NBA / Dec 5, 2011 / 1:00 pm

Why A Condensed NBA Schedule Poses A Threat To Veteran Teams

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce (photo. Celtics.com)

Throughout the NBA lockout, David Stern said repeatedly that he and the owners would be willing to lose the season if that is what it took to get what they deemed to be a “fair” deal. While those claims by Stern would most likely have come to fruition if the two sides didn’t come to a last-minute agreement, once a deal was in place, Stern wanted to maximize the number of games played this season. It was announced that the NBA would have a 66-game season this year stretching from Christmas Day until the end of April.

During a regular NBA season, teams usually open their training camps sometime during the last week of September. They then play about six or seven preseason games throughout the month of October before opening the regular season at the end of the month. This month between when training camp opens and when games begin allows players to get in game shape and prepare for the rigors of an 82-game schedule. However, this year there will be just over two weeks between the start of training camp and Opening Day. At this point most of the players are not close to game shape, and many may be simply out of shape – and having two weeks to get players ready for a season is just simply not enough time. Their bodies will struggle to adjust that quickly, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see some sloppy basketball in the first few weeks.

While the limited training camp time is a concern for the players, the biggest test they will face is the sheer number of games they will have to play in a condensed period of time. Every team in the NBA will have to play a back-to-back-to-back set at some point this season, and according to a tweet from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday night, “One league official says there are seven NBA teams that have two stretches of five games in six nights this season.”

Playing that type of schedule will be brutal, even for some of the world’s best athletes. Most teams look sluggish on the second day of a back-to-back, so imagine how exhausting it will be for teams to play three games in a row, or five games in six days. I think the condensed schedule provides a huge advantage to younger teams this season, and teams with a small window to win a championship (Boston, San Antonio, and Dallas come to mind) will be significantly disadvantaged when compared to younger squads.

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  • http://www.dimemag.com Aron Phillips

    With this in mind, I hope Jeff Green agrees to a qualifying offer in Boston.

  • jon

    I dont see how this is a huge problem because 90% of them grew up playing 3-4 games a day during aau so 1 game a day over 3 days is not that bad especially at home if it was away that would suck lol


    C”Mon Man, that is in their bloods, their founding fathers were slaves. They should be used to hard work but this time they are getting PAID.

  • stefan

    lol @BRUCE

    after reading this article I have the impression that this season might turn out to more fun than a normal one. it’s true that younger teams will have an edge on the likes of celtics and spurs so we might see a change towards college style of play. I could see the thunder playing the mavs full court after halftime and winning by 30…

  • Buddahfan

    Playing five games in six days is also tough on the team’s announcers LOL

    How about season ticket holders, if those five games in six days are at home?

    What about the older refs?

    Sponsors on TV also loose out with over exposure.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    Good piece, Marks. I was thinking before that the shorter schedule would obviously benefit teams like San Antonio and Boston because (1) less games means less wear-and-tear, and (2) they’re veteran teams that don’t need as much time to gel, but you made me look at another angle I hadn’t considered.

  • http://www.stateoftheceltics.com Ryan Desmarais

    Another thing to consider is that a team like Boston, with only six players currently under contract, will have to bring in more veterans to solidify their roster. That means more practice time will be needed in order for them to get comfortable in the system. If you combine the consolidation of games with the practices that will be needed in order to form some sense of cohesion, you get a lot of older Celtics who will have some tired legs and won’t get the necessary time off in order to recover from bumps, bruises or possibly something even more serious.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Aron Phillips

    It’s interesting that Lamond Murray actually has this to say:

    “Back in 1998, we saw the veteran teams are always the ones that do best in the shortened season, because they’re better equipped, they stayed ready, they know each other’s games. So it’s an easier adjustment for them than for teams that are rebuilding.”

    I do agree that rebuilding teams – whether they’re young or old – are at a significant disadvantage, as well as teams with new coaches. For example, no one is talking about the learning curve in L.A. with new head coach Mike Brown.

  • karmatic

    many nba athletes in their late 30s are producing at unheard of rates, back to back games or no. many nba athletes in their early 20s are in turrible shape, and hacking up furballs after 6 minutes without a tv timeout. a compressed 66 game season, with a fair distribution of back to backs (look real close, and i’m sure there will be some scheduling winners and losers), will favor the teams in the best shape that go 10 players deep every night, and coaches who don’t play anyone more than 30-35 minutes a night.

  • First & Foremost

    Hold up… I swear I wrote this entire article in a comment section. And I digress…

    All the NBA did was spread 1 month of games throughout the remaining schedule. This will benefit deeper and/or younger teams. With that being said, F*** being clutch. Knowing you had 2 days of rest, a team could try to mount a double digit comeback. Now, huge leads in the 3rd quarter will wrap a game up. No coach would be willing to go all out just to TRY to win a game, then have to fly out for another 2 games in 3 nights. It will be interesting to see how SA & Boston pick and choose games.

    Mon-Pacers; Tues-Bulls; Thur-Pistons. Do you play the Pacers tough, let the bulls have 1 and then go after the pistons? Do you rest vs the Pacers, try to steal one from the bulls, and the hope to recover for the pistons? How many days of rest will each team be on when we play them? Did they have to travel?

    Let us enjoy these chess matches.

  • First & Foremost

    Do you risk trading players? Look at Jeff Green, it took him forever and a day to get comfortable in Boston. If you have a complex system, do you waste your time trying to incorporate a player when he will ahve very little practice time?

  • H-man

    Good piece, especially the last paragraph. I totally agree that it will be much more difficult for teams to be “nonchalant” during the regular season with such a compressed schedule, to the NBA fan’s benefit.