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Breaking down the schedules of the Spurs and the NBA contenders

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Fewer back-to-backs, more fuel-efficient road trips and a surplus of rest days before games against the best teams in the league: It's hard to find much to complain about with the Spurs schedule.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA schedule has been released and I'm happy to report that it looks very favorable relative to the other contenders and there is no hellish stretch like last December. Commissioner Adam Silver has long pledged to find ways to reduce player wear-and-tear while keeping the 82-game schedule intact, and he's found a way to keep his word,

Silver hasn't resorted to radical measures like starting the season earlier, ending it later (a deal-breaker for our beloved skipper) or shortening the All-Star break. Instead, he called in some favors with television partners TNT and ABC and got them to give up their exclusivity windows on Thursday and Saturday nights respectively, meaning more teams will play on those nights instead of just a couple of nationally broadcast games.

The result of those little tweaks has enabled the league to reduce the instances of a team having to play four games in five nights (the infamous FOGAFINI) to just 27 cases for the entire 30-team league. For the second consecutive season, the Spurs won't have any FOGAFINIs. How drastic of a cutback is this? Well...

The Spurs had 21 back-to-backs last season, but will play just 17 of them in 2015-16. That alone makes the new schedule a winner as far as I'm concerned, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

As ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reports, the league is finally applying some common sense measures to reduce travel miles, too.

There has also been an effort by the league to reduce the amount of miles teams fly. This includes teams playing both Los Angeles and New York teams on the same road trip. Also back on schedules more frequently is the old Texas Triangle, where teams will play in all three Texas cities on the same trip in a return to a relic from years ago.

What this means as far the Spurs are concerned are no more of those dizzying up-and-down trips out west like last season, where they flew from Los Angeles to Oakland to Los Angeles to Sacramento in November of 2014 and then the Los Angeles to Oakland to Utah to Portland to Sacramento and back down to Phoenix debacle last February.

This time around, it'll be more sensible, like a Phoenix to Los Angeles to Oakland trip in January and a back-to-back in February where the Spurs will play both Los Angeles teams at the Staples Center.

Speaking of La-La land, the acquisition of LaMarcus Aldridge has apparently increased the Spurs' profile to the point where they're slotted for 21 nationally broadcast games next season (spread over ESPN, ABC and TNT), the sixth-most in the league. The Cavaliers and Warriors lead the way, as one would expect, with 25 appearances each, then come the Clippers and Thunder, with 24 each, then the Bulls with 23 and then the Spurs. The Lakers are seventh, for what it's worth, with 19. Again the Spurs will be playing on Christmas, this time at Houston, but at least you'll be able to enjoy Thanksgiving in peace.

A month-by-month breakdown:

I'm defining "playoff teams" as everyone who made the playoffs last season plus Oklahoma City but not including Portland (because, well, you know). I'm also not including Boston or Brooklyn because I have self-respect.

THIGAFONI, is short for "third-game-in-four-nights." FOGASINI is short for "four-games-in-six-nights." For the purposes of this exercise, I'm only including FOGASINIs where both ends of a back-to-back contain one off day and then another game preceding and afterward. In other words, GAME-OFF-GAME-GAME-OFF-GAME but not GAME-GAME-OFF-OFF-GAME-GAME or GAME-GAME-OFF-GAME-OFF-GAME.

October/November:

Games: 18

Home: 9

Road: 9

Vs. Playoff Teams*: 7

Back-to-backs: 3  (1 Road-Road, 2 Road-Home)

THIGAFONI: 3

FOGASINI: 3

The highlights include opening the season at Oklahoma City on Oct. 28, visiting Marco Belinelli in Sacramento on Nov. 9, Aldridge's first game in Portland as a Spur on Nov. 11 and the return of Tiago Splitter at the AT&T Center on Nov. 28.

December:

Games: 16

Home: 10

Road: 6

Vs. Playoff Teams: 7

Back-to-Backs: 3 (1 Road-Home, 2 Home-Road)

THIGAFONI: 3

FOGASINI: 3

This is the month the Spurs will have to gain some separation between themselves and the rest of the West. There are SEGABABAs at Memphis on Dec. 3 and at Atlanta on on Dec. 12 to negotiate, plus a trip to Houston on Christmas. Also, the Clippers visit on the 18th. Outside of that though, nothing too arduous. Cory Joseph returns on the 9th.

January:

Games: 13

Home: 6

Road: 7

Vs. Playoff Teams: 7

Back-to-backs: 2 (2 Road-Road)

THIGAFONI: 1

FOGASINI: 0

Some well-deserved breaks in here but also two clashes with the Rockets, two with the Cavaliers and a visit to Golden State on Jan. 25. For the first time in a long time, the Spurs will be rested when they play at "The Roar-acle." They check in with Baynes-y on the 12th.

