Monday , Aug , 08 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Spurs begin title defense on opening night versus Denver

New York, NY (Sports Network) – The NBA released its schedule Monday for the
upcoming 2005-06 season and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs will
highlight opening night when they host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, November
1 at SBC Center.

TNT will cover the Spurs/Nuggets game, which kicks off Premiere Week and will
feature the ring ceremony for the NBA champions. Also on opening night of the
league’s 60th season, the Dallas Mavericks will visit the high-flying Phoenix
Suns, who put together a league-best 62-20 record last year.

ESPN tips off its game coverage on November 2 with a doubleheader. In the
first game, the Philadelphia 76ers will head to The Palace to visit the two-
time Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons. Detroit, which won the title
in 2003-04 and lost to San Antonio in seven games during this past year’s NBA
Finals, will play its first game under new head coach Flip Saunders.

The second game of the doubleheader features Phil Jackson’s first game back as
the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers when his team visits the Pepsi Center
to face the Nuggets. Jackson won three NBA championships with the Lakers and
reached the Finals in 2003-04 before parting ways with the club.

On Thursday night TNT presents another marquee doubleheader featuring
Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat as they welcome the Indiana Pacers to
AmericanAirlines Arena. In the nightcap, Jackson will then make his return
debut in Hollywood as the Lakers host Phoenix.

Premiere Week continues on Friday, November 4 with ESPN’s doubleheader as
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Spurs, followed by the
Seattle SuperSonics taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves from KeyArena.

ABC will begin its coverage with a blockbuster Christmas Day doubleheader.
Game one features a highly-anticipated rematch of the 2005 NBA Finals as the
Spurs visit Detroit at The Palace of Auburn Hills. In the second game of the
doubleheader, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers travel east in their first matchup
with O’Neal and Miami. The matchup will be O’Neal’s first meeting against his
former coach, Jackson.

The ABC national television schedule consists of 20 regular-season games — up
from 18 last season — and appears on 12 consecutive Sundays from January 22
through April 16.

Other interesting matchups throughout the regular season include a December 2
game in Detroit as the New York Knicks visits the Pistons. The game will mark
new Knicks head coach Larry Brown’s return to Detroit, where he guided the
Pistons to consecutive trips to the Finals, including one championship.

Two of the game’s most dominant players will square off when O’Neal’s Heat and
Tim Duncan’s Spurs meet first in San Antonio on December 7 and again in Miami
on January 20.

Other intriguing contests call for a December 29 game between the Pistons and
Miami in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch, while the Spurs and Phoenix
will battle in a Western Conference Finals rematch on January 7.

The NBA and TNT will have a doubleheader on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
(January 16) as the Spurs visit the Memphis Grizzlies, followed by the second
game which has Miami visiting the Lakers.

The NBA schedule also features a week-long series of games that highlight
regional contests, divisional games and historic playoff matchups as part of
Rivalry Week, which runs from Thursday, February 23 through Wednesday, March
1. Rivalry Week tips off on TNT as the Pacers travel to Detroit, followed by
the long-time rivalry between the Sacramento Kings visiting the Lakers.

For the third straight season, ABC will exclusively broadcast the NBA Finals,
which tip off in June 2006. This season, TNT will be the exclusive home of the
2006 NBA Western Conference Finals and ESPN and ABC will exclusively televise
the 2006 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.