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Implications of a 66-game season

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#1 Favian Pua


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    Posted 02 December 2011 - 03:51 PM

    The abbreviated season posts various concerns for all 30 teams. It will be a chemistry catastrophe for some, an injury issue for others, and a fatigue factor for yet another group. Others will be unfortunate enough to deal with all three problems. As games are bunched up together, four games in five nights as well as back-to-back-to-backs will be the norm among the schedulers' templates, rather than the exception.

    Here is how the Rockets fared on back-to-back nights in 2010-2011 split by month:
    October: 0-2
    November: 2-4
    December: 5-3
    January: 2-8
    February: 6-2
    March: 3-3
    April: 0-2
    Total: 18-24

    In those 42 games, the Rockets played 30 away from the confines of the Toyota Center, going 12-18 (.400). So when the team's 18-23 (.439) road record from the previous season is factored into the equation, the Rockets seem to be at par. However, the true litmus test is the team's record on the second night of back-to-backs. The Rockets only went 7-14 (.333), a legitimate concern that is overlooked.

    Houston relies heavily on scoring, posting 106.7 points per game, the second highest clip given 0 days rest only behind the Knicks. Take into the consideration their seventh-fastest pace and this is a team that tries to outscore their opponents to win. Much easier said than done when on the road, as the defense has to play a bigger role. I'm looking at you, Luis Scola.

    Here is the breakdown of the Rockets' win-loss record from both conferences in 2010-2011:
    West: 25-27
    East: 18-12
    Total: 43-39

    Why is this crucial? The proposed schedule mandated for 2011-2012 will comprise of 48 games within the conference and 18 outside of it. There will be teams who will not be able to play in all 30 arenas as well. If we were to extrapolate last season's data and input it in a vacuum for the upcoming season, this is how it would look like (wins rounded down instead of up):

    West (48 games): 23-25
    East (18 games): 10-8
    Total: 33-33

    The numbers show that Houston, as much of the other Western teams, would not be able to capitalize on their dominance against the Bobcats and Cavaliers as much as they would have preferred to. It would end up with them cannibalizing each other even more frequently than the usual to grab a hold of the top eight seeds. In an ultra-competitive West, a 43-39 slate did not cut it last year, so a .500 finish has a fat chance of getting them past mid-April.

    To catalyze the debate even further, NBA.com has already released their post-lockout Power Rankings. As of Week 1, the Rockets are ranked 16th.

    #2 Carrol Dawson


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      Posted 03 December 2011 - 02:44 AM

      so what you're saying is...we're screwed.

      #3 Guest_Brookaveli_*

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      Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:18 AM

      I'm glad you crunched these numbers, but it would be interesting to see how these compare with the rest of the NBA. I expect that most teams play worse on the road / on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, and especially with the two combined. I would also expect that the teams better than us in the West likely dominated the East at a higher clip than we did last year, so they would have even less estimated "total wins" by your count.

      I think what will happen is that veteran teams without coaching turnover will start off a little faster, but that in the end, the deeper teams will have more success. Star-heavy teams will be hurt much more if they have injuries, because missing a week this year will result in more missed games than last year, and the shorter season will mean that a higher percentage of the team's games will be missed for each injury. It will be interesting to see how well Morey has been able to work with McHale to get him up to speed on our roster during the lockout. I think that the coaching change and any sort of gap between what players can do and what coaches think they can do (or unfamiliarity with the system) will be initially the toughest thing to overcome.

      #4 Favian Pua


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        Posted 05 December 2011 - 11:49 AM

        View PostBrookaveli, on 04 December 2011 - 05:18 AM, said:

        I would also expect that the teams better than us in the West likely dominated the East at a higher clip than we did last year, so they would have even less estimated "total wins" by your count.

        In addition to your statement, also consider how the Rockets will proportionally be playing more games against their Southwest Division squads compared to a "normal" season. With three of those four teams playing on high intensity and another (NOLA) on the brink of making the playoffs, there will be a smaller margin for error as compared to say, playing teams in the Pacific Division not named Lakers.

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