Since the players and owners can't be bothered to have a legitimate negotiation until August, there's really not a whole lot going on in the NBA these days. We might as well waste some time analyzing the schedule that was released yesterday, even if the odds are against the season playing out that way.
Last season, Doug Collins made a point of talking about how tough the Sixers schedule was a number of times. Well, apparently Collins carries some weight around the league, because this year, the Sixers didn't get jobbed. Here's a quick look at the key points in the schedule for the Sixers, the rest of the Atlantic Division and a couple of the marquee teams:
The 9-game trip is the annual Ice Capades sojourn, so there isn't much the league can do about that, but in the other areas, the Sixers measure up pretty well with the other teams. Their three homestands of 5 or more games is three more than they had all of last season. If there's one thing to be concerned about, it's their three-months stretch from January through March. Check out how many back-to-backs they're playing in that stretch (back-to-backs by month):
- November: 2
- December: 1
- January: 5
- February: 4
- March: 5
- April: 2
Quick note, last season the Sixers had 11 back-to-backs in November and December, they only have three this season.
It's always been my personal feeling that playing the second night of a back-to-back at home is an added burden. It basically takes away the home court advantage, especially when you're playing against a well-rested team. Only 6 of the Sixers 19 back-to-backs fall in that category. Last season, 8 of their 22 back-to-backs featured the ass end at home.
The first stretch of note takes place in November, the week of Thanksgiving. On Sunday, the 20th the Sixers will travel to Miami to face the Heat, then two nights later they'll be in Dallas to face the defending champs.
Looking at this schedule, it's really a shame the Sixers probably won't get a chance to play it. Their early-season schedule allows for much more practice time than years past. That, plus the fact that they'd be in their second year of this system, with the same coach and no tumultuous roster changes (most likely) should help them avoid their typical slow start, or at least mitigate it. I said it on Twitter yesterday, and I haven't changed my mind. With minimal changes to the roster, they could win 50 games with this schedule. Gotta love the lockout.