HEAT.com 2012-13 Schedule Analysis
Two years ago, the release of the NBA Schedule was an event. A historic free-agency period had reshaped the landscape of the league and the schedule was the first teaser of the dream matchups that, before July 2010, nobody knew to dream of yet.
One year ago, there was no schedule. Basketball was far from a certainty, and when the official dates came out amid free-agency madness, complete with back-to-back-to-backs and limited practice days, it was a natural reaction to treat the actual matchups with a morsel of apathy. The fact that games were going to take place at all was exciting enough. The schedule was merely a confirmation email.
This year, things are a little more subdued. Steve Nash is in Los Angeles, Joe Johnson is a Brooklyn Net and Ray Allen is a member of the Miami HEAT, but most teams held serve, filling out the margins and re-signing players around an existing core. The league you watched last season will be very similar to the one that will get going when Miami hosts the Boston Celtics on October 30. Only, proceedings will be significantly more spread out.
Your typical NBA slate is composed of 82 games, per team, in 170 calendar days, giving every squad 83 days off and a game every 2.07 days. During the condensed season, there were 66 scheduled games to just 58 days off, or a game every 1.87 days. Erik Spoelstra said on a number of occasions that the HEAT had around 16 actual practices before the playoffs began following a two-week training camp.
Now things are back to normal. The schedule is out in July, Miami will play before Halloween hosting the Boston Celtics on October 30 and the HEAT will get in 24 games and six or seven practices before a visit from the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day.
As for the various peculiarities, despite an early six-game road trip regardless of projected quality of opponent the HEAT have some breathing room before All-Star Weekend (beginning February 15) with 58 days off to just 50 games. After All-Star, things get a little tighter with 25 days off to 32 games, including two road trips of four games or more. In all, Miami gets 15 back-to-backs and 10 day games, including New Years Eve, a Monday, against Orlando.
The season has structure now, which surely helps fans, writers, players and team employees not to mention their families make plans for the next year, but there is no drama to this for Miami. Even having won a championship, its difficult to fathom any target on their back storylines carrying any more weight than they did during 2010. Championship Rings will be handed out, but this is otherwise just another season, another goal set to be playing deep into June.
With that in mind, it seems prudent to use this schedule for a little perspective. No single game or name you see next to a date truly matters to the big picture. Beating Brooklyn in the second week of the season doesnt prove anything more than a loss to Boston in late January. There will be thrills, there will be letdowns and emotions will fluctuate naturally between the extremes, but Miami has long since reached the stage where health is of the highest priority.
Dont let this stop you assuming youre ready to be talking about another season after the last one ended a month ago from getting excited. There will be eye-wateringly beautiful moments of basketball on the days the NBA has scheduled the HEAT to play.
Just remember to keep things in perspective during the periods mired in the mucky muck. Theyre scheduled, too, we just dont know when.
More Nuggets from the Schedule Release:
-- Three four-game road trips, one of five and two more of six for Miami, including a January trip that concludes on the 17th against the Los Angeles Lakers.
-- Speaking of the Lakers, that game on January 17 is going to be a tough one, with tired legs from a long road trip. Win or lose, results from that game wont be very useful for analysis due to situations that simply wont be reproduced during a possible postseason run as weve seen with recent regular season games against Chicago and Boston preceding a playoff series.
-- Ray Allen returns to Boston as a member of the HEAT for the first time January 27.
-- Playoff rematches: the HEAT visit the New York Knicks in the second game of the season, November 2, and then host their 2012 first-round opponent December 6. Indiana doesn't come to town until March 10, Boston is the opener and Miami plays Oklahoma City on Christmas Day.
-- Miami has one five-game homestand before the All-Star break in February and a six-game streak in the middle of December.
-- The HEAT have 18 days off between the home opener against the Celtics and the second home game against the Nets, including seven days off around Thanksgiving, playing the Wednesday before and the Saturday after, then not playing again until the following Thursday.
-- Circle December 8 as your first opportunity to see No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis with the New Orleans Hornets in Miami.