In Denver, Trail Blazers Got Back-To-Back
By caseyholdahl Posted in: Nuggets, Blazers
During the post-game show that followed Tuesday night's 95-77 loss to the Nuggets in Denver, Nate McMillan made a statement that piqued my interests, as it was something that I had noticed throughout the years as well.
"It was a tough game last night," said McMillan in answering a question regarding Tuesday's loss being on the second night of a back-to-back. "The travel tonight and coming in here, it is always tough. It seems every time we come here it is a back-to-back."
It was McMillan's last sentence that got be thinking. I had always thought, at least anecdotally, that we always seemed to draw the Nuggets in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back. I wasn't sure if it was just one of those things that felt like it was real though it actually wasn't, which typifies roughly 90 percent of the hunches that I have. So I decided to check out the schedules from the past 10 years to figure out if Nate's declaration and my hunch were valid.
Turns out, Nate and I are right. Over the past 10 seasons (including the game against Denver last night and the upcoming contest on Feb. 2 in Denver) the Trail Blazers have played half of their games at the Pepsi Center on the second night of a back to back. I know next to nothing about the ins and outs of schedule making, but playing 10 of 20 games on the second night of a back-to-back seems like a lot to me.
There have been reprieves. During the 2006-07 and 2004-05 seasons, the Trail Blazers were spared from having to play in the thin Denver air on the second night of a back-to-back. But every other year since the 2001-02 season, the Trail Blazers have been subjected to at least one game on the tail end of the back-to-back in the Mile High. And in 2002-03 and 2010-11 (that this season, by the way) BOTH games in Denver came (or in this case, will come) on the second night of a back-to-back. That's borderline criminal.
This may be a NBA scheduling norm that I'm not aware of, but it certainly seems like an competitive disadvantage for the Trail Blazers, and an unnecessary one at that, especially considering it's against a divisional foe. Looking at a few other teams in the division, it seems like the Jazz often times play their games in Portland on the second night of a back-to-back, but it's no where near half the time. And Portland is basically at sea level, not 5,280 feet, which is the reported elevation on a sign that greets you at the entrance of the Pepsi Center.
Would it be too much to ask the NBA to give us a break on this one? We already have to travel farther than any other team in the league, can't they at least make some kind of concession on back-to-backs in Denver? Maybe give us a few years without a second night back-to-back in the Mile High? Heck, I'd settle for starting a back-to-back in Denver and finishing it in Utah, or Minnesota, or Oklahoma City. There's got to be some solution, because playing half your road games against a division rival on the second night of a back-to-back while huffing and puffing on the thinnest air in the NBA is unfair, period.