Hawks announce 2011-12 schedule -- assuming season starts on time

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ATLANTA -- Two of the Eastern Conference's top teams will tangle in a nationally-televised game Nov. 4 as the Atlanta Hawks host the Boston Celtics at Philips Arena in the Hawks' home opener, two nights after the Hawks travel to Minneapolis to meet the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2011-12 season opener Nov. 2. This news comes Tuesday as the Hawks and the NBA announced the 2011-12 regular season schedule.

Of course, for any of this to happen, first the NBA lockout has to end.

The Atlanta-Boston game is the first of seven national broadcasts on ESPN, with a total of 12 national TV opportunities for the season, as NBATv will televise four Hawks games and TNT will feature the team on Thanksgiving for the third year in a row (Nov. 24 vs. Philadelphia).

The Hawks will be tested early as nine of their first 13 games will be against 2011 playoff teams, highlighted by a Nov. 19 contest at home against the current NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. They also have road games against both of their playoff opponents from a year ago during the month -- the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 5, and the team they eliminated in the opening round of competition, the Orlando Magic, on Nov. 13.

The Magic will make the first of their two appearances in Atlanta on Dec. 30, followed by a Friday the 13th special in April. Chicago is the Hawks' first home opponent of the new year, rolling into town Jan. 7, and returning again March 28.

The Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat will appear at Philips on Dec. 9 and April 4, while the always popular contest against the Los Angeles Lakers will take place before the Christmas holidays Dec. 17.

This year's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday game is scheduled for Jan. 16 against Toronto at 4 p.m.

The 41-game home schedule is highlighted by 20 weekend dates -- with 11 games on Fridays, eight on Saturdays and one on a Sunday: Dec. 4 vs. Charlotte. Atlanta will play four straight at Philips Arena between Dec. 17-23, and six consecutive road games from March 3-13. The Hawks' busiest month of competition comes in March when Atlanta plays 17 games, and they will close out the season with six of the final 10 games on the road.

The majority of Hawks home games will start at 7:30 p.m., with Saturday starts set for 7 p.m. (the only Sunday matchup of the year is at 2 p.m.).

Atlanta Hawks 2011-12 lower level season tickets are available now starting at less than $23 per game. Also, back by popular demand, Hawks fans will once again be able to customize partial season ticket packages by building their own Flex plan.

Individual regular season game tickets will go on sale at a later date, and the 2011 preseason and local TV schedules should be released in the coming weeks.