Nuggets Set for Prime Time in 2017-18 Season
The Nuggets will make nine national television appearances as the NBA moves them back among teams that are highlighted during the 2017-18 season. It’s one of many features of the Nuggets schedule, which was released on Monday. Seven of those nationally-televised games are at home.
As promised, the NBA further cut down on back-to-backs with an earlier start to this season’s schedule, and the Nuggets also get a much smoother start to the 2017-18 season than they did last season. Eight of the Nuggets’ first 13 games are at the Pepsi Center, a big reversal from last season, which saw the Nuggets hit the road for six of their first seven, and seven of their first 10 games.
And seven of those first 13 games this season are against teams that did not make the playoffs last season, so there is a quick opportunity for the team to get out to a fast start.
The season, however, does start on the road for the Nuggets. They’ll play the Oct. 18 opener at Utah, before returning home for two games. The Nuggets’ home opener is Saturday, Oct. 21 against the new-look Sacramento Kings, featuring athletic rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox.
The Nuggets do not play on Christmas Day.
There are 14 back-to-backs on the schedule, which is three fewer than the Nuggets had last season. Among those 14 back-to-backs, there are two that require no travel – games at Brooklyn and New York right away on Oct. 29 and 30; and a home back-to-back against Miami and Golden State a few days later on Nov. 3 and 4.
The NBA has eliminated four games in five nights for every team in the league.
The Nuggets only have three road trips of four or more games, but those trips are doozies. There is a four-game, Eastern Conference road trip at the end of October (at Charlotte, Atlanta, Brooklyn and New York). There is a six-game road trip at the beginning of December. And the longest trip of the season is seven games over 14 days in March (at Memphis, Miami, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, Toronto and Oklahoma City). December and March are road-heavy months. The Nuggets have 10 of 15 games in December on the road. In March, 11 of 15 games are on the road. It means those two months alone hold more than half of the Nuggets’ entire road schedule.
Their longest home stand is a six-game game stretch over 11 days from Nov. 1-11. January features 10 of 15 games at the Pepsi Center.
Notable home games: Nov. 4 and Feb. 3 against defending champion Golden State; Nov. 9 and Feb. 1 against the Russell Westbrook and Paul George-led Oklahoma City Thunder. Rookie sensation Lonzo Ball brings his Lakers for the first of two games at the Pepsi Center on Dec. 2. The Lakers return to Pepsi Center on Mar. 9. LeBron James brings Cleveland to town for his only appearance in the Mile High City on March 7. There is also only one home game against James Harden, Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets (Feb. 25) due to the fact that there are only three games against Houston this season. Two of those games are in Houston.
Other teams the Nuggets have just three games against are the L.A. Clippers (one home, two away), the New Orleans Pelicans (two home, one away), and the Phoenix Suns (two home, one away).
By the end of the season, the Nuggets will have traveled 44,792 miles, which is on the lower end of the spectrum for teams in the NBA. They’ll be more rested as well. There are many instances of multiple days off between games. They have 15 games where they’ll have had a day of rest, while their opponent has not, but there are 15 others where they Nuggets will be on the wrong side of that day off advantage.
In all, it is a schedule that sets up well for a Nuggets team looking to improve on its 40-win season from a year ago.
Christopher Dempsey: firstname.lastname@example.org and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.