Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011-12 Portland Trail Blazers Schedule Thoughts

This afternoon, the NBA announced the game and broadcast schedules for the 2011-12 season.  In all likelihood, creating these schedules was a colossal waste of NBA personnel time and money, seeing as a full season is highly improbable due to the chasm between the owners and players in negotiations during the current lockout.  Nonetheless, we can all live in the magic land of “what if we actually play all 82 games this year” and ponder the inevitable question of every summer: What does this year’s schedule have in store for us?

Below is how I break down the schedule every year and my initial thoughts for every part of that process.

Step 1:  Living in New York for the past few years, the first thing I do every summer when the schedule is released is look at the games I might be able to attend (NY, NJ, Philly, DC, and Boston) then determine whether the schedule gods have put those games on days I can afford to travel.  This is also the point where Josh and I decide whether we will brave our curse and go to games together.  The only game we go to regardless of the curse is the Knicks game, other than that, it depends on our success rate in watching games together prior to the east coast trip.

Thoughts:  The basketball gods are laughing at me by favorably scheduling every game I could potentially attend.  We all know once they revise the schedule for a late start I won’t be able to attend any of the games.  At least it will be fewer games for Josh and I to curse!

Step 2:  Next, I look to see how many home games take place when I will be visiting my family in Portland (this year over the winter holidays) to see how much I get to enjoy the Rose Garden atmosphere. 

Thoughts:  There are three games (Suns, Clippers, Knicks) when I will be home, which is not terrible for a week.  My biggest fear is flying west and missing the team entirely.  So seeing three sub-par teams, as I predict the three above teams will be, is better than no Blazers basketball.  At least I would get to see Nash one more time before he retires, evaluate with my own eyes whether the NBA has rightfully anointed Griffin the next freak superstar, and taunt the Knicks from home for once, instead of cheering in the minority from the world’s second greatest garden arena (Madison Square Garden).

Step 3:  Finally, I examine the substance of the schedule (home stands, road trips, back to backs, tough stretches, easy stretches, etc.) 

Thoughts:  This year’s schedule is a bit of an oddity.  We don’t have any long home stands (the longest is 4) and we have two ridiculously long road trips (6 and 7).  That being said, our seven game road trip (which includes the elite of the East—Boston, New York, Orlando, and Miami), comes after the all-star break when the Blazers have historically put everything together to make a strong finish.  Additionally, the Blazers play 11 of their last 16 games at home, an ideal way to finish the season.

Again, Portland has been given a large number (18) of back-to-back games.  When examining back-to-backs, it is important to look at which team we are playing in the second game of the set.  Unfortunately this year, our second night opponents are challenging.  Some potentially disturbing situations:
    • Seven of the back-to-backs are Home-Away back-to-backs, meaning the Blazers have to leave home and play somewhere else the next night, which can be unsettling. 
    • Both games at Utah are after tough home games (Suns and Spurs).
    •  Half our games against the Spurs are on second of back-to-backs and the other two are the first of back-to-backs.
    •  All three games against the Lakers are either the first or second game of a back-to-back.
    • Our sole home game against the Heat comes the night after playing a mile high.
What is your impression of the schedule?  Check it out under our “Schedule” tab on the top of the homepage and let us know what you think!


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