After a KG-to-Boston related delay of a couple of days, the NBA announced the schedule for the upcoming season yesterday. The big news? The NBA's short-lived Kobe vs. Shaq Christmas day tradition is no more. Truthfully, as traditions go, it was no 'stand in the return line at WalMart for 3 hours.' And if you think the KG trade didn't affect the Clippers, take a look at Thursday, Dec. 27. Think TNT was going to broadcast Boston at Seattle over Suns at Clippers before the Big Ticket went to the C's?
It's no surprise that the Clippers will not be on national TV as much as they were last season. Of course, they will be on significantly more than any season before 2006, so there's that. Last year, the Clippers were on ABC (1), ESPN (4) and TNT (5) a combined 10 times. This year that total is down to 5 - 1 TNT meeting against the Lakers and 4 ESPN games. They also play 7 games on NBATV.
West coast teams have one advantage on the National TV schedule - with only 6 teams in the Pacific time zone, and 3 in the Mountain time zone, the second game of weeknight double headers should come from one of those 9 cities (out of 30 NBA teams). But with the success of most of the far West teams last season, and the arrivals of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant in the Northwest, it's really no surprise that the Clippers and the Kings are the least desirable TV teams.
Of course, it doesn't much matter to ClipsNation, who will be watching Prime/FSN/KTLA and listening to Ralph and Mike (who are infinitely better than anyone on ESPN anyway). But it is a measure of respect, and I remain convinced that a player like Elton Brand suffers in All Star fan voting, and yes, All-NBA media voting, from a lack of exposure. Oh well.
As for the schedule itself, in the NBA there's not a lot the schedule makers can do for / to you. The four Western Conference teams the Clippers play three times (instead of the usual four) are Seattle, Portland, Houston and San Antonio - two playoff teams, and two non-playoff teams from last season. In one scheduling quirk, the Clippers don't take a trip to Houston until the final day of the season, postponing an awkward dinner for Cat Mobley at Steve Francis' house. And for those of us who can't wait for the season to get under way, the really bad news is that the Clippers are one of a handful of teams whose first game is Friday, Nov. 2, three full days after the season kicks off.
Speaking of the first game, the schedulers have nicely bookended the season with Golden State. Given that the two teams battled for the final playoff spot in the West until the last day of the season last year, opening the season with the Dubs, and then traveling to Oakland for a March 12 meeting on the last weekend of the regular season could be incredibly significant.
19 sets of back-to-backs is pretty much par for the course (the Clippers played 21 last season). Of course, with the team's inexplicable success in the second game of back to back's last year, maybe we should be asking for more of those.
Ten of the first 16 games are at home, followed by nine out of 12 on the road during a pretty brutal December. At the end of 2007, the Clippers will have played 29 games - 14 at home, and 15 on the road.
January is incredibly friendly, with 11 out of 14 games from Dec. 31 until Jan. 30 in Staples Center, and winnable road games at Memphis and New Orleans. Of course the team will pay for that the rest of the season with lots of road games. In fact, write down March 5, 2008. After a home game against the Kings that night, the Clippers had better be at least 10 games over .500, because if they're not, they are going to be in big trouble. 15 of the final 22 games are on the road - a very tough formula for entering the playoffs with momentum.