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Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Rapid reaction: The Heat's 2011-12 schedule

By Tom Haberstroh

Joel
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
LeBron and Dirk will go head-to-head again on Christmas day, a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals.

Mark these down, folks. In pencil.

The NBA released the 2011-12 schedule for all 30 teams and, as expected, the league is leveraging the Miami Heat into their biggest time slots. Although we don't know who's signing where -- honestly, are you going to tune in to watch David West? -- we can get a pretty good idea what the big storylines will be for each game. For the full Heat schedule, use this link, but here's your Heat cheat sheet.

(Oh, and there's a chance that none of these games are played. Worth keeping in mind as we go along.)

Nov. 2 at New York Knicks: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The season-opener. Maybe. The Knicks will host the Heat and show off the newly renovated Madison Square Garden. Carmelo vs. LeBron. Stoudemire vs. Bosh. Fields (?) vs. Wade. The Heat split the season series against the Knicks last season, but lost their only matchup against the new-look Knicks with Anthony in tow. Last season, the Heat dropped their season-opener against the Boston Celtics with a gimpy and rusty Dwyane Wade.

Nov. 3 vs. Orlando Magic: 8 p.m. ET

Heat will make their AmericanAirlines Arena 2011-12 debut against their Florida rivals, the Orlando Magic. Dwight Howard and the Magic won't be playing on Christmas day so this matchup figures to be their biggest draw during the regular season. Also worth noting: The Heat's first two games will be a back-to-back.

Nov. 16 vs. Boston Celtics: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Celtics will look to get revenge against the Heat after Miami disposed of the C's in five games during the Eastern Conference semifinals. With Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen hitting free agency after 2011-12, each game between the Big Threes may be the last. Hopefully, Rajon Rondo's elbow will be fine by then so there won't be an asterisk attached to this game.

Nov. 18 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Not every Cleveland fan got a chance to boo LeBron James last season, so expect a fresh new batch of jeers this time around. The Heat were embarrassed 102-90 in their last matchup.

Dec. 8 vs. Los Angeles Lakers: : 8 p.m. ET, TNT

LeBron plays against his old coach, Mike Brown, for the first time. The Heat went undefeated against the Lakers last season, taking both of their games against the defending champs in 2010-11. Will Dwight Howard be in purple and gold?

Dec. 25 at Dallas Mavericks: 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Finals rematch. Will free-agents-to-be Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea be a part of it?

Jan. 19 vs. Chicago Bulls: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Chicago Bulls will have to wait until 2012 to avenge their Eastern Conference finals loss. The Heat will host Derrick Rose and the Bulls in the first of four meetings between these two powers next season. Will Rose finally have a star shooting guard by then?

Feb. 5 vs. Toronto Raptors: Noon ET

If there's an encore of the 1998-99 lockout, then this will be the Heat's season-opener. Feel the excitement!

Mar. 1 at Portland Trail Blazers: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT

Remember the epic overtime throwdown between these two teams on Jan. 9? Remember when Chris Bosh said he needed the ball more after a tough Heat loss last season? The Heat's games against Portland were enthralling last season. I wonder if LeBron will welcome the boos again at the Rose Garden.

Mar. 4 at Lakers: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

This could be a preview of the 2011-12 NBA Finals. Lakers-Heat will only happen twice during the regular season, so make sure this one is circled.

Mar. 29 vs. Mavericks: 8 p.m. ET, TNT

The last time Heat fans saw the Mavericks in AmericanAirlines Arena? Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks raised the Larry O'Brien trophy center court. Should be a fun one.

Apr. 18 vs. Philadelphia 76ers: 8 p.m. ET

Last game of the season. The Sixers and the Heat will play four times in the upcoming season. The Sixers will end the 2011-12 regular season on the same floor that they opened the 2010-11 playoffs.

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Some random notes: