The NBA announced full schedules for all 30 teams on Tuesday, and the Miami Heat will be featured in a number of marquee match-ups as they go for their third straight championship.
It all starts Opening Night, October 29, when the Heat will host the Chicago Bulls on TNT. It will be the first game back for Chicago's Derrick Rose, who missed last season recovering from an ACL injury and is the only person to win NBA MVP besides LeBron James during the last five seasons.
The Bulls are expected to be the biggest challengers to the Heat's dominance in the Eastern Conference. Without Rose, they lost to Miami in 5 games during the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.
Also gunning for the Heat in the East are the Indiana Pacers, who took Miami to seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. They will not face off until December 10, with a date in Indianapolis followed by a game in Miami on December 18. They play twice more in the final three weeks of the season.
For the third season in a row, the Heat will be part of the league's Christmas Day showcase, facing the Los Angeles Lakers on the road at 5:00pm ET. This will be the first time since 2008 that the defending champions play a Christmas on the road. The two last played each other on Christmas in 2011, with the Heat winning 96-80 at home.
"You care a little bit about what the schedule says, like where you'll be for the holidays and making sure that your family is there around you," Heat guard Mario Chalmers said. "Going to LA on Christmas this time, that's a little weird ... but you just show up and play."
Miami will get rematches with the San Antonio Spurs, their NBA Finals opponents, on January 26 in Miami and March 6 in San Antonio.
Mike Miller, a key contributor to the Heat's championships in 2012 and 2013, will make his return to Miami as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies on March 21. Newly-signed center Greg Oden will return to Portland to face the Trail Blazers on December 28. Portland selected him with the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Other intriguing home games include visits from the New York Knicks (February 27 and April 6), the revamped Brooklyn Nets (March 12 and April 8), Oklahoma City Thunder (January 29), and a second visit by the Bulls on February 23.
The Heat's full schedule can be viewed at Heat.com.