The Phoenix Suns released their complete 2010-11 schedule Tuesday and the team will once again face a tough start to the season.
The Suns open the year on the road for the fifth consecutive season, this year taking on the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 26. The Suns last met the Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, a series which the Suns won in six games.
After that the Suns head to Salt Lake City for the first game of a Oct. 28-29 back-to-back with the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns meet the defending champion Lakers twice in their first nine games, first at home and then on the road Nov. 14.
The Jazz matchup will be the first of 25 nationally-televised games for the Suns, including the next night’s Lakers game on ESPN. The Suns’ national TV schedule features two games on ABC, 10 on ESPN, seven on TNT and six on NBA TV.
Though it’s no 19-of-26 road games opener like the Suns saw last season, they do spend 11 of their first 18 games away from US Airways Center. Additionally, five of the Suns’ first six opponents were playoff teams last season.
One of the toughest sets on the 2010-11 schedule may be a mid-November back-to-back in Florida. The Suns get their first look at the new powerhouse Miami Heat featuring Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh on Nov. 17. The very next night the Suns make their way to Orlando for a meeting with Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic. The Heat make their one and only 2010-11 appearance in Phoenix on Dec. 23, just days before Miami’s Christmas showdown with the Lakers. Both games against the Heat will be televised nationally, the first on ESPN and the second on TNT.
Freshly-departed former Suns All-Star Amare Stoudemire makes his return to the Valley Jan. 7 (also on ESPN) and the Suns travel to his new New York digs on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 17.
The Suns do get some relief this season, as they play 16 back-to-back sets instead of the 20 they did in 2009-10.
Here’s the Suns’ full 2010-11 schedule: