Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 - The NBA Season Time Will Forget

Anyone who loves to dig at the Spurs usually points out that their 1999 NBA Championship should come with an asterisk. After all, a labor dispute shaved the season down to 50 games, it was the season after Michael Jordan's last game with the Bulls and the Spurs met 8th-seeded New York in the Finals.

The championship does count, but the season is usually forgotten among the lore of other seasons. No one mentions anything about San Antonio's 2003, 2005 or 2007 titles being tainted in any way.

The 66-game season that we are currently going through is a big jump from the 50 games on '99 so there may not be as much of a chatter about this season not having the worth of other ones. Sure, there is still 16 games missing on each team's sked and the season hasn't found any rhythm yet but there should be a better sample set once we get to the postseason.

But what will we see when we get there? These teams are cramming a ton of games in a very short amount of time. Guys who are carrying their teams right now (read: Kobe Bryant) could completely run out of gas by the time April arrives. Sure, everyone gets that three-games-in-a-row stretch which is hell, but it is all of those 4-games-in-5-nights that are really putting wear on teams and players.

I am a Laker fan, so let's use them as an example.

They opened the season ... OPENED THE SEASON ... with three games in three nights. With minimal training camp and conditioning, they had to open up the season with three straight games (which included them in LA, then Sacramento, then LA again). One day off and then another game.

From December 25th to January 14th ... a span of 21 days ... the Lakers played 14 games. The Lakers will play 17 games in January alone (add that last week of December, and the Lakers will have played 22 games in 5 1/2 weeks). They will play 17 again in March. Believe me, I'm not saying the Lakers are the only ones with it tough. I'm just using them because they are my team.

NOTE: My favorite stretch of the Lakers season is in April. The Lakers will play the Spurs THREE TIMES in a 10 day stretch.

The Nets had to start the season with 6 games in 8 days and FOUR of them on the road. The Thunder's 14 games featured 12 against teams who were playoff teams last year (look at their record and you can be even more impressed). The Bucks opened the season with 12 of 18 on the road. The Bobcats are in the middle of playing 11 games in 15 days. The Sacramento Kings will enter the All Star Break playing 21 games on the road and just 11 at home. How about the Hawks who had to play the Bulls and Heat TWICE EACH in a five day stretch??? (HT: SB Nation for the info).

It goes on and on and everyone faces stiff challenges. So it is fair in that sense. But is it really fair when pretty much 16 teams will enter the playoffs as shells of themselves? I mean, the NBA season has always been a grind and a survival of the fittest but this season takes it up quite a notch.

Whomever ends up winning the title will certainly deserve it even if not everyone gives them their due.

Even if it is the Miami Heat.

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