Around the League in 123 Days
You’ve been to the mall in December. That was me today. It was packed. Everyone was in a hurry. They were racing all around, popping in and out of stores, barely stopping to catch a breath and never holding still for more than a beat or two.
A relaxing day it wasn’t.
As hectic as that pace was today, and as worn out as I felt wandering out to my truck, that experience will seem like an afternoon at the library (not that I know what that is like) compared to what we’re about to encounter when the NBA season begins.
But, honestly, I’m a little strange. I really like the mall at Christmas. I’ve never minded the crowds, have no issue with the lines, and I enjoy watching when a couple of suburban moms drop the gloves and throw down in the parking lot outside Nordstrom over a spot that’s close to the door. I like it all.
So, it’s no surprise then that I can’t wait to tackle this nutty NBA schedule that’s just been released. You know the best part? I have no issue with it. I was all ready to get my shorts in a wad because we’d be starting the season far away from home and our plane would leave at 8am on Christmas morning (been there, done that, by the way).
Alas, no. I can live with this schedule. Mostly, I’m thrilled we’re having a season at all, so all of this is gravy. I also know that creating the NBA schedule, even when you’ve got months to do it, is not an easy job. So, I’m not going to bang on those dudes.
Right out of the chute in this 66-game schedule we’re slapped across the face. But, at least we’re at home, so it’s more of a love tap. It is, however, three games in four nights out of the box. But, the games are Philly, Sacramento, and Denver. That’s favorable. Philly gets the shaft, having to travel west on Christmas, the Kings will be a little more interesting, and half the Nuggets team is stuck behind the Bamboo Curtain. My point? It could be a lot worse.
Our first road trip starts New Year’s Day in L.A. when we play the Clippers. Duck fans, down there for the Rose Bowl the next day, come on over to Staples and watch your Blazers. From there it’s on to Oklahoma City (which is lovely this time of year). Nothing involving the Thunder will be fun for opponents this season, obviously.
Seven of the first 10 games of the season are home for the Blazers, is what I’m trying to say. After that start comes our first long trip of the season. It starts January 13th in San Antonio, and will then take us to Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, Toronto, and Detroit.
After that trip comes our first experience with the dreaded back-to-back-to-back that everyone has talked about. The 23rd, 24th, and 25th of January, we’ve got Sac and Memphis at home, and then Golden State on the road. As far as three in a row goes, I’ll take that.
The next trifecta comes just 10 days later, when we have Washington, @Golden State, and the Clips at home. Again, not as tough as it could be.
The folks in Orlando aren’t thrilled with how things will wrap around the all-star game this year, but hey, they’re getting an all-star game. The all-star break, for us anyway, will be eight days off. We play on the February 21st at home against the Spurs, and then don’t play again until the 29th at Denver.
March 9th we take off for the longest road trip of the season. It’s a 7-game jaunt that will take us to Minnesota, Boston, Washington, Indiana, New York, Chicago, and Oklahoma City. That won’t exactly be a day at the beach.
There are 14 games in April, which of course, is odd. And, five of the last six games of the regular season will be road games. The final three games of the season will away, at Memphis, San Antonio, and Utah. That’s not easy, and I hope we’re not in a position to have to win those final three games.
A couple of things stand out to me when looking over this schedule. There are 16 back-to-back games, and, as I said, two sets of back-to-back-to-back games. April is odd, but were really just three games added to the end of the month that weren’t there on the original schedule. In the last six weeks of the season the Blazers play just one team from the Eastern Conference. There are only 18 games against the east total.
Obviously, we’re not getting the usual home-and-home matchups against several of the teams from the east. Cities we won’t be visiting this season include Newark, Miami, Orlando, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Charlotte. Eastern teams that won’t be visiting Portland this season include New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, and Indiana. So, you won’t get to see Boston at the Rose Garden, but Miami will play in Portland on March 1st.
The Western Conference teams usually play each other four times, as you know. This year, however, we’ll play Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Denver, Phoenix, San Antonio, Minnesota, and the Lakers, only three times. The Lakers, play just once in Portland and that’s on January 5th. The defending-champion Mavericks visit Portland just once, on April 13th.
Every game will be available on television, but the broadcast schedule hasn’t been released yet. It’ll be available soon.
Both preseason games, Utah on December 19th and at Utah on December 21st will also be televised.
Here’s the way the schedule breaks out, month by month.
Your thoughts please.
13 @San Antonio
16 @New Orleans
25 @Golden State
10 @New Orleans
15 @Golden State
21 San Antonio
5 New Orleans
14 @New York
25 Golden State
29 New Orleans
4 New Jersey
11 Golden State
23 @San Antonio