NBA Rumor: NBA Schedule

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Sources said the league disagrees that the schedule or short offseason has increased injuries or wear and tear on players or that it has limited the amount of time for rest and recovery. Citing internal data, the league says injuries rate similarly to last season. Officials note that in a normal calendar year, teams play 82 games and return after 14 weeks off. Over this two-year period, the average team played 20 fewer games than it would’ve played in such a stretch and had an additional two months off. Of course, those numbers don’t take into account the complicating factors wrought by the pandemic, such as early testing times or other elements tied to COVID-19 protocols.

Among the questions that the league likely still needs to address to teams: Could franchises be assured — especially those in big markets — that there wouldn’t be gate revenue losses by shortening the regular season to 78 games to accommodate the tournament? Some teams had been hesitant to incur short-term losses on potentially losing two home dates, especially when those games had been worth anywhere between $2.5 million and $4 million in pre-pandemic times.

NBA releases schedule for the second half of the season

The NBA today released its game schedule and broadcast schedules for TNT, ESPN, ABC, NBA TV and ESPN Radio for the Second Half of the 2020-21 regular season, which will begin Wednesday, March 10 and conclude Sunday, May 16. The Second Half of the regular season will be followed by the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament (May 18-21) and the 2021 NBA Playoffs, which will tip off Saturday, May 22. The Play-In Tournament will determine the teams that will fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference. The teams with the seventh-highest through the tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference will qualify for the Play-In Tournament.

The game schedules across TNT and ESPN for the final week of the regular season (May 10-16) will be determined at a later date in order to provide the most compelling matchups to a national audience leading into the NBA Play-In Tournament and the NBA Playoffs. In the final week of the regular season, TNT will present doubleheaders Tuesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 13, and ESPN will televise doubleheaders Wednesday, May 12 and Friday, May 14. ESPN will also air a game Sunday, May 16 on the final day of the regular season. TNT will tip off its coverage of the Second Half of the season Thursday, March 11 with a doubleheader as the Brooklyn Nets host the Boston Celtics (7:30 p.m. ET) and the Golden State Warriors visit the LA Clippers (10 p.m. ET). ESPN will begin its Second Half coverage Sunday, March 14 when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Clippers (9 p.m. ET). On Monday, March 15, ESPN’s first doubleheader in the Second Half will feature the New York Knicks visiting the Nets (8 p.m. ET) and the Lakers taking on the Warriors in San Francisco (10:30 p.m. ET).

In an effort to combat the piling up of games due to postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA on Wednesday said it will adjust the existing schedule to avoid having to fill in too many games during the second half of the season. To do so, the NBA will do two things: reschedule games that have already been postponed, where possible, between now and the league’s scheduled midseason break in early March; and reschedule games to the second half of the season — which has yet to be announced — in order to squeeze in more games where possible in the first half.

Washington’s second-half schedule might not be as jam-packed as first thought, after the NBA said Wednesday it was rescheduling some Wizards games after a half-dozen of their contests were postponed in recent weeks for virus-related reasons. Portland will now visit Washington on Tuesday, a game that was originally set for the second half. Washington will play at Charlotte on Feb. 7, a game that was rescheduled from Jan. 20. And that means the Blazers, who were scheduled to visit the Hornets that day, will now go to Charlotte in the second half of the schedule.

In the not so distant past, fallible humans came up with the schedule for our sports leagues. It was a painstaking, manual process. In the NFL, the late Val Pinchbeck would slowly piece together the entire football slate on a giant pegboard. Other leagues had too many games to fit on a pegboard, but they employed similarly artisanal methods of mapping the future. Matt Winick was the NBA’s Val Pinchbeck, the man who slowly, personally constructed the 1,230 game schedule within a tornado of yellow legal pads. He did it for three decades, and in his latter years on the job, used the trappings of modernity as a means to shift blame. As Winick told Howard Beck in a 2015 Bleacher Report story: “I tell the teams, ‘Hey, that’s the way the computer did it. But it was never the computer. I was the computer.”

Efficiency is sought as you hit the big time. TV partners are paying out expensive contracts, like that $2.66 billion the NBA gets annually from ESPN and TNT. Nothing can be left to chance, so everything can’t be left to one man. As one NFL executive once told the Los Angeles Times, “In the 10 years that I’ve been doing this, the computer sophistication has grown exponentially. So now we have not only the ability but the mandate to take all these considerations in parallel.” The same article says of the recent changes, “There has been a significant paradigm shift since those days when the schedule was built, and then games were distributed to the networks. Now, TV is a consideration from the start, and there are several marquee games that are essentials around which the schedule is constructed.”

