There are a number of unique elements to the NBA this season, most of which the league hopes will be just a temporary change, like a December start date, putting the schedule out in segments, and, obviously, the lack of fans in arenas.
However, one change that could be around to stay is the league having teams play two-game series in the same market. It was a change made to limit travel for exposure reasons, but it’s something that the NBA should consider moving forward because even in non-pandemic years, fewer flights and less travel are a good thing for players.
Coaches are a big fan of the series format as well, as it simplifies game prep by not needing to turnaround a new gameplan for a new team in a day or two, and also allows for some tweaks to that plan between games once you’ve learned from the first. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau expressed his appreciation for the two-game sets prior to Monday’s game in Chicago, where they’ll face the Bulls again on Wednesday, and said it’s something he’s heard from a lot of others around the league.
Tom Thibodeau says he hopes that the two-game series are "here to stay." Says he thinks most of the people in the league like it, also.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) February 1, 2021
It makes sense and it is something that the NBA should consider, given they’ve been working in recent years to try and cut down on travel and back-to-backs. Having teams play in the same market provides greater rest opportunities, along with the benefits coaches seem to see from the series format, and it’s actually a bit of a surprise that the league didn’t look into playing more of them this year than they did. The league could go more aggressively towards the series format by adopting more of a baseball type schedule that has interleague (in this case interconference) games taking place all at the same time, which would allow for an in-conference segment of the season for more series.
That seems unlikely but could be something they explore. At the very least, though, it seems they should look into keeping the series format they adopted this year because it’s a hit with the coaches and players.