The good news is that the Nuggets are scheduled to open their season at home on Wednesday, October 28th against the Utah Jazz at 8:30pm MST (the game will be aired nationally on ESPN). The bad news is that they have to fly to Portland afterward for a Thursday night duel with the Trail Blazers, also at 8:30pm MST (aired nationally on TNT). Those who follow the NBA closely know that the worst back-to-back is the one after the late night nationally televised game. Not only do the games start late, but they take longer thanks to the numerous commercial breaks and force teams to leave for the next city at like two o'clock in the morning.
After the season opening back-to-back, the Nuggets get two days off and host the Grizzlies at home on Sunday, November 1st. Next, the Nuggets embark on an East Coast road trip: they'll be at Indiana on 11/3, at New Jersey on 11/4 (maybe they'll avenge last season's New Jersey debacle?), at Miami on 11/6, at Atlanta on 11/7, at Chicago on 11/10, at Milwaukee on 11/11 (meaning they'll do their annual two straight losses at Chicago and Milwaukee early this year...ha!) before returning home for a Friday the 13th home game against the Lakers (not surprisingly aired on ESPN).
You read that correctly: in the Nuggets first 10 games, only three are at home and they have four back-to-backs. And of their three home games, one is against the Jazz and the other against the Lakers. Yeesh. I'm just glad to see the Nuggets get their East Coast road trip against mediocre teams out of the way early when in theory they'll be their freshest. For reasons that make no sense, Indiana, New Jersey, Atlanta, Chicago and Milwaukee have given the Nuggets fits recently. In fact, the Nuggets are a combined 2-8 against those five teams on the road the past two seasons.
After that abnormal start to the season, the Nuggets get to relax somewhat through November. After the Lakers game, the Nuggets don't play again until Tuesday the 17th (home against the Raptors) and then not again until the following Friday the 20th (at the Clippers), followed by a back-to-back home game against the Bulls again. The Nuggets meet the Nets for their second meeting early, too, at Pepsi Center on 11/24 followed by a back-to-back at Minnesota on 11/25. The Nuggets get Thanksgiving off this year and don't play again until Sunday when they host the Timberwolves (it's pretty rare to see a home-and-home four days apart).
The Nuggets kick off December with a Tuesday night home game against the Warriors and will show up on TNT again when the Heat come to town on Thursday the 3rd. On Saturday the 5th the Nuggets get their first shot at the new-look Spurs in San Antonio and then hit the road again with games at Philadelphia on 12/7, at Charlotte on 12/8 and at Detroit on 12/10. Starting December 12th, the Nuggets host the Suns for the first of three straight home games, including the Thunder on 12/14 and the Rockets on 12/16. Next up are road games at New Orleans (12/18) and Memphis (12/20) and then the Nuggets host the Hawks on 12/23. The Nuggets will also be featured on the NBA's Christmas Day slate this year when they visit the Trail Blazers at 8:30pm MST (on ESPN). Before the New Year kicks in, the Nuggets get their final back-to-back of 2009 when they host the Mavericks on 12/27 and play at Sacramento on 12/28.
The Nuggets will ring in the new year with a punch in the face: at Utah on Saturday, 1/2. And their reward for that is a back-to-back home game against the Sixers the next day. Next, the Nuggets host the Warriors on 1/5 and the LeBron James/Shaquille O'Neal-led Cavaliers on Friday, 1/8 (to be aired on ESPN). After another back-to-back (this time at Sacramento on Saturday after the Cavs game), the Nuggets host the Timberwolves on 1/11, the Magic on 1/13 and the Jazz on Sunday, 1/17 (to be aired on ESPN). On 1/20 the Nuggets visit the Warriors and will play yet another back-to-back at home against the Clippers on 1/21 (to be aired on TNT). The final nine days of January have the Nuggets playing five times: vs New Orleans on 1/23, vs Charlotte on 1/25, at Houston on 1/27, at Oklahoma City on 1/29 and at San Antonio on 1/31 (to be aired on ABC).
The Nuggets kick off February with a home game against the Kings on 2/1 and against the Suns on 2/3 and then February gets brutal. The Nuggets get their first matchup against the Lakers at Staples Center on 2/5 (on ESPN) followed by a back-to-back at Utah on 2/6. Gee, thanks for that one, NBA schedule makers. After that early February back-to-back, the Nuggets host the Mavericks on Tuesday 2/9, the Spurs on 2/11 (on TNT) and then get another back-to-back at Cleveland on 2/18 and at Washington on 2/19. And to make things even tougher, the Celtics come to Denver on Sunday 2/21 (on ABC). The end of February lightens up a bit when the Nuggets travel to Golden State on 2/25 (on TNT) but have another back-to-back at home against the Pistons on 2/26. And just to add insult to injury, the Nuggets get to play at the Lakers again on Sunday 2/28 (on ABC). That's right, folks, two at Lakers games in one month!
March begins with the Nuggets playing another back-to-back, at Phoenix on Monday 3/1. But March should be easier going than February. The Nuggets host the Thunder on 3/3, the Pacers on 3/5 and the Trail Blazers on 3/7 (on ESPN). The Nuggets hit the road next at Minnesota on 3/10, at New Orleans on 3/12, at Memphis on 3/13 and at Houston on 3/15. The Nuggets get another mini-home stand when they host the Wizards on 3/16, the Hornets on 3/18 (on TNT) and the Bucks on 3/20. To balance things out, the NBA has the Nuggets hitting the road for their second East Coast swing: at New York on 3/23, at Boston on 3/24 (on ESPN), at Toronto on 3/26, at Orlando on 3/28 and concluding at Dallas on 3/29.
To wrap up the 2009-10 NBA Season, the Nuggets host the Trail Blazers on April Fool's Day (on TNT), the Clippers on 4/3, travel to Oklahoma City on 4/7 and then host the Lakers on Thursday 4/8 (also on TNT). Next up is a home date against the Spurs on 4/10 and the Grizzlies on 4/12. And finally, the 2009-10 campaign comes to an end at Phoenix on the 13th. So if the Nuggets find themselves in another dog fight for playoff positioning, they could theoretically pick up two late wins if necessary.
If you're scoring at home, that's a Western Conference high 22 back-to-backs, one more than last season and two more than the Nuggets played in 2007-08 (by comparison, the Lakers play 19 back-to-backs). And the Nuggets will appear on national TV 22 times. I guess this is the price of success?
Until we see how rosters shake out closer to the regular season, it's too early to predict (at least for me) how the Nuggets will fare game-by-game. But you can see the full 2009-10 NBA schedule here and the Nuggets schedule here and start making your own predictions!