Bits And Pieces Of The 2011-12 Schedule
I haven't had a whole lot of time to digest the team's 2011-12 schedule, thought that didn't stop Mike Rice and I from talking about it for an hour or so after the official announcement was made by the NBA. And though I haven't had a chance to dig into all of the minutia, I do have a few quick thoughts on how our 82 games shake out this season. Check out Mike Barrett's post
if you want a more detailed breakdown. I'm just giving you the broad strokes.
• We open the season at home against the Denver Nuggets, which should be interesting for obvious reasons. We then play the Nuggets again, six days later, in Denver. Personally, I'd prefer it if games against all opponents, but especially against those in your division, were a little more spaced out. I don't care for the idea that a tiebreaker against a team you'll likely be jockeying with for playoff position is largely decided within the first week of the season. We play Oklahoma City twice in ten days as well, but that's at the end of the season, which is a little easier to stomach, in my opinion.
• Two national TV games right from the jump is pretty cool, though I suppose that means the Mikes will be sitting out the home opener against the Nuggets since it's on TNT. And 14 nationally-televised games for the whole season is pretty good news, especially for those of you who don't get to watch as many games as we all would like.
• Having said that, the first two months of the season shake out fairly well for the Trail Blazers. Of the 27 games in November and December, only seven are against Western Conference teams that made the playoffs in 2010-11. There are also seven games in that stretch against teams from the East that made the playoffs last season, and two of those are against the Pacers, the only team last year that made the playoffs despite having a losing record.
And to top it off, there are only five back-to-backs in the first two months of the season, though I suppose you could argue that it's better to get back-to-backs out of the way early while legs are still fresh.
• What isn't fresh? Our schedule for January. Fifteen games in 25 nights. Five back-to-backs. Three divisional road games. A six-game, eight-night road trip with two back-to-backs. The trip itself is brutal, but arriving home from Chicago at 3 AM in the morning, having roughly 36 hours off in Portland before playing the Lakers in their only appearance at the Rose Garden this season, before getting back on the plane bound for Golden State to play the Warriors the next day? Harsh. January is the gauntlet of the season.
• Or maybe that honor goes to March, which features an average of one game every 1.76 days. Ten games against playoff teams. Two games against the Heat. At Boston. At Orlando. At Lakers. Only two back-to-backs us a nice reprieve, but we pay for it with a seven-game, 11-night road trip through the meat of the Eastern Conference. Usually trips that long go in one direction (as in, you start east and move west and vice versa) but not this humdinger of a roadie. East to Minneapolis, all the way east to Boston, northwest to Toronto, south to Cleveland, BACK east to New York, then way down south to Orlando and Miami before flying cross-country back to Portland. According to GoogleMaps, that's 9,000 miles as the car drives
. Then it's another 36 or so hours of rest before a home game against the Bucks. There's no "good time" to have a seven-game road trip, but having it in mid-March, right when the playoff race really starts to take shape and heat up, is bonkers. That's trip could make or break the season.
• It seems as though someone at the league office must have seen/heard my kvetching regarding our always playing in Denver on the second night of a back-to- back, as we don't have any such games this year. Both games in Denver this season are on the FIRST night of a back-to-back, but that ain't no thing, as the kids used to say.
• As for back-to-backs in general, we've got 18, down from 22 last year. Frankly, it's only fair that we have fewer back-to-backs than most teams considering the vicissitudes that go along with residing in the hinterlands of the NBA.
• Only having one home game against both the Lakers and the Mavericks is a bummer. On one hand, you have one fewer game against a team that is, in theory, superior, which is good. On the other hand, it makes the season series, and any subsequent tiebreakers, much harder to win. And there's also the matter of entertainment. We all know what games against the Lakers are like at the Rose Garden, and unfortunately we'll only have one of those (at least in the regular season). Getting two cracks at home against the defending world champs would be nice as well.
• On the flip side, only having one game against the Warriors in Oakland is nice considering we always seem to have a tough go of it in the Bay. Same goes for only one road game against the Hornets. Downside there is that I have, at best, one chance to hang in the Big Easy this season, which is not preferable. Bullet's Sports Bar be calling my name from the swamp.
• No Christmas Day game this year, which is nice for those of us who have to work game days. I know most of you enjoy being able to watch the team after opening presents, but missing out on Christmas with the family makes a long season feel even longer. We do, however, play on in Houston on December 31st, which means the team will get to ring in the New Year in Oklahoma City.