NBA

Why do the Trail Blazers continue to draw a tough NBA schedule?

ADVERTISEMENT

The NBA released the schedule for the Portland Trail Blazers yesterday. Like every year, some parts are more beautiful than others. Judging by the reaction in the Blazer’s Edge mailbag, however, the league planning office might as well have taken all the Portland schoolboys’ hamsters and guinea pigs, roasted them on a spit and fed them. to sharks wearing Lakers caps.

Let’s take one of the milder examples like our question for the Mailbag today.

ADVERTISEMENT

David,

What is the program? We have a rough start, huge mileage, it’s like the NBA wants us to lose. Why does this always happen?

To M

I think the first thing we have to admit is that schedules are like referees. You’re never going to find the one you think works for you. You’ll tend to notice flaws in your schedule faster than anyone else’s. Anything that isn’t the best for your team seems unfair. That’s probably 50% of the frustration here.

But we also have to recognize something. The Blazers are the end of the donkey’s tail when it comes to NBA roster…always a worthwhile and necessary part, but if anybody’s gonna get shit, guess who it’s gonna be?

Geography explains most of it. Since the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City, the Blazers have been left on an island in the Pacific Northwest. They have to travel further, more often, than any other franchise.

Sometimes the setup is ridiculous. The New Orleans Pelicans are in the Western Conference. Portland is 2500 miles from New Orleans. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is 700 miles closer to NW. The Blazers also have to travel 1,000 miles to LA if they want to play the Clippers. The Lakers just crossed the street.

The NBA can’t do anything about it. No matter how they reshuffle the schedule, Portland will likely move more than anyone else. The only method they have of mitigating this – stringing together multiple away matches in close proximity to each other – creates gigantic long road trips that people will also complain about.

“Why are we playing seven in a row on the road?” Because it would be worse to go home between game three and game four, because that’s an extra 4,000 miles of travel for a rest day.

The Blazers also have the misfortune of being a small to mid-sized team with relatively little prestige right now. I have little intimate knowledge of how schedules are created. I spoke to someone once who was in the process, but that was years ago. Common sense will serve to describe the basics, however.

The Lakers, Knicks, Nets, Warriors and a few other teams need to be sorted first. People notice when these teams play. No LeBron on Christmas Day makes a lot more difference than no…well…anyone playing for Sacramento. Major market sites are also in high demand for non-NBA purposes. You need to get the Lakers and Clippers to come on their dates. Paul McCartney and Adele are going to want the arena on nights you’re not using it, and indeed can be pre-booked there. The Grand Grammas of the Quilting Bee, as formidable and respectable as they are, do not have the same influence in Salt Lake City.

I guess Portland’s reservation is relatively low on the importance scale. There are guarantees. Nobody’s going to take a 20-game trip, back-to-back games are limited, and you’re not playing Boston Tuesday, San Francisco Wednesday. But scheduling 41 games across 30 team arenas over 8 months means a pretzel twist somewhere, figuring out how to align everyone’s interests and needs. The Blazers will be one of those flexible franchises until they become big enough to be a tentpole.

My understanding is that when you get to the final games, very little human choice is involved. There are, like, three places it could go and two won’t without creating major issues. So the game falls where it falls in the now automatic sorting process. So you get a back-to-back road against the second-best team in the conference in Week 1.

Admittedly, a back-to-back in Phoenix is ​​far more brutal than a back-to-back in San Antonio. The pretzel was dipped in vinegar for Portland’s first dozen games of the season. Even then, you can twist it either way. Two games against a conference powerhouse in 36 hours might be outweighed by the old adage, “It’s hard to win against the same team twice in a row.” It depends on how you look at it.

And that’s part of the point. If the Blazers are serious about wrestling, they will have to control their schedule rather than let the schedule control them. Whatever their order and frequency, games are opportunities, not fate. Portland hill may be steeper than others, but still passable.

Scheduling issues don’t go away. If the Blazers aren’t just going to give up, they have to get over it somehow. If geographic disadvantage is built into the system, resilience and preparedness must be as well. The schedule may cost Portland a game or two each year, but that can’t make them non-elite and it stops mattering as much once the playoffs hit. This is the goal towards which they should strive.

Let the order of 82 fall as best it can. The last 16-28 weigh more, and the Blazers will then be on an even footing.

Thanks for the question! Be sure to send yours to blazersub@gmail.com!

ADVERTISEMENT