Lessons from the Schedule

ESPN's Chris Sheridan has a thorough rundown of some of the best NBA games on the 2009-2010 schedule. My favorite line:

Oct 29: San Antonio at Chicago (TNT)
Richard Jefferson is expected to attend, wearing black. If he changes his mind, expect to be notified by e-mail.

Here at TrueHoop, we have been poring over the schedule and have noticed various things:

  • Jeremy from Roundball Mining Company was alarmed to see that his Nuggets were playing 22 back-to-backs. Sounds like a lot, right? Dan from Piston Powered and Brett from Queen City Hoops pointed out the Pistons and Bobcats, respectively, each play 23 back-to-backs. As do the Bulls! (The Bobcats also have three instances where they'll fly home from a road game and play, before their home crowd, against a rested opponent.) Last season no team had more than 22 sets of back-to-back games (Atlanta, Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Sacramento) had the honors while Dallas and Golden State had the fewest with 15. The Bobcats have two sets of back-to-back home games, which are very rare. Only two teams, the Spurs and Hornets, have fewer than 18 back-to-backs. (After the jump below, a list back-to-back totals for every team.)

  • HowlinTWolf points out that the Timberwolves will be well poised to look really good in January and February. Just eight of their 28 opponents over that stretch had winning records last year.

  • As the Timberwolves start shining, the Knicks could start sliding. Mike from KnickerBlogger writes that March looks tough. "They start off in Cleveland. By March 10th, they go on a big road trip (Spurs, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Sixers and Celtics). After three home games (76ers, Rockets, Nuggets), they hit the road again for another five-game trip that goes into April (the Suns, Jazz, Blazers, Warriors and Clippers).

  • The Pistons will be working in new players and trying to find an identity. But it won't be easy at first. Feldman points out that Detroit has nine of its first 14 games on the road, and on November 17 they start a six-day trip to play at the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Jazz and Suns.

  • Arsenalist of Raptors Republic points out that the Raptors don't have a single road-trip longer than four games: "Seeing how we usually end up going 1-6 or these Western swings, it's best that we've minimized the damage to a maximum of four games."

  • Carey Smith of Philadunkia reports: "The Sixers will have completed nearly half their road schedule (19 games) by January 3."

  • Jared of Eight Points Nine Seconds points out the Pacers have "a brutal five nights from March 2-6, at the Lakers, Blazers, Nuggets and Suns."

  • Bret of Hoopinion points out a stealthy gift to the Hawks at the end of the season: "Despite playing five of eight April games on the road, the Hawks could catch a break at the end of the season should they need to make a push for a better playoff seed. Games 76-81 are Detroit, at Charlotte, at Detroit, Toronto, at Washington, and at Milwaukee (none of whom appear certain playoff teams at this writing) and Game #82 is at home against Cleveland who could view that game as an opportunity to rest players before the playoffs."

  • You may think of the Rockets and Blazers as roughly equal -- the Rockets beat the Blazers in six games in the opening round of last year's playoffs and nearly knocked off the champion Lakers. But they have since lost Ron Artest to the Lakers and Yao Ming to foot surgery. In the minds of schedule makers, these two teams are not equal at all. Portland will be on TNT, ESPN or ABC a combined 17 times. As Sheridan pointed the Rockets not be on those networks at all. (Meanwhile the Clippers will be on ESPN, ABC or TNT eight times.) By the way, the Rockets and Blazers play each other on the first day of the season in Portland, and four days later in Houston.

Keep reading for a list of how many back-to-backs every team has this season:

The NBA was nice enough to provide this breakdown of how many pairs of back-to-back games each team has.

  • Charlotte Bobcats 23

  • Chicago Bulls 23

  • Detroit Pistons 23

  • Atlanta Hawks 22

  • Indiana Pacers 22

  • Houston Rockets 22

  • L.A. Clippers 22

  • Denver Nuggets 22

  • Milwaukee Bucks 22

  • Toronto Raptors 21

  • New Jersey Nets 21

  • Washington Wizards 21

  • Philadelphia 76ers 20

  • Memphis Grizzlies 20

  • L.A. Lakers 20

  • Golden State Warriors20

  • Sacramento Kings 20

  • Minnesota Timberwolves 20

  • Dallas Mavericks 20

  • Phoenix Suns 20

  • Orlando Magic 19

  • Utah Jazz 19

  • Portland Trail Blazers 19

  • New York Knicks 18

  • Boston Celtics 18

  • Miami Heat 18

  • Cleveland Cavaliers 18

  • Oklahoma City Thunder 18

  • San Antonio Spurs 17

  • New Orleans Hornets 16