The first post I did at PtR was a season preview two years ago. It was a long rambling mess. Just a mess. I'm glad I can't find a copy of it. One part that I did like, though, was the schedule analysis. I tried to find the easy parts of the schedule and the tough parts of the schedule so that I could later match them with the Spurs record.
Month by month, here were my picks and the results:
November - ATS: 10-6. Reality: 9-7
- December - ATS: 9-6. Reality: 11-4
- January - ATS: 9-6. Reality: 12-3
- February - ATS: 7-4. Reality: 7-4
- March - ATS: 12-5. Reality: 9-8
- April - ATS: 6-2 Reality: 6-2
Let's take a look at 2010 (follow along with the schedule)...
I think three things need to be considered when you look at a schedule:
- Who you play. The Kings aren't tough, the Blazers are.
How often you play. Four games in five nights is tough. Playing on two days rest is not.
- Where you play. The Jazz in Utah are a hell of a lot tougher than the Jazz in San Antonio.
For this post I am grouping the teams as follows:
West Powers: Lakers, Nuggets, Mavs, Blazers (and Spurs)
- West Could-Bes: Jazz, Hornets
West Leftovers: Suns, Clippers, Thunder, Warriors, Rockets
- West Patsies: Grizz, T-Wolves, Kings
- East Powers: Celtics, Cavs, Magic
- East Could-Bes: Hawks
- East Leftovers: Wizards, Heat, Raptors, Sixers, Pistons
- East Patsies: Knicks, Bobcats, Bulls, Bucks, Pacers, Nets
- In the West, I think the Suns are the 8th playoff team. They are almost a Could-Be. They were hard for me to categorize. In fact, I just realized I had them in two categories.
- The Warriors are walking a fine line, and one slip makes them a patsy.
- The Hornets could surprise. They could disappoint.
- The Lakers are above the other Powers. The others are a notch below.
- Man, the East is still terrible once you get past the big 3. Had I made the Blazers, Nuggets, and Mavs Could-Bes, then there would not have been any in the East.
Here's what the rankings mean to me when it comes to the schedule:
Powers: You'll be lucky to win one at their place. and they are going to give you a hell of a game at your place. These are the teams that have a realistic (if slim) shot at a title.
Could-Bes: You shouldn't be losing to them at home, and you should get some wins on the road if you are a good playoff team. These teams could be trouble for somebody in the first round.
Leftovers: At home, these should be wins in the bank. You should probably win about 75% of your road games against them. If these teams sneak into the playoffs, they are fodder.
Patsies: You just can't lose to these guys at all. Lottery-bound with lots of ping-pong balls.
Break It Down
15 games -- 10 home, 5 road -- in 34 days with 3 back-to-backs. This is very light and very home heavy. What's our competition look like? Well, we've got 3 West Powers: Dallas home and home, and the Blazers in Portland on the SEGABABA. We also have a home-and-home with the Jazz and the Hornets at home from the Could Be group. That's 6 pretty tough games. From the Leftovers we have 5 total games: the Raptors, Thunder, Sixers,and Warriors at home; and the Rockets on the road. Toss in a roadie in Chicago, the Kings, Wizards, and Bucks for 4 Patsies.
Prediction: I think we go 3-3 in the tough ones. Maybe even 2-4 since two of the tough ones are SEGABABAs. I say we drop one leftover and one patsy. It's what we do. I'm going with 10-5.
15 games again -- 9 home, 6 road -- in 31 days with 2 back-to-backs. Again, this is very light and very home heavy. What's our competition look like? We've got 3 Powers all at home: Boston, Denver, and Portland. Another match-up with the Jazz is our only game with the Could-Be group. That's only 4 tough games. From the Leftovers we have 5 games: at Suns, Clippers twice (home-and-home), Heat at home, and at Warriors; and the Rockets on the road. 6 Patsies make this a pretty easy month as we get the Kings at home again, as well as the Bobcats, Pacers, and T-Wolves in SA. The Bucks and Knicks are a back-to-back road trip.
Prediction: I think we go 2-1 in games against the Powers, since all three are at home, and drop the Jazz roadie. I think we go 4-1 in the games against the Leftovers. You know we'll lose one of those Patsies. We should sweep them, but I can't make myself write it. I'm going with 11-4. This puts us at 21 and 9 at the end of the year and probably at second place in the loss column in the West.
