November 28, 2011
In a normal NBA season, the preseason is a necessary evil, a time when teams can charge their fans way too much for inconsequential games between players hoping to work out the kinks and not get injured. There are still exciting plays, but they're not close to the real thing. It'd be easier if no one had to pay much attention to them.
Luckily, the lockout has ensured that preseason games will be even less notable than usual. According to John Schuhmann at NBA.com, each team will play just two exhibitions before the start of the regular season (via PBT):
Before the season begins, you can expect teams to play just two preseason games during that 16-day training camp. Expect, as well, for those games to be played between the teams closest to each other on the map.
There you have it: The Warriors will probably play the Kings twice, the Knicks will face the Nets, and the Trail Blazers will go up to Seattle because everyone forgot the teams closest to them are in California and Utah. Hey, give them a break: It's been a long lockout.
It's tempting to say that the preseason will mean much more now that there are only two games, especially considering free agents will have little time to adjust to their new teams and all players will have to reacclimate themselves to the experience of playing in NBA arenas. On the other hand, players still don't want to injure themselves going all out in meaningless games, and two contests are way too few for everyone to work everything out before the regular season. There's no getting around it: Teams are not going to be prepared for the regular season as they would usually expect. It's no use pretending otherwise -- better to accept the reality and make due as best they can.
Even in a shortened form, the preseason is probably going to be just as silly and inconsequential as ever. Playing just two games only emphasizes how silly the whole operation is in a normal season. If we're lucky, the league will realize how little people care and shorten the exhibition slate forever.
Plus, I hear owners don't even need the extra money anymore. Congratulations, guys!