Wizards season schedule breakdown: Part I
Editor's note: Before he went on vacation, Michael Lee broke down the 2010-11 Wizards' season, in six parts.
GAMES (Home, Road, Back-to-backs): 16 (8, 8, 3)
OVERALL: John Wall gets an intense welcome to the league as the Wizards open the season with nine playoff teams from last season. Cleveland is likely headed toward the lottery, but that still leaves eight, including a much-improved Heat squad. The best part about the early schedule is that after opening the season with the first two games on the road, the Wizards only have one-game road trips in November, with a relatively light schedule at home. Houston and Orlando are the only home opponents projected to make the postseason next season. Wall will also have to contend with point guards Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Jameer Nelson and Aaron Brooks.
GAMES TO WATCH:
Oct. 28, at Orlando: John Wall will make his NBA debut as the new-look Wizards help open the Orlando Magic's new arena, Amway Center on TNT. The game will have some intrigue since Orlando was one of the first places rumored to be a desired home for Gilbert Arenas in the wake of his season-ending suspension last January -- given his close ties to Magic general manager Otis Smith -- and the Wizards inquired about making a deal for Vince Carter last summer. The Magic had a relatively uneventful summer, aside from drafting Daniel Orton, signing Chris Duhon and losing Matt Barnes to the Los Angeles Lakers, but it remains one of the few threats to win the Eastern Conference. It is one of just two games on TNT for Washington in the upcoming season.
Nov. 2, Philadelphia: During the NBA combine in Chicago, Evan Turner said that no matter who went first that he and Wall would likely be linked for the rest of their careers. And, he's probably right, at least for the first few seasons. Will the Wizards look back and feel good about their choice, like Chicago is two years after taking Derrick Rose over Michael Beasley? Or will they feel like Portland, wondering how they passed on Kevin Durant to take Greg Oden? The first two picks of the 2010 NBA draft will go head-to-head for the first time in the Wizards home opener, but fans will also pay close attention to the new product, with a familiar face in Arenas. Former Wizards Coach Doug Collins is also back on the bench in Philadelphia, where his playing career began.
Nov. 6, Cleveland: Former Wizards captain Antawn Jamison makes his return to the Verizon Center, but in a much different position than he had hoped. Jamison's pursuit of a championship placed him in an awkward position of joining forces with a former nemesis. By now, people know how that turned out: Jamison and the Cleveland Cavaliers flamed out in the postseason and LeBron James stomped all over Cleveland when he decided to break up with the city during an ESPN egofest, er, telecast, and announced that he was taking his "talents to South Beach." Now Jamison, who has won just two playoff series in his first 12 seasons, is stuck with yet another lottery team; a woeful situation he thought he'd left behind.
Nov. 10, Houston: After missing all of last season recovering from a severe foot injury, Yao Ming is back. The all-star center is completely healthy, which is good news for the Houston Rockets, but also should ensure a pretty nice crowd in Chinatown as he goes against his former teammate on the Chinese national team, Yi Jianlian. Yi has had to replace Yao as the face of Chinese basketball at the FIBA world championships this summer in Turkey. China's two NBA players usually play well against one another.
Nov. 12, Charlotte: The Wizards aren't the only franchise starting the season with a new owner in tow. Michael Jordan, whom Ted Leonsis helped bring to the Wizards organization back in 2000, became the first former NBA player to assume ownership of a franchise when he took over the Charlotte Bobcats in March. In some ways, it will feel like old times, with the Bobcats signing Kwame Brown and reminding Wizards fans of a truly forgettable era. Shaun Livingston will also return to Washington after his two month resurrection with the Wizards resulted in a three-year deal with the Bobcats.
Nov. 13, at Chicago: Kirk Hinrich will already have a semi-reunion when the Wizards face the Chicago Bulls in the preseason (on my birthday, no less), but it will finally count this time. Hinrich said his trade from Chicago "blindsided" him last June. The Bulls were unable to lure LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade as they had hoped after dealing Hinrich, but they snagged Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer and should be one of the best teams in the East with the improved play of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. They also have a new coach in Tom Thibodeau, whose defensive schemes helped Boston make two trips to the NBA Finals in the past three seasons.
Nov. 17, at Boston: The Boston Celtics have slowly become the San Antonio Spurs, managing to get older and seemingly better each summer. The Celtics cornered the market on O'Neals, signing Shaquille and Jermaine to shore up the front line with Kendrick Perkins knee injury and Rasheed Wallace's retirement. They also re-signed both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Rajon Rondo may have been cut, um, withdrawn from Team USA, but it could work in favor of Boston, giving Rondo more motivation for the upcoming season. Rondo will also get to show his fellow Kentucky alum Wall but the NBA is about.
Nov. 29, at Miami: The Wizards have always had a hard time defeating Dwyane Wade by himself, but what are they going to do now that Wade is supported by his SuperFriends, Chris Bosh and the could-be King? The Heat is the marquee team of the East after Pat Riley worked his charms to pull off the greatest free agent coup in NBA history, landing a two-time league MVP and the league's best power forward under age 27. Although Wade has owned the Wizards over the years, fans in Washington have always had always spared their greatest venom for James, based largely on those intense playoff battles with Cleveland from 2006 to '08. The game could also be a bit more painful with the return of Mike Miller reminding the Wizards that they have nothing to show for the fifth pick in 2009.
August 31, 2010; 11:32 AM ET
Categories: Wizards 2010-11 schedule breakdown
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