February:

Games: 12

Home: 3

Road: 9

Vs. Playoff Teams: 4

Back-to-backs: 4 (3 Road-Road, 1 Road-Home)

THIGAFONI: 3

FOGASINI: 0

Another "get healthy" month. There are four back-to-backs here but they're spaced out with no FOGASINIs, and as usual the eight-game "Rodeo Road Trip" will be interrupted in the middle by the All-Star break. The only two toughies are at Houston and at the Clippers, whom the Spurs always seem to visit their first night back from the break for some reason.

March:

Games: 16

Home: 10

Road: 6

Vs. Playoff Teams: 9

Back-to-backs: 3 (1 Road-Road, 2 Home-Road)

THIGAFONI: 3

FOGASINI: 2

FIGASENI: 1

Now we're cooking with gas. March starts off with five games in a week, but only the second one at New Orleans poses a challenge. After that comes a five-game home stand against the Bulls, Thunder, Clippers, Blazers and Warriors, and then an ending stretch of vs. Grizzlies, at Thunder, at Grizzlies, vs. Pelicans.

April:

Games: 7

Home: 3

Road: 4

Vs. Playoff: 5

Back-to-backs: 2 (1 Road-Road, 1 Home-Road)

THIGAFONI: 2

FOGASINI: 1

FIGASENI: 1

What a brutal way to end the year, with a FIGASENI in the final week, with two games against the Warriors and another against the Thunder. Hope a high seed is locked up by then.

If you were curious how the back-to-backs break down relative to their opponents, here you go.

More interesting to me are rest days compared to the competition. The incomparable Ed Kupfer broke it down in handy chart form:

but because I'm a spoiled Spurs fan reporter, I tend to only worry about the contenders. For all intents and purposes, there are seven NBA contenders: Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Thunder, Rockets and Grizzlies in the West, plus the Cavs. If any other team besides those seven makes the Finals next season, I'll be gobsmacked.

So how rested will the Spurs be when they play their fellow six contenders and vice versa? To the research-mobile!

How to read the chart:

"H" or "R" represents if the team in question is the home or road team. The number next to "H" or "R" represents how many off-days they'll have before said game. The numbers in parentheses represent how many days off the opponent will have. When the first number is greater (or less) than the other, that means there is a difference in rest days between the teams. The number on the right is the sum of all the regular season match-ups.

Spurs:

Warriors:             R2 (2)     H1 (0)    R1 (1)     H1 (0)    = +2

Clippers:              H1 (1)    R8 (8)     H2 (1)                   = +1

Thunder:              R0 (-)     H1 (0)    R0 (1)     H1 (0)    = +1

Rockets:              R1 (1)     H2 (1)    H1 (1)    R1 (1)     = +1

Grizzlies:              H0 (0)    R0 (1)     H1 (2)    R1 (2)     = -3

Cavs:                    H1 (1)    R2 (0)                                   =+2

Total: +4

21 Games, 11 Home, 10 Road

SEGABABAS: 3 (1 home)                             Opponents: 6 (5 road)

1 2-day advantage

An excellent development for the Spurs They won't be at a rest disadvantage in either of their visits to the Oracle Arena, but the Warriors will be on a SEGABABA on both of their trips to AT&T. As you can see, the Spurs will have the rest advantage both in terms of SEGABABAs and more off days in general against every fellow contender but the Grizzlies. They even have the rare happenstance of having two days off before a trip to Cleveland while the Cavs have to play the night before. The Spurs don't have any multi-day rest disadvantages against elite competition, meaning they should have a fighting chance against anybody if they're healthy.

*   *   *

Clippers:

Spurs:                   R1 (1)     H8 (8)    R1 (2)                    =-1

Warriors:             R1 (1)     H4 (1)    H1 (0)    R2 (1)     =+5

Thunder:              H1 (1)    H1 (1)    R1 (2)     R0 (1)     =-2

Rockets:              H2 (0)    R0 (1)     H1 (0)    R0 (1)     =+1

Grizzlies:              H1 (1)    R2 (1)     H1 (2)                   =0

Cavs:                    R2 (0)     H1 (2)                                  =+1

Total: +4

20 Games, 10 Home, 10 Road

SEGABABAS: 3 (0 Home)              Opponents: 4 (3 Road)

2 2-day advantages

1 3-day advantage

The Clippers are also in a pretty enviable spot, especially against the Warriors, also catch breaks against the Cavs and Rockets.

