The Washington Wizards just announced their 82-game schedule for the 2009-10 season. They will open the season in Dallas on Oct. 27, against the new-look Mavericks, then play the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 30, before opening at home on Halloween against the New Jersey Nets (Perhaps you remember what a loss to the Nets in the home opener last season meant for the Wizards).
The return of Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson from injuries, and the additions of Mike Miller, Randy Foye and Fabricio Oberto has raised the expectations in these parts for a team that finished with just 19 wins last season.
"We've had a very positive offseason, and we're eager to begin a new season and a new era of Wizards basketball," Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. "With Flip Saunders as our head coach, the healthy returns of our core players and the addition of several solid new pieces to the lineup, we're looking forward to having our fans join us for an exciting season ahead."
The Wizards will play on national television 16 times -- eight on NBA TV, seven on ESPN and once on TNT). Their ESPN games will be against Miami (on Nov. 4 and 27), Cleveland (Nov. 18), Boston (March 7), Golden State (Dec. 18), Orlando (April 7) and Indiana (April 14) in the regular season finale. They will play Boston (Dec. 10) on TNT.
It should be noted that the networks decided not to make them a part of the Christmas schedule. With Arenas and Haywood out, the Wizards were a measly 4-22 when they played the Cleveland Cavaliers last Christmas. The Wizards will play rival Cleveland three times, beginning Nov. 3 at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Wizards will have four Sunday matinees against Phoenix (Nov. 8), New Orleans (Jan. 10), the Los Angeles Clippers (Jan. 24) and the Portland Trail Blazers (Jan. 18, MLK Day). They will have a season-long, six-game homestand from Jan. 16-26 and their longest road trip will be two, four-game sets (a West Coast swing through the Clippers, Sacramento, Golden State and Phoenix from Dec. 14-19; and another West Coast swing through Utah, Denver, Portland and the Lakers from March 15-21).
The Wizards will have 21 sets of back-to-back games, with 11 coming in the road/home variety, five in the home/road and five more in the road/road category.
They will open the season with five of their first eight games on the road and finish with five of their final eight games at Verizon Center. The Wizards will play 13 of 18 games at home from Dec. 29 to Feb. 1, then turn around and play 11 of 16 games on the road from Feb. 28 to March 31.
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