Followill: My Mavs Schedule Analysis
So after a false start on this schedule review thingy back in the summer (that original schedule is long-forgotten), we now all have in our hands (or on our computers, right here) the hastily put together 66-game schedule that the NBA will roll out for its abbreviated 2011-12 season.
My excitement for this schedule release is clearly higher as I know this one will actually be played and we can resume the business of celebrating the 2011 Dallas Mavericks title and look forward to trying to defend it.
The overriding story for the Mavericks and every team is just how compressed this schedule is. Just do the math. We're losing seven-and-a-half weeks on the front end and tacking on a week on the back end. So the season is about six-and-a-half weeks shorter than normal. Had the Mavs previously-released 82-game schedule just picked up on Christmas Day, then 55 games would have been played. Tack on the extra week at the end and you would say that in the time they expect to typically play around 58-59 games, they are cramming in 66.
So since the crowded nature of the schedule is the big story let's examine that first.
In a normal 82-game schedule, 20 back-to-backs would be average to slightly-above-average. In this schedule, the Mavs get 20 back-to-back sets and they face one back-to-back-to-back on a road trip to Phoenix, Sacramento and Golden State on March 8th, 9th, and 10th.
Oh, and they face 43 of the 66 games as part of some sort of back-to-back situation!
The dreaded four-games-in-five-nights, which in most seasons happens once or twice and maybe at worst three times, will happen four times in this compressed schedule AND the Mavs have a stretch of five games in six nights, which includes the three-games-in-three-nights trip out West.
If you look at that segment a little further you will find that it's actually part of a murderous nine games in 12 nights for the Mavs coming out of the All-Star break.
The question then is how does a ridiculously tight, back-to-back-loaded 66-game schedule hurt or help a veteran-laden team?
At the end of the day (thanks for the use of your crutch phrase, LeBron) I think the Mavs can still get through this OK. While, yes, it is fair to assume that the older Mavs might trip up some because of so many back-to-backs, those in the core that will come back demonstrated their ability to win on the road in last year's run, going 7-3 away from home in postseason play.
So if the regular season record suffers a little at the expense of some extra rest then I don't think that's necessarily bad. For these older legs, 16 games less of wear and tear can help.
My hope is the Mavs can manage the workload, that Coach Carlisle can pick spots to rest the heavy lifters, stay healthy, develop some chemistry and be prepared to peak when the postseason gets going in late April.
Hopefully that isn't too much to ask.
It's not like the Mavs are alone in this endeavor as obviously everyone is going to get their ass kicked by this schedule to some degree.
As far as who they will be playing:
The 6 West teams Dallas will play 4 times (DEN, LAL, OKC, PHX, SA, Utah)
The 4 West teams who will visit Dallas only once, in case you really like these teams or have a relative or friend playing for them (MIN, NO, GS, MEM)
The 4 West teams Dallas will visit only once, in case you are in one of those cities and want to see the champs (SAC, HOU, LAC, POR)
The 9 East home games (BOS, CHA, IND, MIA, MIL, NJ, NY, TOR, WSH)
The 9 East road games (ATL, BOS, CHI, CLE, DET, MIA, NY, ORL, PHI)
The East teams Dallas plays twice (BOS, MIA, NY)
I don't obviously have the information yet but I will put it our for DB.com readers and on my Twitter in a couple of days when I get it about the difficulty of Dallas' schedule as it relates to others.
My hunch is that with Dallas playing a) the Spurs, Lakers, Nuggets and Thunder four times and b) from the East the only teams they are playing twice are three of the top six from last year, the Mavs are going to rank pretty high up the list in terms of strength-of-schedule based on opponent winning percentage from last year.
So there you have it. Stay tuned for local television broadcast details in the days ahead also as we look forward to a most special year of Mavs broadcasting. (With DB.com's own Mike Fisher, of course, as part of the Fox Sports Southwest Mavs team, too!) There's more analysis to be done (Chuck Cooperstein is coming up on DB.com with his thoughts) but it looks like I need to get busy doing some laundry for all these trips I have to get ready for.
Luckily, I have plenty of Mavs Championship gear to wear!
Mark Followill is the TV play-by-play voice of the Mavs and a columnist at DallasBasketball.com.
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