An NBA schedule "unlike any other -- short, compressed, frantic, unwieldy in some spots and incomplete in others -- was finally unveiled" last night, and it "may be greeted with as much angst as excitement," according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. Teams will "sometimes play on three consecutive nights" and some teams "will play five games in six nights." NBA teams "have not had to play on three consecutive nights since the last lockout-shortened season" in '99. Every team "will play at least one back-to-back-to-back set" and 11 teams "will have the burden of doing it twice" Beck notes the schedule "will not be balanced, or particularly sane." Each team "will play just 18 out-of-conference games, which means every team will skip six cities." Chicago fans "will not see Kobe Bryant," while Thunder F Kevin Durant "will not make it to Madison Square Garden." The Mavericks "will not make it to Washington, denying them the chance to make the traditional White House visit afforded to defending champions." But the NBA "clearly had one eye on the ratings as it fashioned the new schedule." The Lakers "will play the usual two-game series with the Heat, the Celtics and the Knicks." The league is also "maximizing Miami’s star power," sending the team "to all of the major markets" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7). The Nets and Magic "had been due to play regular-season games at the O2 Arena as part of an effort to promote basketball in the lead up to the Olympics," but those games "have fallen victim to the labour dispute." It is "still planned for the NBA to return to the UK for pre-season games in 2012 and 2013" (PA, 12/6). USA TODAY's Zillgitt & Falgoust report the All-Star Game "remains Feb. 26 in Orlando" (USA TODAY, 12/7). NBA TV's Vince Cellini said, “It was a monumental task by the league to try to construct this thing and make sure this condensed schedule would work" ("GameTime," NBA TV, 12/6).
I'LL BE MISSING YOU: In Phoenix, Paul Coro notes the Suns are "the only team that will not have a home game this season against Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York or Orlando." Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver said, "When the preliminary schedule came out, I asked the league to reconsider and they didn’t. You’ve got to factor in all the arenas and timelines, and they weren’t able to move dates around." Sarver noted that the Suns "will get two home games against the Lakers, Mavericks, Clippers and Spurs" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 12/7). In Toronto, Doug Smith notes the "list of teams not paying a visit to the Air Canada Centre this season is at least as significant as the names of the ones that will." The Suns, Thunder, Clippers and Mavericks will not play the Raptors in Toronto this season, and those four "virtually certain sellouts will undoubtedly put a crimp in the attendance figures" (TORONTO STAR, 12/7). Also in Toronto, Mike Ganter notes that is "four quality teams MLSE won’t get a chance to cash in on so you know ownership can’t be too happy with the schedule either." The "good news is season ticket holders will not be asked to pay to see the New Orleans Hornets or the Utah Jazz" (TORONTO SUN, 12/7). In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell notes the team "most prominent among the home absences" for the Bobcats are the Lakers, a "guaranteed sellout." The Bobcats will also miss home games against the Mavericks and Thunder (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/7). In Ft. Worth, Dwain Price wrote under the header, "No Rose Or Howard For Mavs Fans: Bah Humbug" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 12/6). In Milwaukee, Charles Gardner notes Bucks fans "will not get a chance to see Dirk Nowitzki and the defending league champion Dallas Mavericks, and they also will miss the Los Angeles Clippers and reigning rookie of the year Blake Griffin" (MILWUAKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/7). In N.Y., Steve Adamek notes Knicks F Carmelo Anthony "will not return to Denver for a visit this season," nor will F Amar'e Stoudemire "go back to his old home in Phoenix" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7).
THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: USA TODAY's Zillgitt & Falgoust note the NBA yesterday releasted its "231-game national TV schedule on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV, which is subject to change later in the season." The Celtics "are featured 31 times, followed by the Lakers and Bulls at 29, the Knicks and Heat at 27, the Mavericks at 26 and the Thunder and Magic at 24." The Raptors and Cavaliers "are on the TV schedule but only once each" (USA TODAY, 12/7). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman notes the Heat "have the maximum six games on ABC, the maximum 10 on ESPN and the maximum nine on TNT." The Heat are also scheduled "for two games on NBA TV, with 10 possible additional Tuesday broadcasts that are selected in a fan poll." A team can appear on NBA TV "a maximum of nine times" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 12/7). On Long Island, Alan Hahn notes the Knicks will "open the season on TNT, the first of seven games on the network, play 10 games on ESPN and four on the coveted ABC Sunday afternoon schedule, starting Feb. 19" against the Mavericks (NEWSDAY, 12/7).
BOWING TO TV: ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote, "You knew the NBA would do everything possible to keep its television partners happy and preserve as many marquee matchups as possible." The "flip side is that teams that aren't big ratings draws don't have to face powerhouses from the opposing conference twice." It carries a "hint of the NFL, where schedules are unbalanced based on the past season's record, and can sometimes facilitate last-place-to-first-place turnarounds" (ESPN.com, 12/6). The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Bonnell wrote it was "quite predictable the league would maximize the inventory for ABC, ESPN and TNT." Bonnell: "Good business? Sure. ... But of course the losers in that bargain are small-market teams like the Charlotte Bobcats who don't get a lot of sure sellouts" (CHARLOTTE.com, 12/6). In Dallas, Eddie Sefko notes it is "true that there are many variables at work in making an NBA schedule, especially when it has to be reworked to accommodate the lockout." But these days, "arenas have conversions from hockey to basketball down to an art form." Sefko: "There would have been nothing wrong with playing some afternoon games on weekends. And, of course, the NBA still found a way to stick a five-day All-Star break in the middle of the season" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/7).