LeBron James will be at Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks on opening night, Nov. 2, and he will presumably have a big fourth quarter since a championship will not be on the line.
But that presumes there will be an opening night -- a presumption that will remain up in the air until we know whether the NBA lockout is settled in time for the 2011-12 season to begin on time.
The Knicks' schedule for the upcoming season was released today by the league office. Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and whoever else comprises next season's edition of the 'Bockers have been scheduled for 29 appearances on national television (the opener against the Miami Heat will be on ESPN), with one of the highlights coming in the third week of the season when Anthony returns to Denver for the first time since the Nuggets traded him to the Knicks last February.
Ten of the Knicks' first 13 games will be played on the road, including a seven-game stretch from Nov. 14-26 that includes five games in the West against Utah, Denver, the L.A. Lakers, Phoenix and Sacramento. The games against the Nuggets and Lakers will be on back-to-back nights, the latter scheduled to be televised by TNT as the second half of its Thursday doubleheader.
The Knicks also landed on the Christmas schedule for the second year in a row, with a noon EDT game at Madison Square Garden against the Boston Celtics. Those two teams also will meet three nights earlier in Boston for their first game since the Celtics swept the Knicks from the playoffs in four games last spring.
Other schedule highlights:
• There is a chance the Knicks will be 38,000 feet in the air when 2011 turns into 2012. They have a road game scheduled against the Clippers for 3:30 p.m. EST on Dec. 31 to cap a three-game Western road trip (including post-Christmas stops in Golden State and Portland), and their charter flight back to New York will likely still be airborne when the ball drops in Times Square.
• The road-heavy early portion of the schedule does not mean the Knicks will have it easy when they play their early-season home games. Miami is the first visitor, Oklahoma City is the second (on Nov. 8) and the Indiana Pacers will visit the Garden on Nov. 12 prior to the seven game road trip (in addition to the five games out West, the Knicks will then play at New Jersey and Philadelphia on back-to-back nights Nov. 25-26).
• The longest homestand of the season will be four games, which happens twice: Dec. 15-21 against Philadelphia, Memphis, the L.A. Clippers and Utah; and Jan. 31-Feb. 6 against Detroit, Chicago, New Jersey and Orlando.
• The Knicks have a back-to-back road set on the final two nights before the All-Star break, playing at Charlotte on Feb. 22 and at Miami on Feb. 23. Because they are playing on the Thursday before the break, the Knicks will have the day off on Tuesday following the All-Star break. They will then host Golden State on Feb. 29 before going on a four-game road trip to Toronto, Boston, San Antonio and Dallas (the defending champion Mavericks make their only visit to MSG on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 19, in a game scheduled to be televised on ABC.)
• Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and perhaps another other ex-Knick (Wilson Chandler is a restricted free agent) will not make their MSG returns until March 28, the 71st game of the season, when the Denver Nuggets travel to New York.
• Of the final 17 games of the season, 15 (including the final eight) will be against Eastern Conference opponents, including two apiece against the Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers.