The Clippers schedule at first glance

Christian Petersen

All schedules are more or less the same, but at first glance, the Clippers schedule this season is slightly more favorable in a few key elements than in years past.

I've had a little time to look over the 2013-14 schedule for the Los Angeles Clippers, and at this point I think it's safe to say that it looks a lot like every other NBA schedule I've ever seen. That's because there's never that much variation in the schedule, as it is designed to be balanced and to follow certain guidelines. Still, there are a few things worth pointing out in that "It's August, what the hell else do we have to talk about" sort of way.

As we've pointed out before, the NBA schedule has very little real variation. Teams plays against opponents from the opposite conference twice each, home and away, and they play most of the teams in their own conference four times each, two home games and two away games. Each season there are however three in-conference opponents that teams play just three times, accounting for some variance in the schedule. This season the Clippers "miss" a game against the Spurs, Grizzlies, Blazers and Jazz. Considering that the Spurs and Grizzlies met in the Western Conference Finals last season and are expected to be among the top teams in the conference again this year, I'd say those are two good teams to leave off the schedule if you had to choose. The Jazz on the other hand could be among the worst teams in the conference after gutting their roster this off-season, but you can't have it all.

There are two other minor differences between this year's schedule and the boiler-plate Clippers schedule we're used to seeing. For one thing, the last few seasons the Clippers have had a very home-friendly opening to the season. That is not the case this year, as the team has a relatively neutral schedule early, with a seven game road trip in early December that skews things towards away games. The other big difference is that the Grammy's are in late January this year -- why does that matter? Because the Grammy's are usually in February, and because STAPLES Center is given over to the staging of the event and the ceremony itself, the Clippers always depart for a long road trip in February. That trip, combined with the All Star break, has at times made for an entire month where the Clippers barely step foot on their own home court. This year, the Grammy trip is relatively short by past standards -- seven games in late January.

In the constant rivalry with the Lakers, the Clippers made some progress regarding the schedule this season. The less established/more talented NBA team from L.A. plays 17 back-to-backs this season, compared to 19 B2Bs for the more established/less talented team. That's quite a change. Also, both L.A. teams are on national TV 27 times by my count, with the Lakers being on the big networks (ABC/ESPN/TNT) three more times than the Clippers. (Note that Eric Patten of Clippers.com says it's 29 TV games for the Clippers this year, but I only counted 27 myself.)

I'll look at the month-by-month break down next, but for now, I've definitely seen worse. Seven game road trips, while never fun, are more manageable than the eight and nine gamers the Clippers have invariably dealt with in years past. And the April schedule the Clippers close the season with -- which includes five of their final six games at home -- should give them a great chance to take some momentum into the playoffs.

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