Utah Jazz: NBA's shortened, frantic-paced season may help Jazz
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — NBA fans are about to go from a famine to a feast when it comes to the basketball buffet.
The modified 2011-12 schedule won't be released until the new collective bargaining agreement is officially ratified by players and owners this week. But the NBA announced a few interesting details Sunday, pending approval.
To sum up the forthcoming schedule, it's going to be a hoops smorgasbord.
And an irregular season, for sure.
The 66-game schedule will begin on Dec. 25 — for six teams, but not the Utah Jazz — and will conclude on April 28.
Teams will play 48 conference games and 18 nonconference games, including at least one game against every team in the league.
The conference breakdown includes four games against six teams (no doubt including division squads) and three games apiece against the other eight teams.
In nonconference action, teams will only have home-and-away series with three opponents. They'll also face six teams once at home, with the other six coming on the road.
Because of the truncated time frame, all 30 NBA teams will be required to play back-to-back-to-back sets (at least once but no more than three times).
Asked for his thoughts on the condensed schedule and the unusual three-games-in-three-nights curveball, Jazz swingman C.J. Miles responded:
"My only thought is I'm happy we are gonna get to play."
If the Jazz make it back the playoffs after a year off, their postseason might start two days after the season-finale on April 28.
To help push the playoffs along and finish by June 26, it is possible teams will play back-to-backs in the second round.
Nothing is set in stone, but it's believed teams will play a couple of preseason games the week before Christmas after reporting to camp on Dec. 9.
So, what does this all mean?
From personal experience, Jerry Sloan believes it puts aging teams at a disadvantage.
Sorry, Spurs, Celtics and Lakers.
The shortened 50-game season doomed his creaky-boned Senior Jazz team in 1999 after that lockout. Coming off of back-to-back Finals appearances with their formidable Stockton-to-Malone team intact, Utah entered the year as a post-Michael Jordan title favorite but wore down from the frantic pace.
"Teams that usually win championships are usually older, veteran teams," Sloan said this month at his Utah Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
"You shorten the season down," he added, "(and) I think younger teams have a much better chance of winning."
This is one case when fresher legs can trump veteran experience.
Out with the old, win with the new.
Sloan believes that, because, yes, he vividly remembers a baby-faced Tim Duncan leading San Antonio to that '99 championship.
This time around, Sloan pointed out Kevin Durant's team as being a possible benefactor of the schedule squeezing.
"You look at a team like Oklahoma City, a young team," Sloan said. "You get them in a short race, they can be pretty dangerous because they have terrific young talent."
For those not doing the math at home, the new NBA schedule spans 124 days and will have teams playing every 1.9 nights.
In comparison, the Jazz were slated to play every 2.1 days in the now-scrapped regularly scheduled season, which was supposed to run from Nov. 1 through April 18 (82 games in 171 days).
That means Utah will play 66 games in two weeks less time than previously planned in this abridged 124-day Plan B.
Considering they'll be one of the youngest teams in the NBA — with promising up-and-comers like Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter — maybe that will turn out to be a good thing for the Jazz.
NBA schedule breakdown
Conference Games: 48
Play 6 teams 4 times (2 home, 2 away)
Play 4 teams 3 times (2 home, 1 away)
Play 4 teams 3 times (1 home, 2 away)
Nonconference Games: 18
Play 3 teams 2 times (1 home, 1 away)
Play 6 teams 1 time at home
Play 6 teams 1 time away
Back-to-back-to-backs: All teams with at least 1; no more than 3
Playoff back-to-backs: Possible in second round
Schedule released: Later this week, pending CBA ratification
Season starts: Dec. 25
Season ends: April 26
Playoffs start: April 28
Last possible Finals date: June 26
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