If any further proof is needed the Washington Wizards are now part of the conversation regarding the NBA's most exciting up-and-coming teams, look no further than the 2014-15 schedule. The Wizards will play 10 nationally televised games, including a coveted Christmas Day matchup against the New York Knicks at noon at Madison Square Garden.
The last time Washington played on Christmas Day was in 2008, when they faced the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road.
The Wizards will open the 2014-15 season on the road, facing the revamped Miami Heat Oct. 29, and the rebuilding Orlando Magic Oct. 30. The home opener is Nov. 1, when the Wizards will host the Milwaukee Bucks.
A few of the marquee home games to take note of include a visit from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Nov. 21 and Feb. 20; Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls Dec. 23 and Jan. 9; and the Philadelphia 76ers in the traditional Martin Luther King Day matinee Jan. 19.
From the Western Conference, the Wizards will host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers Dec. 3, Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers Dec. 12, and James Harden and the Houston Rockets March 29. The defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs will visit Verizon Center Jan. 13, and reigning league MVP, and Washington D.C area native Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder will visit Jan. 21.
Washington's final home game of the season will be April 12 against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Wizards finished the 2013-14 season with a record of 44-38, and qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2008. Washington made it to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, losing to the Indiana Pacers, 4-2.
The Eastern Conference finalists from the 2013-14 season, the Heat and the Pacers, will both have decidedly different looks this season. The Pacers lost guard Lance Stephenson to the Charlotte Hornets, and guard Paul George is expected to miss the entire season while he recovers from a broken leg he suffered while playing for Team USA.
The Heat lost forward LeBron James, who dominated the offseason headlines with his dramatic return home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the East undergoing such a dramatic shift in the balance of power, the Wizards just might have a chance to make guard John Wall's wishfully stated travel plans a reality for the 2014-15 season -- with a trip to the Eastern Conference finals.