Time To Make Plans
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.