Throughout the NBA lockout, David Stern said repeatedly that he and the owners would be willing to lose the season if that is what it took to get what they deemed to be a “fair” deal. While those claims by Stern would most likely have come to fruition if the two sides didn’t come to a last-minute agreement, once a deal was in place, Stern wanted to maximize the number of games played this season. It was announced that the NBA would have a 66-game season this year stretching from Christmas Day until the end of April.
During a regular NBA season, teams usually open their training camps sometime during the last week of September. They then play about six or seven preseason games throughout the month of October before opening the regular season at the end of the month. This month between when training camp opens and when games begin allows players to get in game shape and prepare for the rigors of an 82-game schedule. However, this year there will be just over two weeks between the start of training camp and Opening Day. At this point most of the players are not close to game shape, and many may be simply out of shape – and having two weeks to get players ready for a season is just simply not enough time. Their bodies will struggle to adjust that quickly, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see some sloppy basketball in the first few weeks.
While the limited training camp time is a concern for the players, the biggest test they will face is the sheer number of games they will have to play in a condensed period of time. Every team in the NBA will have to play a back-to-back-to-back set at some point this season, and according to a tweet from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday night, “One league official says there are seven NBA teams that have two stretches of five games in six nights this season.”
Playing that type of schedule will be brutal, even for some of the world’s best athletes. Most teams look sluggish on the second day of a back-to-back, so imagine how exhausting it will be for teams to play three games in a row, or five games in six days. I think the condensed schedule provides a huge advantage to younger teams this season, and teams with a small window to win a championship (Boston, San Antonio, and Dallas come to mind) will be significantly disadvantaged when compared to younger squads.