Breaking Down the New Orleans Pelicans 2015-16 Schedule

Published: August 12, 2015

While we spend the majority of our time discussing free agent acquisitions like Jason Terry, trade possibilities like Markieff Morris, and re-signings like Norris Cole at this time of year, the truth is that none of those things will likely move the needle this season when it comes to the win column. The Pelicans are a team that can finish this season with anywhere between 45 and 60 wins depending on a large number of factors including health, elements of in-game luck, and yes their schedule.

If a team wins 45 games, they are not a “45 win team.” I mean, I guess technically they are, but it’s not that simple. Does anybody believe that the Pelicans would have gone 2-3 on their easy East Coast trip last season if they had that trip earlier (when healthy) or later (once they gelled + got Cole)? Or, imagine that they faced opponents who were on the 2nd night of a back to back 20 times, and only had 12 back to backs themselves – Wouldn’t that have meant more wins than the other way around, which is what happened last year?

All schedules are not created equal, and the Pelicans have not caught a break with the schedule for the past few seasons. A big part of that is because they are one of the eastern most teams in the Western Conference. Rarely do they get teams on the 2nd night of a back to back, as that generally goes to more centrally located teams. They also tend to have numerous back to backs – often on brutal west coast trips. With that in mind, let’s look at some important factors in the Pelicans 2015-16 schedule.

Total Number of Back to Backs: 17 (slightly below average)

Back to Backs w/ 2nd Game on the Road: 11

Back to Backs w/ 2nd Game at Home: 6

Games Played more Rested than Opponent: 28 (most in the league)

Non-Division Western Conference Teams they Play 4 Times: Clippers, Suns, T’Wolves, Blazers, Jazz, Kings

Non-Division Western Conference Teams they Play 3 Times (twice at home): Lakers, Nuggets

Non-Division Western Conference Teams they Play 3 Times (twice on road): Warriors, Thunder

West Coast Trip(s): Dec. 14-20 (Portland, Utah, Phoenix, Denver); Jan. 10-13 (Clippers, Lakers, Kings)

East Coast Trip(s): Mar 9-12 (Charlotte, Memphis, Milwaukee); April 3-6 (Nets, Philly, Boston)

Easiest Month: April – The Pelicans could seriously go unbeaten down the stretch. The closing month features 7 games — at Nets, at Philly, at Boston, vs. LAL, vs. PHX, vs. Chicago, at Minny. Even the end o f March is easy. The final 10-12 games could see the Pels make a huge surge if the Western Conference is as close as we all expect it to be.

Toughest Month: February. It is a toss up between December and February, as the Pels have more road games in December, but tougher opponents in February. In February, they get OKC twice, are at Cleveland, San Antonio, and Washington, and also play Memphis. Luckily, they have a nice long week break in the middle of the month to recover.

National TV Games: 13 (8 on ESPN, 5 on TNT), including opening night vs. the Warriors and Christmas Day against the Heat

Overall Grade: B+

You gotta love all the national exposure and having a below average number of back to backs is good for a change. I also like that our one 4 game in 5 night stretch comes against some weak opponents (Philly, Boston, LAL, Phoenix). I am also very excited that we get Dallas early. We play them twice right out of the gate and have all four games with them by January 6th. Any team that had major roster overhauls and/or guys coming off major surgery, you want early. The Pels get that with Dallas and Portland. They also get Atlanta twice in the first two weeks of the season, as they will try to learn how to play w/o Demarre Carroll.

I would have liked to see San Antonio earlier, as they will take time to gel. The Pels get them once in November, but don’t play them again until February. Basically, they will have to play them three times after they hit their infamous stride. I also don’t like that both trips to OKC are on the 2nd night of a back to back. Ideally, I would like to play the Lakers 4 times and the Clippers 3, but that is nitpicking. Overall, I think the Pelicans schedule is pretty balanced and there is a chance to go on a big run from mid-March to the end of the season. Something like 13-2 would not be out of the question, so if the Pelicans can just stay in the race and jockey for position, they can make a late charge and steal home court down the stretch.





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