Jul 26

Time To Make Plans

By mikebarrett

There is a point in every offseason when all the talk stops being about last year, and starts being about this year.  Perhaps we’ve already crossed that period this summer, but for me, the biggest page flips when the NBA schedule for the upcoming season is released.

Now you start thinking about matchups and road trips, and tough months, big road trips, and long home stands.  You start looking at key dates, back-to-back games, when your team is catching key rivals, and when you’ll be measured against the elite teams.

First of all, it’s so nice to be looking at a complete 82-game schedule, compared to last season’s 66-game campaign that started after Christmas for the Trail Blazers.  It also reminds you that it’s a long, long season.  

One trademark of past schedules for the Blazers (excluding last year’s) is that they usually start road heavy, and end home heavy.  It looks like we’re back to something like that with the ’12-’13 schedule.  

The Trail Blazers will open at home and will do it in grand style, against the Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and the L.A. Lakers.  That happens Halloween night at the Rose Garden, and Blazer fans certainly hope history holds in this series, because what immediately follows is a brutal stretch for a young team.  

The Trail Blazers will play 12 of their first 19 games on the road.  The day after the opening-night game against the Lakers, we’ll head for Oklahoma City, to take on the defending Western Conference champs.  The very next night the Blazers will take on the Rockets in Houston, followed by a game in Dallas.  Not exactly an easy three-game trip off the top.

Following that ugly trip the Blazers get a three-game home stand, and that won’t be a day at the beach, as they host the Clippers, San Antonio, and Atlanta.

The season’s longest road trip comes near the end of November, and starts in Brooklyn on November 25th.  It’s a seven-game monster, that’ll have the Blazers also at Detroit, Washington, Boston, Cleveland, Charlotte, and Indiana.

The season’s longest home stand follows that seven-game road trip, but five of the six games will be against Western Conference opponents.

The Blazers will be home for Christmas (that’s my kids you hear cheering in the background), but the team won’t play on Christmas Day.  Sacramento is in town on the 26th.

We’ll arrive in Manhattan on New Year’s Eve (nothing going on there on that night), and take on the Knicks at MSG on New Year’s Day.  That kicks off a four-game trip that’ll have us also in Toronto, Memphis, and Minnesota.

The first matchup of the season against the defending champs, the Miami Heat, comes on January 10th at the Rose Garden.

Another long road trip of six games comes in early February.  The Blazers will visit Minnesota, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Miami, and New Orleans.  The All-Star break will begin for Portland after that trip ends.

The month of March will see the Blazers play 16 games at home (same as January), but also holds some difficult road tests.  Portland has a three-game trip to Memphis, San Antonio, and New Orleans, and later in March has a five-game trip which includes stops in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta, and Oklahoma City.  

After that five-game trip the Blazers will play 8 of their final 12 games at the Rose Garden.  That stretch is broken up by two separate two-game trips.  They’ve got a Golden State-Utah back to back, and a trip to Denver and a game against the Clippers in L.A., before finishing the regular season against Golden State at the Rose Garden on April 17th.

This year’s schedule hands the Trail Blazers 17 sets of back-to-back games.  Eight of those will be road-road sets, with five home-road sets, and four road-home sets.  

The Trail Blazers will also play nine Saturday-night home games this season, which is nice.

One other thing that’s always interesting is the Western Conference teams Portland will only play three times.  There are four teams that fall into that category.  Golden State and New Orleans will only visit the Rose Garden once.  The Blazers will only visit Phoenix and San Antonio one time each.

I also look at things a little differently than most fans, being I actually experience the travel and the road games and know firsthand how difficult certain trips can be.   I don’t see any wacky trips that will be particularly taxing for one reason or another.  It seems like we always get stuck playing the second of back-to-back games at Denver or Phoenix, which are very challenging because of the distance.  There aren’t any of those this season, and that’s a positive.  Really, because of our geographical challenges, any of the home-road back-to-back sets are tough.  But, this season the second of those sets include Sacramento (twice), Golden State (twice), and the Clippers.  Just because of the travel, not changing time zones, and getting into a hotel at 1 a.m. vs. 3 a.m., that’s huge.  

