The Oden Chase Was Fun, But Tuesday’s Schedule Release is Far More Important

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Published: August 3, 2013
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After a hectic couple of weeks that saw the Pelicans add an All-Star point guard, a 23 year old former ROY, and several intriguing role players, fans were waiting for the cherry on the sundae. Our sundae appears cherry-less after Greg Oden chose to sign with the Miami Heat, but I can (and will) argue that the schedule that the NBA will release on Tuesday will impact our team far more than Oden would have. At best, Oden was probably a guy who could provide 1-3 wins over the course of a season. We are talking about a guy who might not play until January, and even after that, he will likely be severely limited.

The possible permutations of our 2013-14 schedule, however, are endless and the difference between best-case scenario and worst-case could have a 6-8 game impact. Last year, the Pelicans played against the toughest schedule in the NBA. That is just based on win%, as it doesn’t even factor in where you played or when they played certain teams. If you play Orlando and Atlanta in a back-to-back, you would prefer Atlanta first, for instance. Also, how many back to backs do you have? When is your longest road trip and how long is it? All of these minor factors can play a huge role. A bigger role than Mr. Oden would have played. With that in mind. let’s take a look at what we should watch for on Tuesday.

1. Western Conference Non-Division Games

46 games are fixed. We will play each of our division opponents four times and each Eastern Conference team twice. The other 36 games are divided up between the ten Western Conference teams that are not in the Pelicans division. You get six of those teams 4 times and four of those teams 3 times. Playing Phoenix four times and OKC three times would probably lead to one more win than if you flipped that, so that can be huge.

Then, with the teams you play three times, you get two matchups where you get 2 home games and 1 road game and two matchups where you play 2 road games and 1 home game. Again, I don’t want to go to Denver twice if I don’t have to. I would rather play the Lakers twice in LA, because Lakers games in New Orleans are road games for us anyway. Again, if this plays out perfectly, we are talking about a 2-3 game swing as opposed to the worst case scenario. So, what is the best case scenario? Glad you asked!

Play Four Times: Kings, Jazz, Suns, Lakers, Wolves, Blazers

Play Three Times (2 on road, 1 at home) : Clippers, Thunder

Play Three Times (2 at home, 1 on road) : Nuggets, Warriors

You get the worst teams four times. You concede victories to the Clippers and Thunder in that swing game, since it will be tough to beat them at home anyway, and then you get two great home teams that are similar in talent at home in the swing game. Best case scenario in my opinion.

2. Back to Back Games

All back to back games are not created equally. You can play both at home, both on the road, or one of each. It is the one home, one road back to back that has the most variance. Teams that play their first game on the road and their second game at home, tend to have 6% more overall success in those two games than when that is flipped.

When it comes to back to back road games, teams are 7% less likely to win that game than a road game that is played with at least one day’s rest. You can make two arguments here. You can say that you want the tougher team second because your team is not theoretically at full strength, so concede that game and try to win the first. I go the other way, however. I want the tougher team first and the lesser team on day two. Yes, there is more of a chance that I can go 0-2 than the first scenario, but I think I give myself a far better chance to go 2-0. Going 2-0 in the other scenario would be near impossible.

The number of back to back games is a factor as well. New Orleans had 14 back to back games last year, while a team in their own division (Memphis) only had 10. And we only had one Road/Home back to back, the most preferable of the back to backs. Meanwhile, we had seven Home/Road back to backs. Long story, short, we really had a terrible schedule last year, so the NBA owes us one.

3. Road Trip

Normally, the team takes one long Eastern Conference road trip, right around Mardi Gras. Last season, they had two separate east coast trips with a west coast swing sandwiched in the middle. Basically, your worst case scenario. A long road trip out East can help teams create a bond. Spurs players have often cited their Rodeo Road Trip as a time in the season where they all came together.

The Pelicans are at a bit of a disadvantage, because they are the furthest east of all the Western Conference teams, so their traveling to Portland and Sacramento, etc. is a bit of a pain. The more extended trips in either direction, the better. Ideally, the team would have three 5-6 game road trips as opposed to five or six 3-game road trips.

The NBA schedule will be released on Tuesday, August 6th. Check back here as we break it all down for you.

2 comments
Caffeinedisaster
Caffeinedisaster

Bring on all challengers.  We've got the talent to compete!

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

Awesome Michael...thanks for opening my eyes to the finer points of the scheduling hand we were dealt, and the one that is to come...and two articles in a row?  You must be making some OT!

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  1. […] week I laid out why the schedule was so important and gave you some specific things to look out for. Now that the schedule has been released, let’s take a look at the key factors that can mean […]