Super Bowl in Big Apple highlights Heat schedule

Updated: 2013-08-08 06:39

By Associated Press in Miami (China Daily)

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Super Bowl in Big Apple highlights Heat schedule

NBA champs to hit New York just in time for big NFL bash

The Miami Heat are going to the Super Bowl.

Well, at least to Super Bowl weekend.

Among the favorite moments for Heat players on their way to a second straight NBA championship last season was staying in Toronto for a few unplanned hours after a game against the Raptors so the team could have a Super Bowl party.

The Heat won that day to start what became a 27-game winning streak, the second-longest in NBA history.

And this year, the Heat will get a better look at Super Bowl hoopla.

The league is sending Miami to Madison Square Garden on Feb 1 - one night before the NFL championship game at the nearby stadium the New York Giants and Jets call home - for a game that is certain to be a star-studded affair.

It's one of the clear highlights on this coming season's schedule, released by the league on Tuesday night.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of last season's championship club will get their latest rings on Oct 29, shortly before the Heat start the year against the Bulls.

That game also figures to be Derrick Rose's return from an April 2012 knee injury that kept him sidelined for the entirety of last season - including Miami's five-game victory over Chicago in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

"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."

It's the first time since 2008 the league's reigning champion will be sent on the road for Christmas. Miami will play on Dec 25 at the Los Angeles Lakers, who are waiting to see how quickly Kobe Bryant can return from the Achilles tear he endured in April.

The Heat being on the road for Thanksgiving - a day sandwiched between games at Cleveland and Toronto - and for Christmas in Los Angeles didn't seem to sit well with Heat forward Shane Battier.

"The schedule I got said that we are on the road for Xmas and Turkey Day," Battier wrote on Twitter. "I think I received a bad copy."

Other key matchups and notes from the Heat schedule:

The NBA Finals rematches with San Antonio, at home on Jan 26 and at the Spurs on March 6.

Miami gets its first look at the Brooklyn Nets, who added Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry among others to their roster this summer, in game No 3 of the Heat season. The Heat are at the Nets on Nov 1, which is Brooklyn's home opener.

Mike Miller's return to Miami will be March 21. The former Heat guard was designated this summer as the team's amnesty player, and signed a deal to return to the Grizzlies not long after clearing waivers.

It's still unknown if Miller will have to wait until March 21 to get his championship ring, or if he could be presented with it earlier (the Grizzlies are off on the night Miami will hand out the rings to open the year).

Miami and Eastern Conference finalist Indiana will play four times, starting with a game in Indianapolis on Dec 10. The teams will play twice in the final three weeks of the season.

James' two trips back to his former Cleveland home are Nov 27 and March 18.

Greg Oden's return to Portland would be Dec 28. Miami is expected to complete the signing of the former No 1 overall pick as early as Wednesday.

Miami has a pair of six-game road trips, and a pair of five-game homestands. The Heat play nine of their first 14 games at home, then seven of their final 10 games at home as well.

The schedule includes 17 sets of back-to-back games, five in March - a month where the Heat play 18 games in 31 days.

The marquee Christmas Day schedule features five games: Chicago at Brooklyn, Oklahoma City at New York, Miami at the Lakers, Houston at San Antonio and the Clippers at Golden State.

No 1 pick Anthony Bennett could make his NBA debut at home when Cleveland hosts Brooklyn on Oct 30.

The regular season ends on April 16. The All-Star Game is on Feb 16 in New Orleans.

(China Daily 08/08/2013 page24)