I always try and come up with some thoughts immediately following the release of the schedule, and perhaps measure it against schedules from recent years.  I suppose in short, I don’t hate this schedule.  Does that make sense?  It’s obviously going to be very difficult early, but we’re used to that.

We’ve talked so much about the many phases of an offseason, and this one has been busier than most in Blazerland.  The releasing of the schedule (which you can view here) is just another step, but certainly gets us in full anticipation mode.  
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  1. Thanks for your quick analysis of the schedule. I had not seen it yet so am grateful for your report. I'm really looking forward to this season and expect a more exciting brand of BB to watch!! GO BLAZERS!

    by dockaren on 7/26/2012 3:47 PM
  2. I think Joe Freeman had the best thought on the start of the season; "In his first 6 NBA games, @Dame_Lillard will square off against Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Tony Parker. #welcometothenba"

    by Richard Ackerman on 7/26/2012 4:08 PM
  3. MB, i always marvel how quickly you come up with your analysis of the schedule in like under an hour -- every year! it's almost like you get a leaked schedule prior when it's actually announced!

    iike you, there are always things i look for when a new slate of games is revealed. my eyes usually scroll down to feb. 27 to see if and whom we play on my birthday. this year we host the Nuggets. i'm good with that. last year we were still in the all-star break and two years ago we got whipped by the hawks in our own building. i trust this year things will go much better. my hope is that Meyers is in the starting lineup by then, and starting to show the BlazerNation why he's our center of the future. i say we win that one for me and Meyers as we not only share the birthday, but were born on the exact same day!

    i haven't examined the rest of the schedule for family birthday games, which i likely will for my own blog, but i can tell you i'm looking forward to opening night since it falls on the sweet 16 of my sister, Angi (think you've seen her around here a few times!).

    Richard makes an interesting point above that Damian is going tto have a rude entrance to nba regular season. then again, those guys are going to have to deal with him as well. we can only hope he's ready and takes it to them. meanwhile, i'm not all that worried about the Hornets and the Unibrow (who may have one OR two brows by then -- hard to say!). i'm sure LaMarcus will supply him with a wonderful welcome to the league!

    i suppose we could have had more back-to-backs, but we could have had less. at some point, there's no doubt i'll do a PDX-big market comparison of back-to-backs, but i haven't even printed this darn thing out yet! at least we don't have any of those shortened season triple-backs like last season. i'm concerned about those two road trips. on the other hand, the seem to include some of what we may consider to be lesser competition on both of those trips so maybe it eventually will balance itself out.

    overall i figure what's going to happen will happen. all we can do now, like you said, is circle the dates and make our plans.

    thanks for the quick analysis!

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 7/26/2012 5:02 PM
  4. Lillard is definitely going into the fire right away. I can't remember the last time we had our first game against LA. It's going to be brutal, and one hell of a test for our new guys, but I think we are up to it. RIP CITY!!!

    by newellbrian on 7/26/2012 6:31 PM
  5. I noticed a few things about the schedule when I was just looking at it. The first thing is we have eight total games on TNT and ESPN and seven of them are at home. The second is that we have six games scheduled to be on NBATV and all six of those are at home. I am a little disappointed that we only have 14 nationally televised games, but it is great that 13 of those are at home. My sister told me that we could get another game or two on NBATV if the league does their Tuesday night game vote like they did last year. I love that opening night is on my birthday and at home. I hope we can win it.

    by Angi on 7/26/2012 7:03 PM
  6. Beat LA! Beat LA,,,

    by Antonio Deras on 7/26/2012 7:36 PM
  7. Guys, I am from Brazil and will make my dream come true next year when I will be in Portland for 2 home games of our beloved Blazers, probably against OKC and LAL in April. However, the single tickets are not available yet. Do you know when it will be and if I buy it where I can pick it up?
    Thanks in advance.
    Go blazers!

