If NBA labor strife wipes out the early part of the season, many of the Atlanta Hawks’ most attractive home games could be lost.
The league, with fingers crossed, released its 2011-12 schedule, and the Hawks’ is front-loaded with marquee foes. Following their opener on Nov. 2 at Minnesota, the Hawks would reintroduce themselves to the locals two days later against the Boston Celtics.
The second guest, on Nov. 9, is the supposedly resurgent New York Knicks. The fourth home date is Nov. 19, with the champion Dallas Mavericks dropping by.
The Miami Heat soon follow on Nov. 22, the runner-ups’ first of two visits in a short span. They circle back to town on Dec. 9.
Other alluring opponents come later: the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 7 and March 28, the Orlando Magic on Dec. 30 and April 13. Western Conference members invade just one each, with the Los Angeles Lakers arriving early (Dec. 17) and the Oklahoma City Thunder late (March 2).
The dearly departed Atlanta Thrashers, who often played Thanksgiving night games, will turn Philips Arena over to the Hawks that evening. The 76ers play the bad guys.