Since Adam Silver took over as NBA Commissioner after David Stern stepped down in 2014, I have to say that I have been pleasantly pleased with the actions he has been doing since he took over. Silver has shown that he can govern with an iron fist (ask former Clippers owner Donald Sterling) and at the same time listen to the fans and players o the National Basketball Association.
During the last few seasons fans were complaining that when they would spend their hard-earned money to see their favorite team and/or players, it would be very disappointing when the coach would sit said player(s) out to get some rest; or because the competition near the end of the season would seem to drop off because the players would get tired when they would log in multiple three-game stretches before they would see a break.
During the offseason, reducing the number of back-to-back games and four games in five days that NBA teams play was high on Commissioner Silver’s agenda.
Without extending the season by a week at the start or a week at the end, Silver made a dent in those numbers in an effort to reduce fatigue, wear-and-tear, including injuries, and increase the level of competition.
- Back-to-backs have been reduced to 17.8 per team for 2015-16, down from 19.3 last season, and no team has more than 20 back-to-backs this season.
- Long-distance back-to-backs have been trimmed from 111 last season to 85 this season; back-to-backs that cross a time zone have also been cut from 194 last season to 160 this season.
- Four games in five days have been reduced to .9 per team for 2015-16, down from 2.3 per team last season.
- The NBA reduced the number of miles traveled per team by 2%.
“We want to be mindful of putting the best product on the floor that we possibly can. The rigors of an NBA season are tough. Nobody denies that.”
The league made a serious dent in those four-games-in-five-days sets, cutting those from 70 last season to 27 this season – a 61% decrease.
How did the league do it without adding days to the regular season? Input from the NBA’s front office, teams and National Basketball Players Association; data-driven analysis; flexible arena dates; and help from TV partners ABC/ESPN and TNT helped the league draft a more palatable, player-friendly schedule.
“It’s quite a task,” VanDeWeghe said. “You have 30 teams playing 82 games, and you’ve got 162 playing dates to get all that in.”
The champion Golden State Warriors open the season at home against the New Orleans Pelicans, but there is a small price to pay for being the champs. Golden State is in high demand for TV appearances, and has one more back-to-back (20) than it did last season, and the Cleveland Cavaliers have one less (19) than they did last season.
The San Antonio Spurs benefitted from the approach to this season’s schedule. Last year, the Spurs had 21 back-to-backs and have 16 for 2015-16. And the Spurs are one of eight teams who do not play four games in five days. The others: Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Memphis Gizzlies.
Five teams, however, have two sets of four games in five days: Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets.
“We’re leaving no stone unturned, and everything is one the table,” VanDeWeghe said. “Adam is certainly open to looking at everything and is very sensitive to our players’ needs.”
Christmas day schedule: The holiday starts off with the New Orleans Pelicans visiting the Miami Heat at noon ET (ESPN). That game is followed by the hometown Chicago Bulls at the Oklahoma City Thunder (ABC), the centerpiece game will be the Finals matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers visiting the defending champion Golden State Warriors at 5pm ET (ABC). The late games are the San Antonio Spurs at the Houston Rockets (ESPN) and the LA Clippers at the LA Lakers (ESPN).