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Schedule Breakdown

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Here’s the in-depth breakdown of this year’s schedule, month by month.  A little analysis follows.

 

The “vs. Elite” category is versus the top eight teams in the league based on regular season record last year, which were:  Boston, Detroit, Orlando, Los Angeles L*kers, New Orleans, San Antonio, Houston, Phoenix, and Utah.

 

The “vs. Bottom Seven” category includes all teams with fewer than 30 wins last year:  Miami, New York, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Minnesota, Los Angeles Clippers, and Milwaukee.

 

October/November

 

Total Games:  18

vs. Playoff Teams:  10

vs. Elite:  10

vs. Bottom Seven:  4

vs. East:  5

vs. West  13

Away:  11  (7 vs. playoff teams)

Home:  7

Away Streaks:  One- 5 in a row (ORL, MIA, NOH, MIN, GSW)

Back-to-Back:  5 times

Four Games in Five Nights:  1 time

 

December

 

Total Games:  14

vs. Playoff Teams:  11

vs. Elite:  5

vs. Bottom Seven:  2

vs. East:  7

vs. West:  7

Away:  6  (5 vs. playoff teams)

Home:  8

Away Streaks:  One- 5 in a row  (DET, NYK, WAS, BOS, TOR)

Back-to-Back:  2 times

Four Games in Five Nights:  None

 

January

 

Total Games:  14

vs. Playoff Teams:  7

vs. Elite:  4

vs. Bottom Seven:  2

vs. East:  9

vs. West:  5

Away:  6  (2 vs. playoff teams)

Home:  8

Away Streaks:  One- 4 in a row  (CHI, PHI, NJN, CHA)

Back-to-Back:  1 time

Four Games in Five Nights:  None

 

February

 

Total Games:  12

vs. Playoff Teams:  5 

vs. Elite:  3

vs. Bottom Seven:  6

vs. East:  2

vs. West:  10

Away:  7  (4 vs. playoff teams)

Home:  5

Away Streaks:  None significant

Back-to-Back:  2 times

Four Games in Five Nights:  None

 

March

 

Total Games:  16

vs. Playoff Teams:  9

vs. Elite:  4

vs. Bottom Seven:  4

vs. East:  7

vs. West:   9

Away:  6  (3 vs. playoff teams)

Home:  10

Away Streaks:  One- 5 in a row  (ATL, MEM, IND, CLE, MIL)

Back-to-Back:  3 times

Four Games in Five Nights:  1 time

 

April

 

Total Games:  8

vs. Playoff Teams:  4

vs. Elite:  3

vs. Bottom Seven:  4

vs. East:  0

vs. West:  8

Away:  5  (2 vs. playoff teams)

Home:  3

Away Streaks:  One- 4 in a row  (OKC, HOU, MEM, SAS)

Back-to-Back:  2 times

Four Games in Five Nights:  1 time

 

 

Highest Percentage of Games vs. Playoff Teams:  December (11 of 14)

Highest Percentage of Games vs. Elite Teams:  October/November (10 of 18)

Highest Percentage of Games vs. Bottom Seven:  February (6 of 12) and April (4 of 8)

Longest Road Trip:  5 games, three times (October/November, December, and March)

Highest Percentage of Away Games:  October/November (11 of 18) and April (5 of 8)

Highest Percentage of Away Games vs. Playoff Teams:  December (5 of 6)

Total Back-to-Back Scenarios:  15

Total Four Games in Five Nights Scenarios:  3

 

 

Clearly October/November is the toughest month of the season from multiple perspectives.  We play elite teams 10 times in that span and only 19 times the entire rest of the season.  7 of our 11 away games are against elite teams.  We play more road games that month than in any other.  One-third of our back-to-back outings are in that month alone, plus one of our four-games-in-five-nights stretches.  It’s going to be a rough start to the season.

 

December gets somewhat better, although 11 of 14 total games are against last year’s playoff teams.  We face 5 of those playoff opponents on the road, the most of any month except the one prior.  We don’t have as many total road games nor do we face as many elite teams overall as we did in October/November.  We don’t get many bottom feeders either though.  The five-game swing including Detroit, Washington, Boston, and Toronto will be our toughest long trip of the year.  After the previous month this seems like a picnic, but in most years it would be considered a tough month.

 

In January things start looking up.  Only half the games are against playoff opponents.  Only a quarter are against elite opponents.  The home/away schedule is balanced too.  The longest road trip is four games, it contains only one modest playoff team, and there’s only one set of back-to-back games.  Only two road games total are against playoff teams.

 

February is even brighter.  Half of our games are against the bottom seven.  Only 3 of the 12 total are against elite teams.  The road trips are short…nothing grueling.

 

March brings the most home games of the season.  Half of the games are against middling opponents--neither great nor awful.  We have one long road trip and three back-to-backs.  If we’ve gained momentum in the new year this month will likely make or break us.

 

There’s no middle ground in April…it’s either very good opponents or lousy ones.  The only thing close to a tweener is Denver.  It’s reasonable to assume we’d have a hard time making up or losing ground in this month so it would be a good idea to be in the playoff seeding before it hits.

 

Basically, as we’ve all said, this year will be all about surviving the initial crap storm and then making the most out of the lighter schedule in the middle months.  We don’t have to come through December unscathed but we do have to come through with confidence and at least a few wins under our belts.  I’d say we need to find 12 or so wins before 2009 to be comfortable.

 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)