This post is a compilation of analysis and breakdown of 2012 schedule in the hours after it was released. To view the official schedule visit the Nuggets website at NBA.com. If you prefer a printable version of the schedule to reference click here for a link to the PDF. Scroll down to read updates and new developments on all things schedule related.
66 game schedule by the Numbers
- The Nuggets will play 2 of the dreaded back-to-backs (3 in a row). All teams play at least one and no more than 3.
- Aside from those 2 strecthes of 3-in-a-row, The Nuggets also play 13 (see sorry explanation for poor counting below) 16 traditional back-to-backs (2 in a row).
- The Nuggets play 5 games in 6 nights once, an absolutely brutal stretch including a home-and-home with the Lakers as part of their first back-to-back-to-back. This is at the very start of the season spanning December 28th – January 2nd. Right after this they have 1 day off then play another 3 games in 4 days. Like I said, what a brutal stretch early.
- Although there’s only 1 stretch of the aforementioned 5 games in 6 nights, Nuggets have to play 4 games in 5 nights 3 times.
- Substantial road trips – 5 game east coast swing in late January. 7 game marathon road trip at the end of March (only one back-to-back set in this though)
- Substantial home stand – 9 straight games in mid-March, right before the big 7 game trip.
Month by Month breakdown
Here’s a list of how many total games played in each month, and how many of those are road games
- December – 4 games, 3 road
- January – 17 games, 8 road
- February – 15 games, 7 road
- March – 16 games, 7 road
- April – 14 games, 8 road
National TV Appearances
- 7 games broadcast nationally on ESPN – vs Miami, vs Lakers, at OKC, at San Antonio, at Utah, at Golden State, at Phoenix
- Only 2 appearances on TNT – at LA Clippers, vs Dallas
- 5 games on NBA TV (all roadies) – at New York Knicks, at Portland, at Indiana, at Chicago, at Orlando
Observations and Analysis
Guys, please leave your thoughts on the schedule here. Here’s my initial snap take – We open up with maybe the hardest stretch in the NBA in the first 2 weeks. Then we are extremely road heavy at the end of the season – 13 of our last 19 games are on the road. This is a really difficult way to start and end the season.
Update (9:24 MST)
The East portion of the schedule is interesting. Denver does not play any elite teams twice. The Nuggets’ three opponents from the boring conference are Milwaukee, Toronto and Orlando. Milwaukee is decent and Toronto is bad, which seems to make things a little easier. The key with both Orlando games is they are in April. Translation, no Dwight Howard. Depending on who Orlando receives for Mr. DPOY those games could turn out to be much less difficult than in the past.
As far as the other high caliber teams in the East Denver gets to play Miami, Boston and Atlanta at home in their singular contests. They play the Bulls and Knicks on the road. That means no defending MVP and the next time you get to see Carmelo Anthony not help on defense or choose to shoot a contested jumper in lieu of passing at the Pepsi Center it will be no sooner than November of 2012.
The other eastern conference teams Denver plays at home are Cleveland and Detroit. The other road only teams are New Jersey (no Nene in Denver this season either if my best guess of where he ends up is correct), Philly, there will be no John Wall sightings at The Can as Washington is a road only team while Indy and Chicago are the other teams who will not have to play in the Mile High altitude of Denver.
Update (12:09 MST 12/7/2011)
Here are my final schedule tidbits:
Physically the schedule will be taxing, but the question is, is it more taxing for Denver or their opponents. There are two demanding stretches, the first of which is to open the season when the Nuggets play nine games in the first 13 days, plus they must travel for seven of the nine contests. Denver also closes out the “first half” of the season on a rough patch playing seven games in 10 nights heading into the All-Star break. To make things worse they must travel for each of the last six games.
Denver has 18 back to backs, which is three more than I counted on my phone during my daughter’s Christmas choir concert. Not my finest moment in more than one respect. Conversely, Denver’s opponents face the Nuggets 21 times after playing the night before.
Despite the fact Denver plays 31 of their 66 games after the All-Star break, they only have five back to backs during those 31 games. They only have two back to back games in the first 20 post All-Star contests. Plus both of the back to back sets to close out the season are preceded by two off days. Physically speaking the second half of the schedule seems to be much easier.
On the other hand, Denver twice has to play three games in three nights and they never receive the benefit of playing a team who is on their third game in three nights. Further pain will be induced by the fact that the last night of the first set of three games in three nights will also be their fifth game in six nights. The second set is somewhat more merciful as they only play one game in the two days prior to the brutal three games in three nights extravaganza.
