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NBA schedule release: Heat back in national TV spotlight

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Miami will play 16 of their first 37 games on national TV

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Six Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA released the first half of its pandemic-shortened regular season earlier today. And the Miami Heat will have 16 of their first 37 games on national television.

The Heat will open the 2020-21 season on the road against the Orlando Magic Dec. 23 before playing in the noon Christmas Day game, hosting the New Orleans Pelicans.

The regular season will be 72 games instead of the usual 82 games; the league suspended last season March 11 before restarting in July, with the Finals not finishing until October, when the NBA season typically starts.

The NBA’s new schedule cuts down on travel to limit the risks of spreading the coronavirus. The Heat will play five of their first seven games at home. But in February, Miami will go on a two-week-long road trip that includes visits to all the California teams — the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings. In previous years, Miami would split up their visits to those teams in two, separate road trips.

The Heat’s lone game scheduled to air on ABC is a Feb. 20 Finals re-match against the Lakers. Other noteworthy games appearing on national television include hosting the Boston Celtics Jan. 6 on ESPN; a Dec. 29 meeting with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on TNT; and a Jan. 14 matchup consisting of Jimmy Butler’s former team, the Philadelphia 76ers.