16 games -- 10 home, 6 road -- in 31 days with 3 back-to-backs. Yep, it's a third pretty favorable month. We'll pay for this. When January ends we'll have played 29 home games and 17 road games. What's our competition look like in January? We get our first game with the Lakers, but we only have 3 West Powers. Again, all at home: Dallas, Lakers, and Denver. Our final match-up with the Jazz, at the Hornets, and hosting the Hawks are the 3 in the Could-Be group. We get 4 games against the Leftovers: at Raptors, Pistons, at Thunder, and Houston at home. 6 more Patsies make this a pretty January: at Wizards, Jersey, at Charlotte, at Memphis, Chicago, and Memphis again at home. SEGABABAs are all roadies: Raptors, Grizzlies, and Thunder.
Prediction: I think we go 2-1 in against the Powers since all three are at home and 2-1 against the Could-Bes. I think we go 2-2 in Leftovers contests. And we DON'T drop a game to the patsies. I'm going with 12-4. This puts us at 33 and 13 when we hit the Rodeo Road Trip and the teeth of the schedule.
11 games -- 2 home, 9 road -- in 28 days with 1 back-to-back. This also includes the all-star break. What's our competition look like for this road-heavy month? We have 3 West Powers all on the road with Portland, Lakers, and Denver, but nothing against the Could-Be group. We have 6 games against the Leftovers that will make things interesting: at Clippers, at Sixers, at Pistons, Thunder, at Houston, and Suns. At Kings and at Pacers are our 2 against the Patsies.
Prediction: Do I play the successful rodeo road trip history card? No, I don't. I think we go 5-3 on the trip and drop one of the non-trip games to make it a 7-4 month.
17 games -- 7 home, 10 road -- in 31 days with 6 back-to-backs (notice that first game against the Hornets) and a FOGAFINI appearance. March is the time of year that good teams want to be clicking and you want to start drumming teams. What's our competition look like for this important month? We have 5 Powers as we get the Cavs twice, Boston, Lakers, and Orlando, and 3 are on the road. We kick off the month with a home-and-home against the Hornets in the Could-Be group, and we also have a roadie in Atlanta. Our 5 games against the Leftovers are: Clippers, at Heat, Warriors, at Thunder, and Rockets. The 4 Patsies are at Grizz, Knicks, at T-Wovles, at Nets.
Prediction: We'll go 1-4 against the Powers. I don't know why I say that, I just feel it. The Lakers, Cavs, and Celtics games are all in a row. We'll go 2-1 against the Could-Bes and 4-1 against the Leftovers. The Patsies will steal one this month. 10-7 is the call. 12-5 is what I would like to see. If we hit that, then we are really playing well.
8 games -- 3 home, 5 road -- in 14 days with 2 back-to-backs and another FOGAFINI appearance. We'll get a great taste of our playoff readiness with games against 4 Powers as we get Magic, at Lakers, at Denver, and at Dallas. Yep, three West Power roadies. Our only Could-Be puts us in Phoenix. No Leftovers. The Patsies are at Kings, Grizz, and Wolves.
Prediction: I say we go 2-2 against the Powers and sweep the rest on the way to a 6-2 month.
Add it all up
and I get 56-26 which should get us a 3 or 4 seed in the West. If I had tried to pick a number before I got started, I would have gone with 58-24. The last section of our season is brutal. We are off March 2, 3, and 4 then don't have another two day break the rest of the season. We play 24 games in 41 days. With 7 back-to-backs and 2 FOGAFINIs. On top of that, we play a lot of the best teams.
If our goal is to be fresh and healthy going into the postseason, that means we are taking it easy and playing a lot of guys through that tough stretch. It is going to net us a couple extra losses. Since I don't expect Pop to go nuts and try to run up the record early, we'll lose a couple games in the standings with our imbalanced schedule. I'd much prefer the heavy part of the schedule to be early when Pop wants to play a bunch of guys anyway. The schedule really sucks for us this year. But those are the breaks. Everybody plays 82 games between now and then.
Put ATS on the books for 56-26. What do you have?
I wrote this Sunday night. This is in Mike Monroe's piece today at mysa.com:
Noting that the Spurs have only 11 home games in February, March and April, Parker stressed the importance of getting out to a quick start, learning curve be damned.
“We need to play well early in the season because we have so many home games, and we need to take advantage of that,” he said. “Our schedule is kind of weird. We have a lot of games at home and a lot of days off, too. So we need to play well at the beginning.
“It’s a little bit different for us. Usually, we accelerate after the All-Star break, but I think this year we need to play better at the beginning, because February and March, we’re on the road all the time.”