The NBA confirmed this weekend that a 66- game season would begin December 25th and end a week later than normal on April 26th. Every team won’t play each other at least twice, instead teams will play 48 games within their conference and 18 games out of conference so there’s a chance San Antonio Spurs fans won’t get to see teams like the Celtics, Heat or Knicks in San Antonio. We also found out for sure that each team will play at least one stretch of back-to-back-to-back games.
More interesting than those dates is the fact that free agency and training camp start on the same day. This means certain teams are going to be at an advantage when the season starts. We’re talking about teams that have the bulk of their team coming back with the same coach in place. These teams include the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls. Last year the Bulls and Spurs got off to unexpected hot starts. This year we should expect it. While all three teams have weaknesses, one thing all three will have is institutional memory, which will be beneficial at least for the first month or two of the season, which turns out is half the season in this case.
Other teams will struggle out of the gates. As ESPN’s Ric Bucher tweeted the Hornets only have six guys under contract. The Celtics have seven. I know we’re all used to the Lakers coming out of the gates strong, but now they’ve only got two weeks to learn Lakers coach Mike Brown’s system and I think it’s safe to say Brown’s system is drastically different than Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense. That isn’t to say the Lakers won’t be there at the end, but the first month of the season could be rough for them.
The countdown is on, only 11 days till the start of free agency and training camp!