February 05, 2009
I don't doubt that, in a calendar year, the most remarkable thing about the NBA is that it churns out a schedule every season that goes almost without a hitch, in relative terms.
Think about it. The NBA may have half as many games as baseball, but those baseball stadiums aren't co-tenants with rock bands, hockey teams, circuses, rodeos or ice shows. Not only that, this is a one-and-done situation. A team flies into play the hometown club, and flies out. No four-game stands, here.
And then think about all the people that the NBA schedule makers have to keep happy, from the litany of organizations listed above, to fans, franchises, players, networks, and dyspeptic observers like me, always looking for a quirk or perceived failure to jump on.
There has to be no harder task in this league, and I mean that. Every summer, the schedule makers throw out a 52-point, 10(ish)-rebound, 11-assist game at the Garden. Some summers, they average 62 points per game at the Garden. Their work is that tough.
But this week, we've seen some real failures. Not perceived ones, real ones.
It starts with San Antonio having to play in Oakland one night, regardless of the outcome of the game (a Spurs win in OT), then jetting to Denver, losing an hour, playing in thin air, and taking on the Nuggets 22 hours later. Talk about a scheduled loss. Warriors play by play man Bob Fitzgerald went off on this screwup last night, and he was spot on in every regard as usual. Put it this way, there's a reason the league didn't fine the Spurs for sitting Tony Parker and Tim Duncan on Tuesday.
Minnesota playing in Minneapolis a day after playing in Indianapolis? That's the NBA preparing you to fail.
And tonight, we get the worst of it. It's not as bad a misstep as the Spurs schedule, but given the implications and the amount of fans that will be tuning in, this is much worse. Scheduling the Lakers to play the Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back is just criminal.
The defending conference champions get to play each other twice a year, and you do NOT schedule a game for either of them the night before either re-match. You just don't do it.
Doesn't matter the proximity, the level of opponent, or if one of the teams gets to return to play at home for the second game. Don't do it. The fact that the road team had to play pretty far away in Toronto, to through customs, and then show up for tonight's rematch just makes it so much worse.
As far as actual analysis, well, you'll have to tune into tonight's BDL live blog. I will say this, all things being equal (with Andrew Bynum around, both teams having a fair bit of rest), I always have to go with the Celtics in this situation (at home), and still with them in a seven-game series.
The deciding factor? Boston's offense, though flawed at times, is still partially better than Los Angeles' (though sometimes-flawed) defense. Still, that's a small distinction. That's the sort of distinction that leads to seven games series. Can't wait.
I'm off to go yell at a calendar.
Boston Celtics: 41-9, 90.6 possessions per game (17th), 110.9 points scored per 100 possessions (5th), 100.2 points allowed per 100 possessions (1st).
Los Angeles Lakers: 39-9, 94.6 possessions per game (4th), 114.6 points scored per 100 possessions (1st), 105.4 points allowed per 100 possessions (7th).