The Denver Nuggets released their 2012-13 schedule on Thursday and it’s pretty apparent that the Nuggets have a tough road ahead – especially at the start of the season.
Denver plays three road games to open the season and 12 of the first 17 games are on the road. At least the road gets easier after that, hopefully. Here is a list of 10 (or 13) can’t miss Nuggets games this season:
- Melo’s Return (March 13): All eyes will be on the Pepsi Center on March 13 when Carmelo Anthony makes his first appearance at the Pepsi Center since being traded. When that date arrives it would be more than two years since the Nuggets traded Anthony to the New York Knicks in an 11-player trade in Feb. 2011. The Nuggets did play the Knicks in New York last season and Danilo Gallinari led all scorers with 37 points in Denver’s win. But New York added some help, including former Nuggets’ center Marcus Camby. Lets just say it is a can’t miss for Nuggets fans. It will also be the return of J.R. Smith to Denver.
- Christmas Day Dandy (December 25): The Nuggets will close out Christmas Day by traveling to Los Angeles to face the Clippers. The Clippers, who are one of the up and coming teams in the West, finished fifth in the West – one spot and two games ahead of the Nuggets. L.A. features the exciting duo of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and Denver native Chauncey Billups, also known as Mr. Big Shot. No doubt Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee won’t lay down without a fight.
- World Champ’s Appearance (Nov. 15): Denver fans won’t have to wait long to see the defending champion Miami Heat. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will be in town on Nov. 15 and they are bringing reinforcements with the addition of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Ironically the Big Three haven’t been too successful against the Nuggets. Bosh, James and Wade are a combined 12-38 against the Nuggets and are 3-24 at the Pepsi Center. In fact, Wade has never won in Denver and Bosh hasn’t won a game at the Pepsi Center since his rookie year. Since teaming up the Big Three are 1-2 against the Nuggets.
- Home Opener (Nov. 6): After starting the game with three consecutive road games the Nuggets return home to host the Detroit Pistons. Detroit nearly upset Denver last season, but McGee (in his first action as a Nugget) tapped in a missed dunk to get the win for Denver.
- Season Opener (Oct. 31): Denver opens the season on the road at the Philadelphia 76ers. Both were playoff teams last season, but it is expected that the Sixers will take a step back after losing Elton Brand and Lou Williams. It will also be a return to the town of brotherly for Andre Miller, who spent three seasons with the Sixers. He also lit up his old team with 28 points. It will also be interesting to see if Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler will be ready to play, both had surgery in the off-season and are trying to rehab before the season begins.
- Christmas Day Hangover (Dec. 26): The holidays will be unkind to the Nuggets. Less than 24 hours after traveling to L.A. to play the Clippers the team will have to turn around and return home to face the dreaded Lakers. The Nuggets put a scare in the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs after forcing a Game 7. However, L.A. made big improvements in the offseason adding veterans Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison. Nash gives the Lakers a three-point threat and Jamison gives L.A. a scoring spark off the bench, which they lacked last season.
- Nene’s Return (Jan. 18): This isn’t as big of a return as Anthony, but Nene spent 10 seasons in Denver and even met his wife in Colorado before being dealt to the Wizards last spring for McGee. The Wizards finished last season on a six-game winning streak and made efforts to improve this offseason. They drafted Bradley Beal in the draft and traded for veterans Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. It will also be the first time McGee plays his former team.
- Early Western Conference road trip: It’s hard to talk about the importance of early games in the season, but Denver faces three potential playoff opponents in November on the road. In a three-day road trip which begins Nov. 17 and ends Nov. 21 Denver faces the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Spurs finished first in the West and nearly returned their entire squad. The Grizzlies one big loss is OJ Mayo, but they replaced him with Jerryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington. They will also be getting Darrell Arthur back, Arthur missed last season with a back injury. Memphis also swept the season series with the Nuggets. The Timberwolves are another team on the rise, not only do they feature the young duo of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, but they bolstered their roster with Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy. A road win against any one of those three foes would be huge for Denver.
- Thunder Come To Town (Jan. 20 and March 1): Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are arguably the top team in the West and are the best team for the Nuggets to measure themselves against. The Thunder are not only young, but talented with three potential All-Stars on their team (Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden).
- Brooklyn’s Block Party (Feb. 13): Denver will get its first looks at the Brooklyn Nets new arena, the Barclays Center. It’s still uncertain if the Nets are a playoff team, but no doubt their Fab Four (Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams) created some headlines.
Tags: Al Harrington Andre Miller Carmelo Anthony Chauncey Billups Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets J.R. Smith JaVale McGee Kenneth Faried Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers Miami Heat Minnesota Timberwolves Nene New York Knicks Oklahoma City Thunder Philadelphia 76ers San Antonio Spurs Ty Lawson Wilson Chandler