Digging deeper the Nuggets have six instances of three games in three nights (not counting instances where one of the games in a stretch of three games in four nights is counted again to create another group of three games in four nights because that falls under five games in seven nights). Denver also has one stretch of five games in seven nights which unfortunately wraps up with their lone battle against Carmelo in New York. The Knicks will be at the end of a four games in six nights stint and it is the second night of a back to back, however, all four of those games are at MSG while Denver will have traveled for their fourth straight game.
Denver then has the aforementioned seven game in ten night experience heading into the All-Star break.
Things look a little tougher for the opposition. Denver plays teams nine times when the game is their third in four nights. Four times they play a team conducting their fourth game in five days and thrice they face off with a team enduring their fourth conflagration in six days.
If you are looking for what should be an entertaining basketball game, I would recommend the February four interdivision battle at the Pepsi Center between Denver and Portland. It is the first game for both after the All-Star break. Apart from that I suggest you watch the April 4 game at New Orleans. Sure there might not be a lot of talent on the floor depending on what happens with both teams over the next couple of weeks, but it is the only other time other than the Portland game all season where Denver plays a team where both have had more than one day of rest prior to the game.
Honestly, that may be going a bit too far. There are actually 34 games on the schedule where both the Nuggets and their opponent is playing after a day of rest. That is actually a pleasant surprise. I would have expected that number to be much lower. Denver has nine back to backs against a team who had a day off. However, they have 12 games against an opponent who had a game the night before while Denver had the luxury of resting.
In conclusion there are a few games bound to be very ugly. As nice as it will be to play Portland after the All-Star break when both teams are rested, the contest in Portland on February 4 may not be so pretty. Denver is playing on their third straight night, and fourth game in five nights, while Portland is playing their fourth game in six nights. The March 5th game in Denver against Sacramento will be ugly with Denver in their third game in four nights, while Sacramento is on their fourth game in five nights. Plus both teams play on the road the night before.
In fact, you might want to skip both games where Sacramento comes to Denver. The January 4th game could be worse with both teams playing their fourth game in five nights. The only good news is Denver has an off day prior to the contest due to the fact they wrap up their first three games in three nights on January 2. Speaking of which, do not expect Denver to do very well on the second day of January as they play Milwaukee in the previously mentioned third game in three nights while the Bucks have two days off.
The absolute worst game of the season will likely be the last game before the All-Star break. The Nuggets will be wrapping up their stint of seven games in ten days while the Spurs will roll into the Pepsi Center playing their ninth straight road game. At least the Spurs have an off day heading into the game, but Denver has travel from Los Angeles after battling the Clippers. That is right, Greg Popovich will be pleased to know that Denver is the team facing the dreaded game in the Pacific time zone the night before playing at Altitude in Denver. I would not recommend recording that one.
Update (12:25 MST 12/7/2011)
I forgot to note the breakdown of which teams Denver plays from the west.
Four games (two home and two away) – Dallas, the Lakers, New Orleans, the Clippers, Houston, and Minnesota.
Three games (two at home and one on the road) – Utah, Sacramento, Golden State and Phoenix.
Three games (one at home and two on the road) – Portland, San Antonio, Memphis and Oklahoma City.
Update (1:10 MST 12/7/2011)
After finally digesting the schedule as a whole I find myself more and more convinced it’s not nearly as bad it seems. Jeremy did a great job of explaining how many opponents will be catching the Nuggets towards the end of their own rough patches of season. Denver plays rested at home a comfortable amount of times in situations like these. Of course, like any good Nuggets fan knows our hopes are likely to fall apart by virtue of the fact that half of the games must be played in other arenas. If we make the assumption that there will be some sort of playoff push extending into April, then the season likely rests on Denver’s ability to be at least an average performing road team. That has not happened consistently in the George Karl era. Main points to take away from the schedule – the Eastern conference portion of it can be described as weak. There is an advantage over other Western teams there. In the more competitive conference, things look a bit tougher. The schedule does seem heavier on the “older” contending teams like the Lakers and Dallas, but that may not be all bad.
On a final note, I share Jeremy’s sentiment that we are in for some rough-looking games in terms of quality basketball. I think this is going to get ugly for everyone. Mark my words here, I think injury concerns might prove to be as big an issue as having a good team when it comes to making the playoffs. Keep in mind, the new CBA isn’t even done yet and it’s less than 3 weeks until this hectic slate of games will be underway