Hoping for a Season: Analyzing the 2011-2012 Schedule

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Published: July 22, 2011

In an expression of fantastic optimism in the face of a lockout and stalled labor negotiations, the NBA released its 2011-2012 schedule earlier this week. Joe, of course, has detailed in depth the fact that our team is only interesting to national networks when Blake Griffin is also playing – or right around the trade deadline and the Hornets are conveniently in New York for the Chris Paul trade speculation extravaganza!

Yay.

Anyways, I figured I’d match the NBA’s optimistic gesture with one of my own, and I’ll break down the entire schedule, month by month, and then give a prediction for the team’s record that month. Amazing that I can do that with only five players under contract with the Hornets, isn’t it? Well that’s how I be.

November

My knee-jerk reaction is that this looks like a brutal month. Four of the first six games are not only against great teams, but they are against the top two seeds in each conference from last season. It’s a cringe-worthy stretch, and I’d be ecstatic to walk away from it simply 3-3. However, once you get past those first games, the rest of the month isn’t so bad, even with a five game-road trip that kicks of in Orlando.(since when do they schedule road trips that commence in Florida, and then cross the country to bounce around the Rockies?) On Thanksgiving, the Hornets are honored with their first nationally as they take on the Clippers and the Amazing Mr. Griffin.

I do find it interesting that this is the first time I can remember that the Hornets don’t open their season on the road. That’s nice.

Difficulty Level: Moderate
Number of Games: 14
Number of games against ’11 Playoff teams: 6
Number of road games: 8
Number of Back to Backs: 3
Prediction: 8-6

December

While the second half of November was pretty nice and easy, the Hornets get their real first stretch of easy games in December. And I mean this month is maybe the easiest I’ve ever seen scheduled. 13 games over 31 days is a light schedule. Only five games are against teams that were good last year, and none of those games are that daunting.(No Dallas, I’m still not scared of you. As long as Jason Kidd or Jose Juan Barea are trying to guard Chris Paul, I’m fine) Combine that with only one back to back, and I give this month a difficulty rating of:

Difficulty Level: Easy like the cast of True Blood
Number of Games: 13
Number of games against ’11 Playoff teams: 5
Number of road games: 7
Number of Back to Backs: 1
Prediction: 9-4

January

In the new year, the Hornets schedule starts to pick up again, but it hardly hits fifth gear – or even fourth gear, really. Though the Hornets face 10 playoff teams from the previous year, they have only four road games all month, and a pair of back to backs. More than half of those games are against lower playoff seeds. So I stamp the month of January with the “Moderate” tag.

Difficulty Level: Moderate
Number of Games: 14
Number of games against ’11 Playoff teams: 10
Number of road games: 4
Number of Back to Backs: 2
Prediction: 9-5

February

February seems to be an average month at first glance, but then you realize that in a short month the Hornets have jammed in 14 games – and that’s ignoring the fact that there’s a six-day stretch for the All-Star break that’s taken out of the schedule. So, essentially, the Hornets play 14 games in 23 days. That’s a pretty tough pace, even if the quality of opponents isn’t tremendous. Oh, and on February 17th, the Hornets visit New York, just a scant week and a half before the trade deadline. That will probably trigger a media frenzy about Chris Paul, making me foul tempered and irritated. Therefore, due to the frantic pace and expected stupid rumors, I rank this month as:

Difficulty Level: Annoying
Number of Games: 14
Number of games against ’11 Playoff teams: 8
Number of road games: 8
Number of Back to Backs: 3
Prediction: 8-6

March

Every year, I get to March, and I realize that the NBA just hates the Hornets and the third month of the year. It always seems like I write this article and say “March will be the make or break month . . . ” Well, guess what? March will be the make or break month for the Hornets. 17 games! 10 on the road! FIVE back to backs! 8 games against playoff teams. Boston on the second night of a back to back. Easy games like the one against Minnesota scheduled at the end of a road trip on the second night of a back to back. It’s pretty hellacious.

Difficulty Level: WTF, NBA?
Number of Games: 17
Number of games against ’11 Playoff teams: 8
Number of road games: 10
Number of Back to Backs: 5
Prediction: 7-10

April

The NBA isn’t stupid. they try to set up the end of the schedule so that it’s closes with big intra-division games. This year is no differrent, as the Hornets close out the season with games against Memphis twice and Houston – the two teams right below them in the standings last year. Clearly, the NBA is hoping for some seeding drama there. Happily, the rest of the month isn’t so bad, with plenty of perfectly winnable games down the stretch. The Hornets should be able to keep pace with the teams around them and lock in their seeding with little difficulty.

Difficulty Level: Reasonable
Number of Games: 10
Number of games against ’11 Playoff teams: 6
Number of road games: 4
Number of Back to Backs: 2
Prediction: 6-4

In case you guys are keeping score, I just predicted 47 wins. Let’s hope we get a few more pieces that makes me feel we’re scarier than that.

3 comments
MelDee
MelDee

thanks for the schedule. you broke it down like sookie stackhouse in a vampire's nest.

Patrick Clay
Patrick Clay

I really like the analysis. However, IIRC, the Hornets opened last season at home also with a game against the Bucks

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

"Easy like the cast of True Blood"- Yes. As for why March (or late feb) is generally so hard, it might have something to do with the team not being able to be in town for Mardi Gras. They always ship them on a road trip that time of the year. Although, that doesn't really address why there have to be so many back to backs.