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LeBron James and Kevin Durant will resume their rivalry in a Christmas Day match-up at the American Airlines Arena
The NBA released full schedules for all 30 teams on Thursday, and as reported Tuesday, the Miami Heat will kick off its title defense at home against the rival Boston Celtics on October 30. A Christmas Day NBA Finals rematch against the Oklahoma City Thunder is also on the Heat's schedule along with a New Year's Eve road game at Orlando.
In total, the Heat will appear on national television in 25 of its 82 games, with an additional 6 games on NBATV, befitting the most universally recognizable team in the NBA.
Unlike last year's lockout shortened season, the Heat will have more days off and no sets of back-to-back-to-back games. Miami will play 15 sets of back-to-back games, though, which is not unusual. The Heat played 17 back-to-backs last season in a 66-game schedule (one of those was a back-to-back-to-back)
Home games that will be of major interest to Heat fans include two visits from the New York Knicks (on December 6 and April 2), Brooklyn Nets (November 7 and December 1), and Los Angeles Lakers (February 10). The Thunder will not have any other games in Miami besides the Christmas Day match-up. Other Western Conference contenders' visits to Miami include the LA Clippers on February 8, San Antonio on November 29, and Dallas Mavericks on January 2.
Southeast Division rival Orlando comes to the American Airlines Arena on March 6 and April 17. It remains to be seen whether franchise center Dwight Howard will still be with the Magic by those dates.
The Celtics will make a second visit to Miami on April 12. They pushed the Heat in a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals this spring, but will be without veteran guard Ray Allen, who signed with the Heat this summer. Allen will make his first visit to Boston in a Heat uniform on January 27, with a second visit coming on March 18.
LeBron James returns to Cleveland for two road dates against the Cavaliers on March 20 and April 15. The latter is the second-to-last game of the season, so there is a chance James might not even play that night if the Heat are happy with their playoff seed.
Chris Bosh returns to Toronto for games against the Raptors on February 3 and March 17.
It should be another exciting season as the Heat goes for its third title in franchise history.