The AT&T Center will serve as a "mega-vote center" to allow for social distancing during the November election.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment are seeking new naming rights for the AT&T Center when the partnership ends in 2022. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The Spurs will have to adapt to life without all-time great Tim Duncan in a huge hurry.

Their very first game without the recently retired big man who led them to five NBA titles in his 19 seasons will be against the reigning Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors, a team that last month landed All-NBA superstar forward Kevin Durant, the undisputed No. 1 prize of free agency.

The Oct. 25 regular season opener will be played at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where the Warriors lost only two games last season. The Warriors won an NBA record 73 games but lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. It will be televised nationally by the TNT network, one of 22 Spurs games scheduled for national telecasts by the league’s TV partners, ABC-TV, TNT and ESPN.

The 2015-16 Spurs, who compiled the leagues’ second-best record, a franchise record of 67-15, won only one of four games against the Warriors, a 112-101 victory at AT&T Center on April 7.

Durant, the four-time NBA scoring champion and 2013-14 regular season Most Valuable Player, led the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs before bolting Oklahoma City for Golden State after a dramatic series of “recruitment” meetings in New York with selected teams, including the Spurs.

The Spurs will play a second road game, an Oct. 27 contest against the Sacramento Kings, before they play their first home game, an Oct. 29 date against the New Orleans Pelicans at AT&T Center.

As they did so often during the Duncan era, the Spurs also will play on Christmas Day, this time taking on the Chicago Bulls at home. The Spurs now feature former Bulls star Pau Gasol, who signed with them after averaging 16.5 points per game and 11.0 rebounds for Chicago last season. It will be the first of four Spurs games televised by ABC-TV, the league’s major network carrier.

Other highlights of the Spurs schedule , released by the NBA on Thursday afternoon, include a Jan. 14 game against the Phoenix Suns at Mexico City Arena, part of the league’s Global Games initiative. That game was announced on July 20. They will meet the defending champion Cavaliers for the first time on Jan. 21, in Cleveland. They will host the Cavaliers on March 27.

2016-2017 San Antonio Spurs Schedule. Courtesy image.
2016-2017 San Antonio Spurs Schedule. Courtesy image.

This season’s rodeo road trip, annually the longest road trip of the season, will be an eight-game grind sandwiched around All-Star Week. It will begin with a Feb. 6 game against theMemphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum, and conclude with a Feb. 26 game against the Lakers at Staples Center. In between will be games in Philadelphia, Detroit, New York City (against the Knicks), Indianapolis, Orlando and a game against the Los Angeles Clippers, also at Staples Center.

This year’s All-Star Game is scheduled for Feb. 19 at a venue yet to be named. The league pulled the game out of Charlotte, N.C., on July 21 because of North Carolina laws that target members of the LGBT community. New Orleans has emerged as a likely replacement as host city.

Just as the Spurs open the regular season with two road games they will end it with two games away from home. They are to meet the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on April 10 and conclude the season on April 12 in Salt Lake City, with a game against the Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Eight of their previous 10 games, however, will be played at AT&T Center.

The Spurs will also play six pre-season games, beginning with an Oct. 3 game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. The first chance for Spurs fans to see the new lineup against an NBA opponent at AT&T Center will be on Oct. 8, when they play the Atlanta Hawks in the first of three pre-season games scheduled for their home arena.

They are to play the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Oct. 10 and the Orlando Magic, at Amway Center, on Oct. 12. The pre-season scheduled will conclude with two more games at AT&T Center: against the Miami Heat, on Oct. 15; and against the Houston Rockets, on Oct. 21.

Top Image: The AT&T Center after Game 2 of the NBA Finals June 8, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.

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Mike Monroe

Mike Monroe is a longtime, award-winning NBA and Spurs reporter who recently retired from the Express-News and is now contributing to the Rivard Report.