Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Basketball is back: Hectic schedule awaits teams

We have basketball and we have lots of it.

That's the first thing to take from the new schedule released by the NBA on Tuesday, detailing the schedules for all 30 teams.

There are some very scary stretches for all, and every single player will have their fitness and endurance tested to breaking point and beyond by the vast number of games shoehorned into the next four months.

The once-dreaded back-to-back set of game will become standard fare for teams this year and the nightmarish back-to-back-to-back run of games can be found at least once in every team's calender. Four games in five nights and even nine games in twelve will happen more often than not and there will be almost no nights without some sort of basketball being played somewhere.

Let's take a look at some of the quirks of this incredibly compressed and inevitably chaotic schedule:

Chicago's ridiculous road-trip: Every November, the Bulls play a handful of home games then embark on their "Circus trip" of seven straight games on the road due to the annual Circus held in their home arena. This time around, they will play a staggering nine consecutive road games lasting from Jan. 29 into February.

Boston's tiring March: Boston are a team that will receive a lot of focus this year. How does an old team cope with a packed schedule? Does experience outweigh the negative aspects? Their biggest test without a doubt comes in March where they play 9 of 10 on the road including two stops in Los Angeles, one in New York and another in Miami. With the end of the regular season in sight, this could make or break the Celtics' playoff aspirations.

Lakers' fast start: The Lakers start on Christmas Day with a home game against the Bulls. They hardly get a chance to take a breath as they then have to take on games against Sacramento and Utah on the two days immediately after, making up L.A's only triple-header. This will quite quickly identify those players who failed to stay in shape this summer.

Miami's stay in Cleveland: The Heat will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers and then have a two-day break. What do they do? Their next game is in Indiana, so flying all the way back to Florida and back for that is pretty pointless. Do they really want to have LeBron spending that time walking the streets of Cleveland?

Bulls' run: The Bulls have one of the tougher opening halves of the season. They play seven of their first nine away from Chicago and 20 of their first 30 to boot. To compound the tiredness factor, those first 30 games will take place over just 50 nights. Good job this is a relatively young team. To counter this difficult start, their post-All Star schedule is very favourable to an end of season surge. They have just one trip to the West of more than one game and only a couple of back-to-back games.

This season is going to see some frustrating, sloppy and tired basketball. But it's basketball nonetheless. I for one am happy to be writing about these teams playing silly amounts of games instead of talking about people with lots of money arguing like children trying to get lots more money.

And a note for those who predicted that the Lockout (oops, I said it again...) would hurt the NBA. Doesn't look so true judging by the rampant anticipation of what could be the most frantic NBA season in history.

Play ball!

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