By Special to the Daily World
Following the release of the 2011-2012 National Basketball Association (NBA) team schedules, the Atlanta Hawks learned they will be tested early, as nine of their first 13 games will be against 2011 playoff teams, highlighted by a Saturday, Nov. 19 contest at home against the current NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
Two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams will tangle in a nationally-televised game on Friday, Nov. 4, as the Hawks host the Boston Celtics at Philips Arena in their home opener, two nights after the team travels to Minneapolis to meet the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2011-12 season opener on Nov. 2.
The Atlanta-Boston game is the first of seven national broadcasts on ESPN, with a total of 12 national TV opportunities for the season, as NBA-TV will televise four Hawks games and TNT will feature the team on Thanksgiving for the third year in a row (Thursday, Nov. 24 vs. Philadelphia).
The Orlando Magic will make the first of their two appearances in Atlanta on Friday., Dec. 30, followed by a Friday the 13th special in April. Chicago is the Hawks’ first home opponent of the new year, rolling into town Saturday, Jan. 7, and returning again in March (Wednesday, 28th).
The Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat will appear at Philips on Friday, Dec. 9 and Wednesday., April 4, while the always-popular contest against the Los Angeles Lakers will take place before the Christmas holidays, on Saturday, Dec. 17.
This year’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday game is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 16 against Toronto at 4 p.m.
The 41-game home schedule is highlighted by 20 weekend dates – with 11 games on Fridays, eight on Saturdays and one on a Sunday – Dec. 4 vs. Charlotte. Atlanta will play four straight at Philips Arena between Dec. 17-23, and six consecutive road games from March 3-13. The Hawks’ busiest month of competition comes in March when Atlanta plays 17 games, and they will close out the season with six of the final 10 games on the road.