*   *   *

Cavaliers:

Spurs:                   R1 (1)     H0 (2)                                  =-2

Warriors:             R1 (1)     H2 (1)                                  =+1

Clippers:              H0 (2)    R2 (1)                                   =-1

Thunder:              H1 (0)    R2 (1)                                   =+2

Rockets:              R0 (1)     H2 (1)                                  =0

Grizzlies:              R0 (1)     H1 (0)                                  =0

Total: =0

12 Games, 6 Home, 6 Road

SEGABABAS: 4 (2 Home)              Opponents: 2 (2 Road)

2 2-Day disadvantages

The Cavaliers will find themselves in the unusual position of being in a multi-day rest disadvantage at home against both the Spurs and the Clippers. They play in the East though, so nobody's about to feel sorry for them.

*   *   *

Rockets:

Spurs:                   H1 (1)    R1 (2)     R1 (1)     H1 (1)    = -1

Warriors:             H1 (2)    H1 (0)    R2 (2)                    =0

Clippers:              R0 (2)     H1 (0)    R0 (1)     H1 (0)    =-1

Thunder:              H0 (0)    R1 (1)     R2 (2)     H2 (2)    =0

Grizzlies:              R1 (3)     H3 (0)    R1 (1)     H1 (1)    =+1

Cavs:                    H1 (0)    R1 (2)                                   =0

Total: -1

21 Games, 11 Home, 10 Road

SEGABABAS: 3 (1 Home)              Opponents: 6 (6 Road)

1 3-Day advantage

2 2-Day disadvantages

The Rockets will trade multi-day advantages with the Grizzlies a couple of times, but their real edge is having fewer SEGABABAs.

*   *   *

Grizzlies:

Spurs:                   R0 (0)     H1 (0)    R2 (1)     H2 (1)    = +3

Warriors:             R1 (1)     H1 (1)    H0 (1)    R0 (2)     =-3

Clippers:              R1 (1)     H1 (2)    R2 (1)                    =0

Thunder:              H0 (0)    H1 (1)    R1 (1)                    =0

Rockets:              H3 (1)    R0 (3)     H1 (1)    R1 (1)     =-1

Cavs:                    H1 (0)    R0 (1)                                   =0

Total: -1

20 Games, 10 Home, 10 Road

SEGABABAS: 6 (2 Home)              Opponents: 4 (3 Road)

1 2-Day advantage

1 2-Day disadvantage

1 3-Day disadvantage

The Grizzlies on the other hand are facing some obstacles against everyone but the Spurs.

*   *   *

Thunder:

Spurs:                   H0 (-)     R0 (1)     H1 (0)    R0 (1)     = -1

Warriors:             R2 (2)     H1 (1)    R0 (1)                    =-1

Clippers:              R1 (1)     R1 (1)     H2 (1)    H1 (0)    =+2

Rockets:              R0 (0)     H1 (1)    H2 (2)    R2 (2)     =0

Grizzlies:              R0 (0)     R1 (1)     H1 (1)                   =0

Cavs:                    R0 (1)     H1 (2)                                  =-2

Total: -2

20 Games, 9 Home, 11 Road

SEGABABAS: 6 (0 Home)              Opponents: 4 (2 road)

The Thunder are the one contender who really get over on the Clippers, but they're also the only ones who have more road games against the others than home games. Like the Warriors, both of their visits to AT&T will be SEGABABAs.

*   *   *

Warriors:

Spurs:                   H2 (2)    R0 (1)     H1 (1)    R0 (1)     = -2

Clippers:              H1 (1)    R1 (4)     R0 (1)     H1 (2)    =-5

Thunder:              H2 (2)    R1 (1)     H1 (0)                   =+1

Rockets:              R2 (1)     R0 (1)     H2 (2)                   =0

Grizzlies:              H1 (1)    R1 (1)     R1 (0)     H2 (0)    =+3

Cavs:                    H1 (1)    R1 (2)                                   =-1

Total: -4

20 Games, 10 Home, 10 Road

SEGABABAS: 4 (0 home)                             Opponents: 3 (2 road)

1 2-day advantage

1 3-day disadvantage

Man, the defending champs are getting the short end of the stick here, and really taking it on the chin against the Clippers. Very surprising.

*   *   *

So there you have it. Spurs fans certainly can't cry conspiracy about the schedule as it's set up quite nicely for them. If they dominate through the first four months then they'll be in position to coast a bit in March and especially April. But if they struggle out of the gates, it will be nearly impossible to finish with a top-four seed.