Portland's 2017-18 Schedule: Home Early, Road Late
Though it only gets released once a year and doesn’t really change much in terms of competitive advantage, there’s been no lack of discussion regarding the NBA schedule over the past few seasons. From debates regarding whether 82 is the right number of games, the importance of rest in reducing injuries and teams resting players during nationally-televised games, interest in how the NBA schedule comes together and whether it should undergo significant changes has never been greater.
The most obvious change is moving up the start date of the regular season. After starting the 2016-17 season on October 25, the Trail Blazers will begin their 2017-18 campaign with a three-game road trip starting October 18, a full week earlier than last season, versus the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The regular season has gradually started earlier the last few years — Portland started the 2016-17 season three days earlier than the 2015-16 season — though pushing up the start date to mid-October this year is easily the most drastic scheduling change since the All-Star break was extended a few seasons ago.
Another change is the elimination of four-games-in-five-nights stretches, which is also something the league has been working on the last few seasons. After having two such stretches during the 2015-16 season and one four-in-five stretch in 2016-17, the Trail Blazers, along with the other 29 teams, have no four-in-fives this season. However, Portland saw no decrease in their number of back-to-backs this season, as they have 15 such stretches in 2017-18, the same number as they had in 2016-17.
But other than a few diversions from the last few seasons — the end of Portland’s season, which has been fairly home-heavy the last few years, looks much more difficult in 2016-17 — not many of the changes the NBA has reportedly been working on made their way onto the Trail Blazers’ schedule. Other than an increase in back-to-backs, the Trail Blazers actually have more one-game road trips in 2017-18 (seven) than they had in 2016-17 (four) and the same number of weekend games (23) as in 2016-17.
However, they only have two five-game road trips this season after having twice as many in 2016-17, though the difference is made up with two four-game trips this season after having no four-game trips in 2016-17. The end result is the Trail Blazers have nine games in which they are considered “fresh” (as in they did not play the night before but their opponent did), five fewer than last season, 10 in which they are considered “tired” (games in which they played the night before but their opponent did not) and 63 where they are considered “even” (both teams playing or resting the night before), which is eight more games than last season. And that’s the NBA’s ultimate goal: to have the most games in which both teams are generally dealing with the same level of fatigue.
When it’s all said and done in, the Trail Blazers will have traveled 55,254 miles this season, which is just 35 miles less than the maximum distances traveled by any team for the 2017-18 season, though it is 1,330 miles less than Portland traveled last season.
Also of note: Portland has 11 nationally-televised games this season — six on ESPN and five on TNT — after having 14 last season.
Some additional details regarding Portland’s 2017-18 schedule…
GAMES BY MONTH
October: 7 (3 away, 4 home)
November: 15 (7 away, 8 home)
December: 13 (7 away, 6 home)
January: 16 (9 away, 7 home)
February: 10 (6 away, 4 home)
March: 15 (5 away, 10 home)
April: 6 (4 away, 2 home)
One game: 7
Two games: 2
Three games: 4
Four games: 2
Five games: 2
BACK-TO-BACKS: 15 (same as last year)
BACK-TO-BACKS BY MONTH
October: 1 (Road/Road)
November: 3 (Road/Home, Road/Home, Road/Road)
December: 2 (Road/Road, Home/Road)
January: 4 (Road/Road, Road/Road, Road/Home)
February: 3 (Road/Road, Home/Road, Road/Road)
March: 3 (Road/Home, Home/Road, Road/Road)
BACK-TO-BACKS BY TYPE
GAMES BY DAY OF THE WEEK
NATIONAL TV GAMES: 11 (6 on ESPN, 5 on TNT)
WESTERN CONFERENCE OPPONENTS WITH ONLY THREE GAMES
Dallas Mavericks (one home, two road), Los Angeles Lakers (one home, two road) (1H/2A), San Antonio Spurs (two home, one road), Golden State Warriors (two home, one road)
A few notes…
• One assumes it’ll be important for the Trail Blazers to get off to a good start in 2017-18, something they’ve struggled to do the last two season, considering they play nine of their first 14 games at the Moda Center and finish the year playing seven of their last 10 games on the road. Also worth noting that after starting the season with a three-game road trip, Portland plays nine of their next 10 games at home over the course of 25 days.
• With four back-to-backs, nine road games and 16 games overall, January is the easy pick for Portland’s most difficult month this season. Honorable mention goes to April for packing in a bunch of tough games into a two-week stretch.
Easiest month is a tossup between November and March, with March winning out due to a fewer number of road games.
• The Trail Blazers haven’t played on Christmas Day since the 2010-11 season, and that doesn’t change in 2017-18. Portland also will not play on the Martin Luther Kind Jr. holiday this season either. But they’re playing on January 1 again, which is a nice way to break up the ubiquity of New Year’s college football bowl games.