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The Los Angeles Lakers will host the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day. Photo by Jeff Lewis The NBA champion Dallas Mavericks will open the season — if it begins on time — at home on Nov. 1 against MVP Derrick Rose and Chicago, then host Miami in a finals rematch Christmas Day.The NBA released its complete 2011-12 schedule Tuesday despite being in a lockout that could last months and cause it to be scrapped.Owners and players are still well apart in negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expired June 30, and there is a fear that regular-season games could be lost to a work stoppage for the second time in league history.If not, Utah will host Houston in the Rockets' first game under Kevin McHale and without Yao Ming, and Oklahoma City will visit new coach Mike Brown and the Lakers to conclude the opening-night schedule.Most teams begin Nov. 2, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh starting their second season together on the Heat and facing a Knicks team led by Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.Also, Golden State hosts the Lakers in its first game under rookie coach Mark Jackson. No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving would make his pro debut that night when Cleveland visits Boston.The first meeting between the Mavs and Heat since Dallas' six-game victory in the finals highlights the Dec. 25 schedule. The Celtics visit the Knicks to open the tripleheader and the Lakers welcome the Bulls in the nightcap.The Mavs play in Miami for the first time since clinching their first title on March 29.
The schedule was released much later in the summer in recent seasons while the NBA was waiting for the completion of free agency and trades to see what other marquee matchups could be created. This time, with all transactions and most other league business on hold, there was no reason to wait.It's unclear what would happen to the schedule if the season is delayed, though it would likely depend on when a deal gets done. The 1998-99 season didn't begin until February, forcing an overhaul that limited teams to 50 games.If a deal is completed in time to save the entire season, other interesting games include:—The first meeting between Dallas and Los Angeles since the Mavs ended the Lakers' two-year title reign on Dec. 15 in Dallas.—Anthony's return to Denver with the Knicks on Nov. 16.—Deron Williams first game back in Utah with the Nets on Jan. 14.—Brown's first game in Cleveland since the Cavs fired him after consecutive 60-win seasons on Dec. 21.—The Magic and Nets playing a pair of games at the O2 Arena on March 7-8, the second straight year the NBA is staging regular-season games in London ahead of the 2012 Olympics.The All-Star break is scheduled for Feb. 24-26 in Orlando. The regular season ends April 18, with the Nets hosting the Bulls in their final game in New Jersey before moving to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season.
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