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Blog Entry

Breaking down the back-to-backs

Posted on: August 11, 2010 11:04 am
Edited on: August 11, 2010 11:08 am
 
Posted by Royce Young

Other than the fact that since it's August and we're all starved for NBA news, the schedule release typically doesn't have a ton of surprises. On the surface, all schedules are created equal with everyone having 41 home games and 41 road games. (Unless you're the Lakers and you get a couple extra home games when you go on the "road" to play the Clippers.)

But all schedules are not equal. Not in the slightest actually. Other than some teams getting contenders four times instead of three because of the way the scheduling rotation works and the fact the Clippers have a 10-game road trip (!), there's the issue of back-to-backs. And back-to-backs can take what looks to be an easy month and turn it into a 30-day grind.

The Bulls and Bucks lead the way with 23 back-to-backs. That's a bummer for the Bulls who had one of the highest totals in the league last season. For all you Laker haters, here's some more ammo: The champs only have 15, which is tied for the fewest in the league. The Suns have just 16 and the Thunder and Hawks have only 17.

Six teams have 22, six have 21, two have 20, six have 19 and four have 18. The full list:

1. Chicago - 23
2. Milwauke -  23
3. Charlotte - 22
4. Cleveland - 22
5. LA Clippers - 22
6. New Jersey - 22
7. Philadelphia - 22
8. Portland - 22
9. Detroit - 21
10. Houston - 21
11. Indiana - 21
12. Memphis - 21
13. New York - 21
14. Washington - 21
15. Dallas - 20
16. Orlando - 20
17. Boston - 19
18. Denver - 19
19. Miami - 19
20. Minnesota - 19
21. Toronto - 19
22. Utah - 19
23. Golden State - 18
24. New Orleans - 18
25. Sacramento - 18
26. San Antonio - 18
27. Atlanta - 17
28. Oklahoma City - 17
29. Phoenix - 16
30. LA Lakers - 15

One underrated angle on the back-to-backs is how many games a team gets against a team on the second night of a back-to-back. Phoenix has the most in the league with 15 games against teams that played the night before. The Suns are followed by Cleveland (10), Oklahoma City (10), Atlanta (10) and San Antonio (9).

The Lakers, who have the fewest back-to-backs in the league, only have four games against a team that played the night before. Sacramento has the fewest in the league with only one.

Related to that, the Bucks, Cavs, Celtics, Bobcats, Bulls, Grizzlies and Clippers all have four or more games against a team playing in its fourth game in five days with no rest. The Lakers, Suns, Warriors, Spurs and 76ers have zero such games.
 
And on the flip side of that, the Bobcats, Cavs, Bucks, 76ers and Wizards all have four games that are on the fourth game in five days with no rest. So clearly the league tried to even that out. You get some, you give some. A bunch of teams only have to do that once including the Suns, Thunder, Lakers and Heat.

Based on back-to-backs, days off and playing against unrested opponents, you could make a strong case that Oklahoma City and Phoenix have two of the most favorable schedules in the league. The Lakers, while having the fewest back-to-backs, also have one of the lowest amount of games against unrested opponents.

While the schedule is going to be unfair for some teams because that's just life, it's clear the league tried to even things out. Playing against a team that is coming in off a red eye flight and that played just 20 hours ago is a huge advantage. Probably even more than having a low number of back-to-back games.

But back-to-backs are just part of the schedule story. Who are the back-to-backs against? What about long road trips, days off and long home stands? In the end, it doesn't matter all that much. For the most part, the best teams win and the bad teams lose.

Info pulled from NBAStuffer.com
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