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NBA: League releases schedule ahead of ratified labor agreement

December 07, 2011 17:11 IST

The National Basketball Association does not yet have a ratified labor agreement but the league moved full speed ahead on Tuesday by announcing a provisional schedule.

The NBA's 66th season will be comprised of 66 games, 16 less than the norm due to the five-month lockout over a labor dispute that ended November 26 with a handshake agreement.

The season begins on December 25 with a Christmas Day slate of five games and ends April 26. Playoffs are to begin April 28 with the last possible NBA Finals date June 26.

The opening day features a championship re-match between holders Dallas and Miami, pitting the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki against the Heat's power trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Dallas will raise their NBA title banner prior to tip-off.

"I think it's exciting for us just to be back playing basketball," Bosh told NBA TV. "To open up the season with that, I think it's great. We're going to have to watch them hang their banner, but it will be motivation for us."

Also on tap will be the renewal of an old rivalry as the Boston Celtics' Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce visit the New York Knicks and their dynamic tandem of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.

Later, NBA MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, who won a league-best 62 games last season, visit the Los Angeles Lakers and perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant.

Two-time scoring champion Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder go against the Orlando Magic and three-time defensive player-of-the-year Dwight Howard. The Los Angeles Clippers and last season's rookie-of-the-year Blake Griffin visit the Golden State Warriors.

The Lakers will be tested right from the start with back-to-back-to-back games in the first three days, taking on the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz after opening against Chicago.

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