Breaking Down the New Orleans Pelicans Schedule

In the NBA, not all schedules are created equal. In addition to playing your division foes twice as much as you play the other conference, you also have numerous other factors that can effect the difficulty of your schedule, including: number of back to backs, your non-division conference schedule, and differing lengths of East and/or West coast swings. Today, the New Orleans Pelicans got their schedule, so let’s take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Interesting.

The Good

The Pelicans kick the season off with three of their first four games at home (including the first 2) and could easily start the season off 4-0, as their lone road game is at Memphis – a team they have owned as of late. Orlando comes into New Orleans to start the season on October 28th, followed by Dallas, then Memphis on the road and the Charlotte Hornets (still weird) at home. They could get off to a great start, which could give them confidence as they head into their next two games (at San Antonio, at Cleveland).

The Non-Division Conference Schedule. It broke down the following way:

Four Times: Thunder, Lakers, Kings, Wolves, Nuggets, Warriors,

Three Times (2 at home, 1 on road): Phoenix, Utah

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

It’s not perfect, but it is better than it could have been. The only one of the non-playoff contenders that we don’t get 4 times is Utah and we only have to go to Phoenix once – a tough place to win. One fewer game against the Clippers can’t hurt, even though we will only get to see CP3 once (on January 30th). Ideally I would have flip flopped Utah and Portland, and maybe OKC and Phoenix, but again, mostly good news here.

The final game of the season will feature the Pelicans at home against the Spurs. History says that they have usually shut it down by then, and with the West being so competitive, that final game could mean the difference in a playoff spot or perhaps a higher seed. Also, in two of the other match ups against the Spurs, San Antonio is on the second night of a back-to-back. Feel free to rest Duncan and Ginobli, Pop!

The longest East coast road trip features almost all of the cupcakes. People like to bag on the East, but it got better this summer. The Pelicans five-game East coast swing in mid-January features Boston, Detroit, Philly, Toronto, and New York. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see them go 4-1 on their longest East coast road swing.

The Pelicans get the Cavs twice early, which means that they could get the next potential powerhouse before they really start to gel. Remember that the Heat struggled early in their first season, and it is likely that the Cavs will be playing much better in March than they will be in December. The Pelicans get both of their games with the Cavs over with by December 12th.

The Bad

20 Back-to-Back dates. That is a little more than the average (usually around 18), and March and April look especially tough in that area. Although, this might be the new norm if teams get extended All-Star breaks in February. What’s really bad, though, is that 13 of the back-to-backs have a road game as the second game of the back-to-back, historically the hardest game to win.

Not enough Saturday home games – only 4 all season.

Eight NBATV games is nice, but spotlight games on ErSPN, ABC, or TNT are a whole different animal, and the Pelicans only have two of those – Home against Miami on February 27th (ESPN) and at Golden State on December 4th (TNT).

Mid-November through early January could be brutal, especially if the team hasn’t gelled yet. After those first four games, the Pelicans next 33 games will provide quite a test. The Pelicans will play San Antonio three times and OKC and Cleveland twice. They also have two mini West Coast road trips and six back-to-backs, with a couple of them being quite brutal (SA-Chicago, Phoenix-SA, etc.)

The Interesting

All-Star Weekend has turned into All-Star Week, as the NBA has given teams eight days off to recharge in mid-February. The Pelicans will host Indiana on February 11th, and then won’t have to play again until February 20th at Orlando.

Omer Asik will visit Houston for the first time on December 18th.

The Pelicans will be in New York for an afternoon game on MLK day.

If you are looking for the Pelicans to make a run, expect it to happen in January, and it can carry through until March. The Pelicans have that easy road trip I talked about and then follow it up with 10 of the next 12 games at home before hitting the All-Star break. The schedule doesn’t really get hard again until late March. Honestly, if the Pelicans can just make it to early January and are anywhere near .500, they could go something like 30-15 over their final 45 games.

So, what are your thoughts on the Pelicans schedule?

5 responses to “Breaking Down the New Orleans Pelicans Schedule”

  1. Great breakdown
    Final 15 games against west teams including final home against Spurs
    Hopefully will be relevant and raucous
    I like the schedule and think it is favorable for Pelicans
    Longest rod stretch not bad
    Back to back roads not intimidating except against Wiz on 11/29, Heat on 2/21, Mavs on 3/2, warriors on 3/20 and blazers on 4/4
    Stretch of home games prior to All-Star break intriguing. If we could win 9 of those?

  2. I think the schedule is good for us.

    If we come out of the gates strong it could be the confidence boost we’ll need for the rest of the season.  
    Not enough nationally televised games though, so I’ll have to resort to “other means”.

  3. Usually I’m the overly optimistic one.. And hope we do start off 4-0.. But the Pels could also easily start off 1-5 through those 1st 6 games. The late schedule looks great though and should them momentum going into the playoffs!

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