As summer wears on, I am slowly but surely settling in to my surroundings in San Antonio. I'm not gonna lie, it hasn't been a bowl of cherries over here (though the cherries I've bought at H-E-B are quite tasty). I still haven't received most of my furniture because the company I ordered them from -- I won't disparage them here, but they're based in Sweden and the name rhymes with My Kia -- are filled with misanthropic incompetents who deserve to spend an eternity changing Shaq's diaper.
There have also been assorted complications with satellite companies, health insurance folks and technological mishaps involving my DVD burner. The only bit of good news, really, is that I've secured employment at a popular restaurant chain that shares its name with an abbreviation for a fun social activity, and that I've learned how to drive without a GPS. It only took like six trips, but I've got it. I'm in the middle of training now but my first real money-procuring shift will be Monday.
I've been filling the hours during this Spurs off-season, but as you're no doubt aware, the NBA announced the schedule on Wednesday, which has always been the official line of demarcation for me from one season to the next. 2013-14 is officially in the rearview now, as breathtakingly perfect as it was. It's all about looking forward now.
In that vein, we might as well analyze the sked a bit. Just because the tinfoil hats have been discarded into the closet, it doesn't mean we can't notice some peculiarities.
For example, the Spurs have 21 back-to-backs -- or BABAs -- next season, tied for second-most in the league. (They had 19 BABAs last season.) The bright side is that this means a lot of potential consecutive rest days for Tim and Manu. Ten of this year's BABAs are of the dreaded road-road variety, compared to only seven last year, but thankfully none of those second games are against anyone particularly daunting.
There is one road-home BABA where the Spurs will host the Thunder in the second game. There are also two road-road BABAs where, of course, the SEGABABA is the Warriors both times, thus extending the Spurs streak of traveling to Oakland with no rest to 4,852 straight games. I don't think Duncan or Ginobili will ever play in my old stomping grounds again.
I have a hypothesis that veterans over 30 don't actually get all that much out of the traditional one day off between two games on the schedule. SEGABABAs (SEcond Game of a BAck to BAck) are generally regarded as pure evil in the NBA, but my guess is that vets would actually prefer more BABAs, followed by multiple rest days than having just one day off between every game.
If you think about it, the NBA regular season is 82 games squeezed into roughly 170 days. My theory is that most players would prefer a schedule that sees them playing something like Monday, Tuesday and then Friday opposed to Monday, Wednesday, Friday. With the former, they'd have two fresh games, the first (Monday) and the third (Friday). With the latter, the only fresh game would be the first, Monday. I'm guessing it's that second day of rest that's the true difference-maker as far as rest and recovery goes, and I think the Spurs realized this long ago. It's why Pop generally sits guys on SEGABABAs rather than the first game.
Pop is definitely going to rest guys because of the 21 BABAs , only three have multiple rest days on both ends, meaning that the other 18 are three-games-in-four-nights deals (a.k.a. THIGAFONI). In fact, the Spurs have more than 18 THIGAFONIs because several of them overlap. By my count it's more like 24.
Remarkably there is not a single asinine four-games-in-five-nights (FOGAFINI) for the Spurs the entire season. Which makes me wonder if Adam Silver taking over for David Stern had anything to do with that. PATFO (Pop And The Front Office) have railed against FOGAFINIs for years.
The bad news is that there are a few five-games-in-seven-nights (FIGASENIs) in there. Four or five of them, in fact,. And all of them in the first two months of the season.
December for the Spurs is insane. Though the list of opponents is hardly a murderer's row, the good guys will play 19 games in 32 days starting November 30, including a torturous stretch of 13 games in three weeks. From there, it gets a lot easier.
According to the amazing research from Ed Kupfer over at NBAStuffer.com, the go-to source for this type of thing, the toughest schedules in the league in terms of rest day disadvantage relative to their opponents belong to the Thunder and the Clippers. In fact, the Thunder have the fewest games of anyone against teams playing a SEGABABA, with just 10. Believe it or not the Cavs are second, with 11. The Spurs are tied-for-ninth with 18.
My independent research however, found slightly differing results, at least as far as the Spurs were concerned. While they may be in the middle of the pack (16th) in overall rest day advantage/disadvantage, they come out on the short end of the stick -- but not as bad as last year -- when they play against the league's marquee teams.
I analyzed their schedule versus the other seven Western playoff teams plus the expected Eastern Conference Finalists of Cleveland and Chicago. +1H means a one day rest advantage in a home game. -2R means a two day rest disadvantage in a road game. 0 is equal rest for both teams. The stuff in parentheses breaks down specifically how much rest each team will have in that match-up.
OKC: +1H (SA 2, OKC 1); 0H (SA 0, OKC 0); 0R (SA 1, OKC 1): Total: +1
LAC: 0R (SA 1, LAC 1); 0H (SA 1, LAC 1); 2H (SA 2, LAC 0); 0R (SA 8, LAC 8): Total: +2
POR: -1R (SA 0, Por 1); 0H (SA 1, Por 1); 0H (SA 1, Por 1); -1R (SA 1, Por 2): Total: -2
GSW: -1R (SA 0, GS 1); ASW*; 1H (SA 1, GS 0): Total: 0
HOU: -1R (SA 0, Hou 1); 0H (SA 1, Hou); -2H (SA 0, Hou 2); 0R (SA 1, Hou 1): Total: -3
MEM: 0R (SA 1, Mem 1); 1H (SA 1, Mem 0); -1R (SA 1, Mem 2); 0 (SA 1, Mem 1): Total: 0
DAL: 0H (SA NA, Dal NA); -2R (SA 0, Dal 2); 0R (SA 1, Dal 1); -1H (SA 1, Dal 2): Total: -3
CLE: 0R (SA 1, Cle 1); 0H (SA 1, Cle 1): Total: 0
CHI: -1R (SA 1, Chi 2); 0H (SA 1, Chi 1): Total: -1
Vs. Marquee Teams Total: -6
As you can see, the Spurs will indeed have the rest advantage against both the Clippers and the Thunder -- and they'll be even with the Cavaliers. Against everyone else though, they're at a disadvantage, but it's slight. Hardly enough to mention.
(*The second game after the All-Star break against the Warriors will be particularly tricky as it'll be a SEGABABA for the Spurs and nine days off for the Dubs. But since that game comes after an entire week where both teams are resting, it's not a big deal. Maybe Golden State will be rusty.)
Overall we can't complain too much. And it'd be pretty silly to complain about anything when the season opener will involve a ring ceremony that Mark Cuban is gonna have to sit through.