Nets schedule: Is NBA hinting Kevin Durant’s return date?

The Nets will have more national television games this season than they had in the last five years combined. And they’ll come with more subplots and melodrama than a telenovela.

Arguably the biggest takeaway may just be that the Nets have climbed up the NBA food chain from invisible to must-see. They’ll be on national TV 20 times: Six on ESPN, six more on TNT and eight on NBA TV. They had just one national game last year — on NBA TV — after being shut out altogether the previous three seasons.

Kyrie Irving — whose stay with the Celtics was highly scrutinized, and departure was highly criticized — returns to Boston the night before Thanksgiving. Celtics GM Danny Ainge has gone out of his way to frame the All-Star point guard as the villain in this story, and the Nov. 27 tilt will be the latest juicy chapter. Expect plenty of boos.

Both of Brooklyn’s games against Golden State are fairly late in the slate, which will lend itself to plenty of speculation whether the league thinks Kevin Durant might return this season. The Nets host the Warriors — and former guard D’Angelo Russell, whom they dealt away for Durant — on Feb. 5, before going to San Francisco on March 12.

It’s worth noting the last five notable players to rupture their Achilles took an average of 280 days to come back. In the case of Durant — who ruptured his in Game 5 of the NBA Finals — that would be March 18. Hmm …

The Nets got shut out of Christmas Day for the sixth straight year. The Nets open at home versus Minnesota on Oct. 23 and host the Knicks two days later. The Knicks play at Brooklyn on Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. on TNT, while the Nets face Philadelphia in a playoff rematch on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 20), the league’s other marquee date.

Even after Ringling Bros. went out of business, the Nets have had some brutal road trips, including a seven-game, 17-day trek in last year’s stretch run. But next season the longest trip is a manageable nine-day, five-game trip Nov. 8-16. They don’t have more than nine road games in any month, also in November.

Oct. 23 vs. Timberwolves, 7:30
Oct. 25 vs. Knicks, 7:30
Oct. 27 at Grizzlies, 6:00
Oct. 30 vs. Pacers, 7:30
Nov. 1 vs. Rockets, 7:00
Nov. 2 at Pistons, 7:00
Nov. 4 vs. Pelicans, 7:30
Nov. 8 at Trail Blazers, 10:00
Nov. 10 at Suns, 8:00
Nov. 12 at Jazz, 9:00
Nov. 14 at Nuggets, 10:30
Nov. 16 at Bulls, 6:00
Nov. 18 vs. Pacers, 7:30
Nov. 20 vs. Hornets, 7:30
Nov. 22 vs. Kings, 7:30
Nov. 24 at Knicks, 6:00
Nov. 25 at Cavaliers, 7:00
Nov. 27 at Celtics, 7:00
Nov. 29 vs. Celtics, 12:00
Dec. 1 vs. Heat, 3:00
Dec. 4 at Hawks, 7:30
Dec. 6 at Hornets, 7:00
Dec. 8 vs. Nuggets, 3:00
Dec. 11 vs. Hornets, 7:30
Dec. 14 at Raptors, 7:30
Dec. 15 vs. 76ers, 6:00
Dec. 17 at Pelicans, 8:00
Dec. 19 at Spurs, 8:30
Dec. 21 vs. Hawks, 6:00
Dec. 26 vs. Knicks, 8:00
Dec. 28 at Rockets, 8:00
Dec. 30 at Timberwolves, 8:00
Jan. 2 at Mavericks, 8:30
Jan. 4 vs. Raptors, 6:00
Jan. 6 at Magic, 7:00
Jan. 7 vs. Thunder, 7:30
Jan. 10 vs. Heat, 7:30
Jan. 12 vs. Hawks, 6:00
Jan. 14 vs. Jazz, 7:30
Jan. 15 at 76ers, 7:00
Jan. 18 vs. Bucks, 6:00
Jan. 20 vs. 76ers, 3:00
Jan. 23 vs. Lakers, 8:00
Jan. 25 at Pistons, 7:00
Jan. 26 at Knicks, 6:00
Jan. 29 vs. Pistons, 7:30
Jan. 31 vs. Bulls, 7:30
Feb. 1 at Wizards, 7:30
Feb. 3 vs. Suns, 7:30
Feb. 5 vs. Warriors, 7:30
Feb. 8 at Raptors, 7:30
Feb. 10 at Pacers, 7:00
Feb. 12 vs. Raptors, 7:30
Feb. 20 at 76ers, 8:00
Feb. 22 at Hornets, 7:00
Feb. 24 vs. Magic, 7:30
Feb. 26 at Wizards, 7:00
Feb. 28 at Hawks, 7:30
Feb. 29 at Heat, 7:30
March 3 at Celtics, 7:30
March 4 vs. Grizzlies, 7:30
March 6 vs. Spurs, 7:30
March 8 vs. Bulls, 3:00
March 10 at Lakers, 10:30
March 12 at Warriors, 10:30
March 13 at Clippers, 10:30
March 15 at Kings, 9:00
March 18 vs. Wizards, 7:30
March 21 vs. Celtics, 6:00
March 23 vs. Magic. 7:30
March 25 vs. Clippers, 7:00
March 27 at Magic, 7:00
March 28 vs. Cavaliers, 6:00
March 30 vs. Trail Blazers, 7:30
April 1 vs. Pistons, 7:30
April 3 at Pacers, 7:00
April 5 vs. Mavericks, 6:00
April 7 at Thunder, 8:00
April 9 at Bucks, 8:00
April 11 at Bulls, 8:00
April 13 at Cavaliers, 7:00
April 15 vs. Bucks, 7:30