Plenty of highlights on Brooklyn's recently revealed season slate
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
If there was any doubt that billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has achieved his goal of turning the Brooklyn Nets into a legitimate NBA "superpower" during his first three years of ownership, one need only take a cursory glance at the team's 2013-14 regular-season schedule, released Tuesday evening.
Though they open and close their campaign with less-than-glamorous visits to Cleveland on Oct. 30 and April 16, respectively, the Nets will play 26 nationally televised games, 17 of which will be featured on either TNT or ESPN, including their much-anticipated home opener at Barclays Center against the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Nov. 1.
After winning 49 games, including a team-record 23 on the road, during their inaugural season in our fair borough, the Nets are expected to make a serious run at the Atlantic Division crown this coming season.
With East River rival New York tabbed as its chief competitor for the Atlantic title, Brooklyn will host borough native Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks for the first of four meetings on Dec. 5.
The Nets won't step foot in Madison Square Garden until Jan. 20, and the teams will square off twice during the season's final month on April 2 at MSG, and again April 15 in Brooklyn for the second-to-last game of the year.
The league braintrust has apparently set up these late-season dates in an attempt to have the Knicks and Nets battle it out mano-a-mano for the division title as the regular-season winds down.
The flurry of second-half showdowns between the teams runs contrary to last season's slate, which saw the Knicks and Nets split four meetings by Jan. 21, leaving the final two months of the schedule devoid of a single heated encounter.
For the second straight year, the Nets will host a Christmas Day game at Barclays.
Last X-Mas, the Nets were embarrassed at home by Boston's Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, all of whom are now in Brooklyn uniforms via last month's blockbuster deal, prompting the firing of former head coach Avery Johnson.
This Dec. 25, the Nets will welcome the Poly Prep alum Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls to the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in the hopes of earning a measure of revenge for last season's first-round playoff encounter, which they lost in seven tough games, forcing the exit of interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat will return to Barclays on Jan. 10, headlining a season-high four-game homestand for the Nets.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will be in Brooklyn on Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 27).
Also, the Nets will be featured in a regular-season contest against the Atlanta Hawks at London's O2 Arena on Jan. 16.
Other important dates on the schedule include a Jan. 26 visit to Boston, where Garnett and Pierce will get reacquainted with the Beantown faithful for the first time since landing in Brooklyn in the Draft Day deal that sent Kris Humprhies, Gerald Wallace and Keith Bogans to the Celtics.
Garnett and Pierce were the centerpieces of the Celtics teams that captured the 2008 NBA title and fell one game shy of grabbing another crown in 2010.
"You want to show that it's still your arena," NBA.TV analyst Chris Webber said of the feelings Garnett and Pierce may be experiencing when they return to TD Garden. "I can honestly say [the Nets'] window is two years [to win a championship in Brooklyn]. K.G. and Paul can bring over their experience. I wouldn't want to go into a fight with too many other guys than those two, especially in the playoffs."
The former Boston trio will go head-to-head against ex-Celtics coach Doc Rivers when the Nets visit the L.A. Clippers, Rivers' new team, on Nov. 16, capping a three-game Western swing.
With the circus back in town, and the All-Star break in between, the Nets will go on another record-setting road trip spanning Feb. 13-March 1 -- that's 18 days away from Brooklyn, if you're counting.
Brooklyn will visit Chicago, Utah, Golden State, the L.A. Lakers, Portland, Denver and Milwaukee during the seven-game odyssey.
Last season, the Nets went 5-3 on a similar jaunt that helped them capture the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage for their first-round playoff encounter with the Bulls.
Former Mavericks great and Nets rookie head coach Jason Kidd will lead the Nets into Dallas on March 23, returning to the site of his greatest achievement as a player. Kidd and Terry manned the backcourt for the Mavs when they stunned the Heat in six games during the 2011 NBA Finals, grabbing the franchise's first championship.
Don't be surprised if this event features a pregame ceremony honoring Kidd for his two stints as a point guard in Dallas.
The Nets will spend New Year's Eve in San Antonio for the second straight campaign before heading to Oklahoma City on Jan. 2 for one of their eight scheduled contests to be aired on NBA.TV.