Greg Oden makes his in-state professional debut with the Portland Trail Blazers on March 10, while Cleveland visits the Rose Garden to play the rookie phenom on Jan. 30.
• Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers visit on Dec. 20, while Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets arrive on Feb. 10. The Cavs play in L.A. on Jan. 27 and at Denver on Nov. 12. The latter is the first James/Anthony matchup not broadcast by TNT, ABC or ESPN.
• Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce bring the new-look Boston Celtics to town on Nov. 27 and Feb. 5, while the up-and-coming Chicago Bulls arrive on March 2 and April 3.
• Every East team plays in Cleveland twice except for Atlanta and the Knicks, while Philadelphia and the Heat are the lone East franchises to host the Cavs just once.
• The Cavs have a trio of three-game homestands (Nov. 14-20, Dec. 20-25 and April 3-9) and wrap up the season by playing five of their last seven and nine of their final 14 contests at home.
• The NBA playoffs, which should include Cleveland for the third consecutive year, begin April 19.
Cavs season tickets are available now, while partial plans will be offered later this month. Individual game tickets go on sale in the fall. For more information, call 1-800-820-CAVS.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.