NBA: Compact schedule to be a battle of attrition
NEW YORK – The NBA has announced its compressed 66-game schedule, which will force every team to navigate demanding stretches at home and on the road that they would not normally endure in a full season.
Because of the lockout-shortened season, the Los Angeles Lakers are now scheduled to play games on the first three nights of the NBA season. Teams will have a total of 42 back-to-back-to-back sets.The Atlanta Hawks face one stretch where they play nine games in 12 nights, beginning with their December 27 opener.
The NBA’s 66th season begins with five games on Christmas Day, including the Lakers hosting the Chicago Bulls. Los Angeles then visits Sacramento the next night before returning home to host Utah on December 27.
The league kept its most storied rivalry going with the Lakers travelling to Boston for a February 9 contest. Boston has a stretch of eight road games in 13 nights in March with games on back-to-back nights at the Staples Center arena in Los Angeles against the Lakers and Clippers.
NBA finalists Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat also will play twice. They follow their Christmas Day opener with another contest on March 12. The Heat and Lakers also play two games against each other.
Philadelphia plays its first five games on the road, its longest season-opening trip ever as teams will play 48 conference games and 18 against the opposing conference.
The regular season is scheduled to conclude April 26 and the playoffs will open two nights later. The last possible date of the NBA finals is June 26.
The NBA faces the compressed schedule because of the owners and players union failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement in time to save the November 1 start to the season.
A tentative labour agreement was reached on November 26 and now lawyers for the owners and players are finalizing the details. Both sides are expected to vote on the deal Thursday before training camps and free agency opens on Friday.