    by Brazilian Blazer on 7/27/2012 10:35 AM
  8. The shape of the schedule is familiar enough; we get tested hard early and get our easier stretches late. And it just so happens that the expected shape of a season for a young team that has made a lot of changes is that we'd struggle early and get it together late. So the roller coaster may take a big plunge before it starts going up again. It seems to me that the key to a decent season will be having a coach who can get the team ready out of the gate so we don't fall too far early, and who can also keep the mood positive during the hard early times. If those things happen we could have one of those seasons where expectations turn pessimistic early, but excitement builds down the stretch when we start winning a lot more games. A worst case scenario has the guys getting discouraged by early losses so that they stop playing as a team. I don't really expect that, unless the new coach fails badly, but I can see our expected late-season surge undermined by the fact that our college kids and new Europeans haven't played this many games before. I'd hate to see physical and mental fatigue undercut the season right when it should start getting fun. But I think I'll enjoy watching these guys grow together no matter what happens. This is the kind of team I like to watch, full of guys who have the chance to show us more the longer the season goes on.

    by David Maclaine on 7/27/2012 11:41 AM
  9. What I like about the upcoming year is the expectations are not distorted. We have one allstar. A couple glue guys and a bench full of rookies to the NBA.
    It is good that we start the season playing quality competition and on the road. We will win some games that should be losses. We will lose some games that should be wins. When we add it up at the end we should be about 500.
    What I am hoping for the most is nothing more than sprained ankles and 3 days of stomach flu.
    I hear Kaleb is still in the running for head coach. I hope that doesn't happen. I like the guy. He is valuable and has a lot to offer but I don't think he is ready for prime time. I say bring in a veteran coach for Kaleb to study under. I also feel LMA and Batum would thrive under a new system.
    I'm out. Thanks Mike.

    by Divotking on 7/27/2012 3:07 PM
  10. It is way too early to get into wins and losses, but I agree Divotking, we will win some we should lose and lose some we shout win. Right now I am not sure what game we are supposed to win. I think with everybody that new on the team a simple offense designed to keep everybody involved is all we need. A fast tempo and a good D and rebounding is Kaleb’s game, so he would be as good as other assistant coaches, IMO.

    Mental and Physical fatigue happens to all players of all experience. They will learn to conserve when they can and give it hell when the want to.

    Our major weaknesses last year was losing away games, not boxing out for rebounds, playing bad exterior D, scoring from the perimeter and finishing games. I feel for a while we will still lose most of our away games because the young players just doesn’t see the difference in home crowd referring. Opps did I say a bad word or what. After a few games through, I think we will start to get a few wins on the road.
    I think our over-all D will be much better; I think Lillard will be our strong finisher and give us outside and dribble drives to the basket that will open the game up, Yes I know I was on the Marshall band wagon, but I go where the Blazer go. Therefore I think we will surprise many teams this year. After all we are the Blazers and fight well when we are underdogs.
    Miss Kassandra, I am expecting a full diary of how much you agree with my wonderful assessment of next year. LMAO ☺

    by Hg on 7/27/2012 3:35 PM
  11. One good thing I noticed right off the bat is that the Lakers open in LA playing against the Mavs. Then, they hop on a plane and come to face us for our season opener! YIPPEE! Can't wait to get back in my seats with my fellow season ticket holder friends, cheering on OUR guys! GO BLAZERS!

    by Pamela Porter on 7/27/2012 10:13 PM
  12. P.S. to Kassandra: I meant to mention that, like you, I look for any game being played on my birthday, which is January 10th. This year we'll be playing the Champions, Miami Heat. Really looking forward to getting a year older for that! Hopefully, our guys will be giving me the very best gift ever! :-)

    by Pamela Porter on 7/27/2012 10:38 PM
  13. @Pamela Porter:
    That was Angi that is having a birthday on Halloween night; she is Kassandra's little sis so it easy to make that mistake.

