|The normal NBA schedule is back. (Getty Images)|
We break down the best and the worst of the NBA schedule including the back-to-backs, easiest and worst stretches, and other notable things from the 2012-2013 schedule released Thursday.
- Your back-to-backs winners: Orlando (13), Oklahoma City (15), Miami (16), Dallas (16), Los Angeles Lakers (16). That's a bunch of West teams, you might notice. Miami actually had one of the heavier back-to-back schedules last year, so that, combined with the travel for national television appearances, likely played a role. I can only assume the Orlando number is a pity maneuver on the NBA's part.
- Your back-to-backs losers: Atlanta, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Indiana, Boston, Cleveland, and Minnesota all have 22. That's a lot of back-to-backs and that's a lot of East teams with a lot of back-to-backs. Washington, Houston,and the Clippers all have 21, additionally. That's a lot for Houston, with such a young team. Jeremy Lin's endurance is going to be tested. Boston's going to learn just whether or not it's an old team in a hurry with that many back-to-backs.
- The Heat's schedule is moderate to start, heavy in the middle, light at the end. Miami plays 10 of 12 on the road from mid-January to early February, and play 11 away games in March. They have a soft closing schedule, but if they're going to lose ground in the Eastern playoff race, it could happen in March.
- The Lakers' have an easy December to fatten their record sandwiched in-between some tough nationally televised games against OKC and the Knicks among others.
- The Lakers' Grammy road trip is from January 30th through February 10th, with seven games in the span. The Clippers go from January 30th through February 11th, with eight games in the span.
- Seven of the Wizards' first ten games are against playoff teams. Another rough start is likely for the Wizards, even with a more veteran team. They also play six of seven on the road to end March, so if they're hanging around late, that stretch could finish them.
- Denver's opening schedule is brutal. And by opening schedule, I mean the first full two months of the season. Between opening night and January 1st, the Nuggets play 22 of 32 on the road. That leaves just 19 road games for them from January 1st through the end of the season, though, so there's always a balance-out. If they can survive the start of the season, they've got a favorable set the rest of the way.
- The Sixers are set for another strong start and another tough finish, must like last season. 10 of their first 15 are at home, with 13 of their final 17 on the road. More importantly, though, is an eight-game homestand from late January through mid-Feburary, which can set up both a prolonged run to cement some playoff cushion for them, or could prevent them from making a trade because of an upswing in play.
- The Pacers get two of their three meetings with the Heat at home. That's a big development for them on multiple levels, including playoff tiebreakers.
- The Thunder get the first and last meeting with the Lakers at home, and travel to Staples for the middle two.
- The Celtics and Heat play four times, naturally splitting the home and away.