MILWAUKEE – No one has quibbled with the intent. But sacrificing preparation and repetitions in the preseason to loosen up the NBA regular season hasn’t been without its challenges, particularly with scant days remaining before games get real.
“It’s quick,” Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said Friday before the Bucks faced Detroit in the final tune-up game for both teams. “They’re going to have to re-look, y’know, adjust to this because it’s too fast.
“I understand they want to give the players rest but they’re trying to smash training camp into three weeks. There’s just too many injuries throughout the whole league. So hopefully they’ll address that in the summertime.”
Cutting back on the preseason – three weeks for most teams, with four games in early October – was the tradeoff for opening the 2017-18 schedule one week earlier than usual, allowing for more days between games to be sprinkled into the six-month regular season. Back-to-back situations have been reduced and stretches of four games in five nights eradicated as a way to allow more rest and recovery for players. It was the NBA’s response, too, to an unwelcome trend of healthy stars sitting out marquee games.
“I understand the product. They want the product on the floor, but you’re just seeing a lot of injuries throughout the league,” said Kidd, whose team was without big man Greg Monroe (left calf soreness) and wing Brandon Rush (right hamstring strain) against the Pistons at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Friday.
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A number of NBA players have suffered injuries this preseason, though data isn’t readily available to determine if the rate is greater or less than past preseasons.
Two years ago, in a USA Today story, Kidd was one of the coaches who said the traditional preseason schedule of eight games was too many. He recalled the post-lockout scrambles of 1998 and 2011, when each team squeezed in just two, and said: “No one complained.”
This season, Milwaukee ranks near the top among the league’s 30 teams in continuity, determined by percentage of returnees from last year’s roster. The teacher in him, though, sounds as if more classroom time is still needed.
“The cards are dealt,” Kidd said. “I keep talking about how we just want to get out of this healthy.”
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, asked about his team’s experience with the shortened preseason, said: “I’m rushed. I’m looking at my list of things I still haven’t talked about. But we’re all in the same boat.
“I’m sure that’s something the league will keep an eye on. They’re doing the best they can in the league office. This was thought out over time and they’re trying to help the players. Whether that is a benefit or not, we’re going to find out.”
Both Kidd and Van Gundy said they wouldn’t be surprised if we see raggedy play next week, based on the cutback in prep time.
Van Gundy added: “You always do anyway. That part, I think, will be pretty normal.”