Timberwolves fans saddened by the departure of longtime point guard Ricky Rubio won’t have to wait long to see him again.
The Wolves’ home opener will be Friday, Oct. 20, at refurbished Target Center against Rubio and the Utah Jazz, the NBA announced Monday.
The Wolves open the 2017-18 NBA season at San Antonio at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, in a game carried on ESPN. That was revealed Thursday, as was the Wolves’ Christmas Day game against the Lakers in Los Angeles (9:30 p.m. on TNT).
The NBA is starting the 82-game regular season on Oct. 17, eight days earlier than it did in 2016-17, in an effort to space games out more. The Wolves still have 15 sets of back-to-back games, one more than last season, but no team is scheduled to play four games in five days.
Highlights of the rest of schedule include:
• A visit by NBA champion Golden State on Sunday, March 11, a game televised by ABC. That is the Warriors’ only regular-season game at Target Center.
• A visit by LeBron James and Cleveland on Jan. 8.
• New Wolves guard Jimmy Butler returns to play his former team in Chicago on Feb. 9, and the Bulls are at Target Center Feb. 24.
• Seven appearances on TNT, including two against the Lakers (the second is Feb. 15 at Target Center). The Wolves will also have TNT games at Houston (Jan. 18), at Golden State (Jan. 25), at Portland (March 1), vs. Boston (March 8) and at Denver (April 5).
• Nine scheduled ESPN appearances and eight games on NBA TV. The ESPN games are the season opener, Nov. 8 at Golden State, Dec. 6 at the L.A. Clippers, Jan. 10 vs. Oklahoma City, Jan. 14 vs. Portland, Feb. 7 at Cleveland, Feb. 9 at Chicago, Feb. 23 at Houston and March 2 at Utah.
• Among the Wolves’ back-to-backs, they play on New Year’s Eve at Indiana and on New Year’s Day at home against the Lakers.
• There are two five-game homestands and four three-game road trips.