    Her birthday being on Halloween night, we surely can hope she is the friendly good witch of the North and will put a wonderful spell on the Blazers for the entire year if they win on her birthday; OTOH, Kassandra, when provoked becomes LeBrona the Prianha, which could be considered the wicked witch of the north, so LAL, best not tick her off or she will put them in exile for the rest of the year; And I best shut up or they both will put the wrath of Hell on me☺

    by Hg on 7/28/2012 3:36 AM
  14. Thanks for the sweet response, Hg. Perhaps I misread, but I understood Kassandra's post to read that we were hosting the Nuggets on her birthday, which is 2/27. Anyway, it's always great to get to go to a game on one's birthday, and oftentimes they do play at home on mine. I feel there's a little extra chance of a victory, just for me! Have a great weekend everybody~

    by Pamela Porter on 7/28/2012 12:02 PM
  15. @Brazilian Blazer: Nice to know there's another Blazermaniac from Brazil \o/

    And even more nice to know thar you are going to Portland to watch some Home games... Hope you have a nice travel and enjoy a lot!!

    On another note: I'm really liking this team... I could only hope that we had Roy Hibbert on our roster, that would be incredibly good!! But our roster is what it is (there's lil time for more transactions, still), and I like the roster right now. I'm hoping we can make 6-7-8th seed or so... I KNOW we can, with some hustle and effort and synergy.


    by Tiago Torigoe on 7/28/2012 1:24 PM
  16. Hey Pamela Porter: That was my bad as Kassandra did announce playing Denver on her birthday. As my birthday is New Years Eve, I have to wait until the new year to watch PDX jump on Raymond Felton.

    by Hg on 7/28/2012 1:42 PM
  17. I might go to a game a day after my birthday against the Phoenix on the 22nd of December. That will be a good game to go to. Do you think this is a good game to go to?

    by DamianLilard on 7/28/2012 3:22 PM
  18. Ifn u's DamianLilard, you best go to all of them LMAO.

    by Hg on 7/28/2012 5:27 PM
  19. @Tiago Torigoe Thanks pal. I must decide which games I am gonna watch, hopefully we can get 1 W out of it.

    by Brazilian Blazer on 7/28/2012 8:27 PM
  20. Well i am a huge Blazers fan and only been to 1 game in my life, and me and my counsin are the biggest fan in our family. we both like to tease who will we beat this year. so i am hoping my parent get me a tickets to go one of the blazers game. i hope it against the phoenix sun.

    by DamianLilard on 7/30/2012 12:07 PM
  21. Hi ,MB, good stuuff as always.Missed you guys , my business has kept me away from my fav blog for quite some time. I love summer bloggers.this is the true fans live.I have a little time off due to some surgery
    I think this team is going to keep Fans excited no matter what the schedule.The rooks,The wild cards,...Then LaMarcus,Nick,alll the new faces.Can't remember this much change team wide. I'm psyched as always,....Hi ,old friends HG,Kass,Welcome new ones.Hopefully ,I'll find tickets to a game this year.Blessed to be a Blazer fan.... BlazersROCK

    by DowntownVinnie on 8/7/2012 12:43 AM
  22. I think team has one common thread this year.....Lots of Hungry players who each have something to prove .I think the Fans here will bring out the best in those players ,Too......IS the Rhino still on the roster?

    by DowntownVinnie on 8/7/2012 12:14 PM
  23. TS hired. One more piece in place.

    by Divotking on 8/7/2012 7:32 PM
  24. @Brazilian Blazer our single game tickets go on Sale Oct. 1, however our ticket packages are on sale now. http://www.nba.com/blazers/tickets/packages.html Let me know if any of these options interest you! I can send you more information on our availability and interest-free payment plan. ashley.ohollaren@trailblazers.com
    @Pamela Porter Thanks for your continued support as a Trail Blazers Season Ticket Holder :)
    @DowntownVinnie Let me know which game date(s) that interest you this season and I'll take care of you! Appreciate your support!
    Hit me up for all of your ticket needs this season... ashley.ohollaren@trailblazers.com

    by AshleyJoy11 on 8/9/2012 8:51 AM
  25. @Pamela: you read correctly. my birthday is on feb. 27 when we play the Nuggets at home. oct 31 is Angi's birthday (halloween baby!) when we play the lakers at home.

    @Hg: haven't heard the LeBrona comment in a while ... always love that. i suspect your comment is the reason DTV -- the one who coined that -- came out of hiding.

    @Vinnie: welcome back, buddy. you can't be aol from us so long. we get worried! i hope all is well!

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 8/10/2012 11:54 PM
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