Over the last few seasons, the league has realized the damaging impacts of back-to-back games and heavy stretches. Last season they reduced back-to-back games and limited four-in-five-night sequences. Fans can rest easy now that the league backed up the start of the regular season by a full two weeks, shortening the preseason and extending the schedule.
The result is a dramatic decrease in back-to-back games. Teams will go from averaging 16.3 back-to-back games last season to 14.4 this season. The league has also outright eliminated those pesky stretches of four games over the span of five nights.
What are the tangible impacts the league is hoping for?
- Reduction in injuries, resulting in more star availability for marquee games
- Fresher players which last season contributed to one of the best individual offensive seasons in history
- No need for rest games, especially for nationally televised games (of which hardly any feature teams on a back-to-back)
The NBA is actively working to not only improve its players' health, but make the game more fun for fans.
Back-to-back games normalized
The NBA is trying to decrease stretches where teams play multiple games in a short period of time. Almost all teams will have between 14 and 15 back-to-back stretches this season. The Cavaliers, Lakers and Pelicans are some of the teams that have the minimum of 13, while the Jazz, Grizzlies and Kings have 16. But that differential is very slight, especially with the added rest built in.
Judging by the ratings, fans still can't get enough of the Warriors, which is why they're on national television a startling 43 times next season. That includes NBATV, but it's still a staggering number. The addition of the ABC Saturday Night primetime games a year ago inflates these numbers when compared historically, but it should be noted that in 2011, the Lakers were on ABC, ESPN, and TNT a total of 25 times.The Warriors will be on those networks 31 times this season.
In short, this is the most any team in NBA history will have been showcased to national TV audiences in the regular season. Get ready for a whole lot of nationally televised blowouts.
Big Baller Branded
The Lakers, as stated above, were on national TV a total of 29 times including NBATV in 2010-11, following back-to-back titles. In 2017-18, following the worst four-year stretch in franchise history, the Lakers will be nationally televised 35 times.
This is a team that finished 26-56 last season. Lonzo Ball will have to live up to the hype. He'd better not just be the runaway Rookie of the Year, but one of the best players in the league, or we're going to be seeing a whole lot of L's in the marquee games for the yellow and gold.
In related news, the New York Knicks, 31-51 last season, are on national TV 13 times.
Boston's tough start, gentle close
By the time the calendar reaches Nov. 17, the Celtics will have faced the Cavaliers, Spurs and Warriors. That's a tough start that also features games against the Bucks (twice), Raptors, and Thunder. It evens out in the back half of November, but it wouldn't be surprising if the C's get off to a tough start.
On the other hand, Boston finishes with three of their last four at home, games against Brooklyn, Atlanta and Chicago -- all lottery teams. They face mostly lottery teams from March 15 until the end of the season. That could help if they're in a fight for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference as many expect them to be.
Stunning of the Bulls
Chicago, one of the biggest markets in the league, has only five nationally televised games this season. That's going to be the fewest appearances for Dwyane Wade in a long time. And that's if he stays with the Bulls this season and isn't bought out or traded.
The Sixers have 23 nationally televised games. That's an awful lot for a perennial lottery team with young talent in a league where young teams rarely win, and a team headlined by multiple injury concerns.
OKC's rest bonus
The Thunder face the Warriors and Spurs twice in the final month of the season, along with a handful of other top teams like Boston. Those games being that late in the season increases the odds that they'll be resting, which could help OKC out considerably. You want to face either bottom-feeders or top-tier teams in that final month.
Final night madness
The Blazers, Wolves, Jazz, and Nuggets are expected to be in competition for the seventh and eighth seeds in the Western Conference next season. On the final night of the season, Portland plays Utah and the Nuggets face Minnesota.
Raptors get Western Conference-heavy start
Toronto has only five games against potential Eastern Conference playoff teams through Jan. 1. That's good in that they can get a leg-up on their conference record. It's bad in that it means they face San Antonio, Golden State, Memphis, and Houston in the first two months. Then they have to cram a bunch of important Eastern Conference games into a small amount of time.
For More: Here, (because everybody loves revenge), and the .