Yesterday, the NBA released its schedule, and everyone rushed to talk about when the big games are happening (Christmas) and where (Miami). But who got the easiest rides, and who got screwed?
The NBA is a more or less predictable league, less sensitive to forces outside of "This is the best team" than other sports' top levels. Even still, with the schedule just a day old, it would be dumb to go into which teams play the toughest opponents, since injuries or trades or awful seasons can happen. But you can look at how the schedule itself is constructed and see which teams play on the shortest rest, which have the longest, and how the back-to-backs shake out.
Let's start with the back-to-backs. NBA Stuffer has a good schedule analysis tool you can use to check all the scheduling quirks, but it isn't updated with this year's schedule yet. (You can, however, download the full schedule in an Excel file.)
We do know that the back-to-backs are more evenly distributed this year than last, with just one team (the Pistons) having 22 back-to-backs, and six with 21 (Nuggets, Hawks, Hornets, Spurs, 76ers, and Bucks). The Heat and Lakers each have 16 back-to-backs, and the Magic, Pacers, Mavericks, and Kings have 17. Everyone else is packed in at 18, 19, or 20.
Beyond that, you'd want to look at four-games-in-five-nights, the three-games-in-four-nights, and all the other permutations (some 3-in-4s have the day of rest after one game, others after two games). But if you lump them together and compare dynamically, you get something like what our friend Rockets Analyst Ed Kupfer did here, with these charts showing which teams play opponents who are more rested, less rested, or evenly rested. They're broken into total, home, and away games:
Ed also put together a chart of Which teams will play the most games with an opponent on the second night of a back-to-back:
Overall, OKC and the Clippers look like they're pretty boned, while the Bucks, Wolves, and Jazz are getting off more or less scot-free. We'll let you know when the detailed version of this year's analysis is out, though.
And Ed is one of the best NBA follows, so you should get him in your feed if you haven't yet.
Top Image: Doug Benc / Getty Images Sport