Indeed, the power of national television in the NBA ecosystem is such that the league has rushed back for an opening night in December despite having just ended its season in mid October — an extreme maneuver even if justified. The NBA set a sports record for shortest ever offseason against the protestations of LeBron James because a) Sacrificing Christmas Day games can’t happen and b) They never want to repeat the experience of losing playoff viewership to the NFL ever again.

The NBA’s fancy proprietary software, called “Game Scheduling System” or “the computer” more colloquially, drew up the lion’s share of this national TV schedule. In 2015, GSS officially took over for Matt Winick. These days, Head of NBA Basketball Strategy & Analytics Evan Wasch is the man with authority over the machine. Wasch, who’s increasingly gained a reputation as the league’s big ideas guy, is of a new generation. He’s a data driven former Sloan Conference presenter who helped introduce the All-Star Game Elam Ending.

The schedule incorporates steps to reduce travel, including the use of a “series” model. In some instances where a team is scheduled to play twice in one market, those games have been scheduled to be played consecutively. Each team will play an average of four “series” in the First Half – two at home and two on the road. Additional steps include more instances of teams playing consecutive road games against teams that are geographically close, and roughly 50% fewer instances of teams making single-game road trips.
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June 23, 2021 | 9:04 am EDT Update

Nate McMillan has reservations about coaching Hawks next season?

While McMillan is the team’s “interim’’ head coach, sources made it abundantly clear Hawks management would love to remove the interim title. However, sources also said the 56-year-old McMillan has some reservations whether he wants to be the permanent head coach and may prefer some other role in the organization. Money won’t factor into McMillan’s decision as he is financially set, sources said.
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The 24-year-old is just fearless, and it’s that kind of bravado that has everything to do with the Suns taking these two games without Chris Paul while he continues to go through COVID protocol. Beverley bothered him defensively, but Booker never backed down. I asked him afterward if their back-and-forth was good, old-fashioned playoff basketball, or if perhaps Beverley and the Clippers were going too far with the physicality. “That’s for you guys to decide,” he said. “They’re an aggressive team. That’s how they guard. All those guys, they’re athletic. Watching the previous series against Dallas and Utah, (they’re) switching everything and trying to turn teams over. But we’re figuring it out and we try to stay aggressive, stay with what we do and whether it’s basketball plays or not, we’ve got to move on to the next one.”
“CP has taken Cam Payne under his wing,” he said. “When you see Cam Payne coming into practice with Chris Paul, you’re wondering, you know — Chris Paul is usually the one here early and you see Cam Payne right behind him and you tend to ask questions, them two been together watching film, lifting weights together stuff like that. You could tell that Cam really took a different approach to a whole other level and he did it right in front of our eyes. Like I said, he was bound to have one of these games and he’s a guy who keeps it consistent. He plays hard both ends of the ball, and I just love his passion.”
“We want everybody to cherish this moment because we are built for this,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s why we are here. No matter the pressure, no matter what’s going on, we are built for this. We believe in who we are. No matter what happens, win or lose, we’ll stay together and we’re just going to go out there and compete.” Antetokounmpo delivered for the Bucks in the series finale against the Nets with 40 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. For the series, he averaged 28.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
Against Brooklyn, Antetokounmpo averaged 40.1 minutes per game, the most he has averaged in any series and by far the most he has averaged since Budenholzer became coach in 2018. Antetokounmpo played 50 of 53 minutes in Game 7. “I’ve prepared my body all year for moments like that, being able to play 40 minutes, 42, 45, 48, whatever it may be, 53,” he said. “(Budenholzer) knows the way I am. If I get tired I’m going to let him know. If I get tired and I need a 30-second break or a minute-break, usually we have a great way to communicate about that – that he can pull me out and put me right back.”
Two people who have played important roles behind the scenes for the Hawks are Larry Riley and Mike McNeive. Riley, once an assistant coach and scout for the Bucks, is a senior advisor to Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk. Before joining the Hawks, Riley played a major role in the enormous success of the Golden State Warriors as be drafted Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson while being the team’s general manager. McNeive, who worked as an advance scout and assistant coach for the Bucks during the George Karl regime, is the Hawks director of basketball operations.
June 23, 2021 | 5:32 am EDT Update

Nets upset with Kyrie Irving?

Sullivan is the author of “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow,” which released on Tuesday. In a conversation with our friends from Celtics Wire on their podcast, Celtics Lab, Sullivan said that Nets ownership was unhappy with Irving over his midseason “pause,” and that Irving could be available for the right offer.
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