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Rockets Announce 2011-2012 Schedule -- 6 Things You Need to Know

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My excitement for the upcoming NBA season was moderately brimming before yesterday (due in large part to a $50 prop bet I placed a couple months ago on the season starting on or before Christmas -- CHA-CHING!), but two things happened yesterday.

First, I got a nice letter from NBA Commissioner David Stern thanking me for my patience during the lockout and promising me a very exciting upcoming NBA season. He even signed it with the colloquial "David" signature. (And while it was addressed "Dear Fans," I know ol' Dave was talking to me.)

Second, the NBA released its 2011-2012 schedule yesterday! So now we get actual context to the process of cramming 66 games into about 120 days, which is the calendar equivalent of trying to cram Albert Haynesworth into an adult large T-shirt.

If you don't have time to go through the Rockets' schedule with a fine-toothed comb, here are six things you need to know:

6. If you liked the Rockets' 0-5 start last season, you'll love what the league has in store for them this season! They open the season with seven of their first eight games against teams that made the playoffs last year, beginning with opening night (December 26) at Orlando and finishing with a pair of games against Oklahoma City on back-to-back nights.

5. Wedged in the middle of that stretch is the obligatory three-night, back-to-back-to-back stretch where the Rockets will play the Spurs at home on Thursday 12/29, fly to Atlanta for a Friday game with Memphis, and then come home Saturday for the traditional New Year's Eve home game, this year with the Atlanta Hawks. (Early wagering advice: Take the under on December 31.)

4. On the original 82-game schedule, the Rockets would have played the highest number of back-to-back stints in the league, 22 total. Somehow, on a schedule that is 16 games shorter, they now have 23 back-to-backs, 14 of those finishing on the road. Perhaps as a give-back from the league, the Rockets will face opponents who are tired and hungover on the second night of a back-to-back 27 times, the second-most in the league.

3. If you're a fan of going to Toyota Center to watch other superstars from around the league, then you will be disappointed. The Miami Heat (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade), Chicago Bulls (Derrick Rose), Orlando Magic (Dwight Howard), Boston Celtics (KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce) and Cleveland Cavaliers (Anderson Varejão....just kidding) are all "one road game only" opponents for the Rockets. (Silver lining: If you're a fan of going to the Toyota Center to watch the Rockets, you know, WIN, then this schedule is fairly friendly, omission of the Cavs notwithstanding.) 2. If you're wondering when the first episode of Wife Swap, NBA Style -- Kevin McHale and Rick Adelman both facing their former teams -- takes place, mark down January 30! (And yes, in the Wife Swap metaphor, this makes Hasheem Thabeet the "lazy kid who nearly drives his new mom batshit crazy" on the show.)

1. Seven scheduled NBA-TV simulcasts -- that's the extent of the Rockets' national television schedule this season. Basically, their national television schedule is one cut above streaming games off of Justin.tv. Kevin Martin apparently doesn't carry a lot of weight with John Q. Public.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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