For the fourth year in a row, the Wizards will open the regular season on the road, this time Oct. 28 at the Orlando Magic and then two days later at the Milwaukee Bucks in the first game of a back-to-back before their home opener vs. the New York Knicks on Halloween at Verizon Center.
All three have strong opponents have strong local ties, too. The Magic have Victor Oladipo, 2013 lottery pick from DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md.; the Bucks made a major step forward by luring Georgetown big man Greg Monroe in free agency; and the Knicks recently signed Kevin Seraphin, a backup center who spent his first five seasons in Washington. Also, Jerian Grant was drafted by the Wizards at No. 19 and then traded (twice) before ending up with the Knicks.
Unlike last season, when the Wizards had a soft schedule to open the season which led to a 22-8 start, they'll be tested early. Between home games vs. the San Antonio Spurs (Nov. 4) and Oklahoma City Thunder (Nov. 10), the Wizards will see the Atlanta Hawks (Nov. 7), who eliminated them in the conference semifinals of last season's playoffs.
The Kevin Durant-to-D.C. speculation will be in full gear early with the Thunder, who will be fighting to retain their superstar who becomes a free agent next summer.
National TV: Only half (five) of what the Wizards were scheduled for at this point last year. All take place in the second half of the season, with Feb. 3 vs. the NBA champion Golden State Warriors being the first. Their second meeting March 29 also is national with games vs. Knicks (Feb. 9), Chicago Bulls (Feb. 24) and Cleveland Cavaliers (March 4) in between.
Holidays: The Wizards will not play on Christmas Day like last season when they were at the Knicks. But they'll host the Magic on New Year's Day and the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 18, MLK Day.
LeBron sightings: The East champion Cavs will host the Wizards on Dec. 1. They'll meet again in D.C. on Jan. 6 and Feb. 28 and a final time in Cleveland on March 4.
Reunion: After one season, Paul Pierce left to the L.A. Clippers to finish out his career. He's back here Dec. 28. The Wizards visit the Clippers on April 3.
Back-to-backs: The are 19 of them, with 10 being Friday-Saturday games.
Bundling: How many times do the Wizards have four games in five days? Once (Nov. 24-28), with back-to-backs wrapped around an off day for Thanksgiving.
Biggest switch: Of 16 games in December, 11 will be vs. Western Conference teams which was much different than a year ago. The Wizards will have wrapped up season series with the Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks before the calendar year ends.
Travel time: The Wizards don't have any road trips longer than two games until Dec. 11 when they have a four-game stretch at the New Orleans Pelicans, Mavericks, Grizzlies and Spurs. Of their 30 games before Jan. 1, they're even split home-and-away (15-15). Their next stretch of more than two consecutive games on the road doesn't come until March 8-12 (three) and 27-30 (three).
Closing out: Fourteen of the Wizards' last 23 games are on the road against teams such as the Cavs, Blazers, Hawks, Warriors and Clippers. And the home games aren't exactly walks in the park with the Bulls, Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons -- the latter three missing last season's playoffs but retooled to compete. The Wizards better take care of business early, or finishing strong against this lot may prove to be incredibly difficult if these teams also are playing for something.