I have to admit, when I saw the headline that the NBA would be announcing its 2011-12 season schedule, I chuckled out of confusion a little bit. I mean, do you really want to remind your hardcore customers (and trust me, those who care about the NBA schedule in July are hardcore) what it is they are about to miss when the league is locked out into January?
Sure, the NFL did the same thing, but to be fair to football, (1) the announcement of their schedule has become an event unto itself (16 games, easier to process) and (2) deep down, we believed the NFL schedule would, you know, actually be played.
Back to the NBA, the only way the announcement of the schedule would have been appropriate would have been if they faxed a blank sheet of paper to all the media outlets and made the schedule-announcement television show on NBA TV an hour of snow. (This recommendation is closely followed by my producer Brandon Strange's suggestion that the league put "(if necessary)" next to every game on the schedule, like Games 5 through 7 of a playoff series.)
But alas, the league announced its schedule, which means we now know who, where and when the Rockets will be
locked out from playing!
Ten quick observation on the Rockets' 2011-12 schedule, which for "theater of the mind" purposes we will suspend disbelief and pretend the whole schedule is happening:
1. The bane of any NBA team's regular season existence is the dreaded "back-to-back." Well, the Rockets have 22 of them on the 2011-12 schedule. Twenty-two. That's tied for the most in the league. So for over a quarter of the season, the Rockets will be playing basketball having just played another game less than 24 hours previously.
2. Nine of those 22 back-to-back situations are dual road shots. I'm telling you this is a brutal schedule.
3. Married men, your Tony Parker warning -- Spurs coming to town November 26 and January 21. Hide yo' wife, hide yo' kids. Mostly, hide yo' wife.
4. Tipoff times for home games will be moved from 7:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
"We listened to our customers and our fans," Rockets chief executive officer Tad Brown said. "They basically said, 'We'd like to start earlier.' It's a good opportunity to get to the building and still get home earlier and to feel better about coming to games during the week."
Because 7 p.m. is a half hour closer to rush hour. And who doesn't love driving in rush hour?
Maybe it's me, but it seemed like people had a hard enough time making it to Toyota Center by 7:30 last season. Methinks that the "get home earlier" part will come to fruition. If the team is as nondescript as it's been the last couple years, people will still take their sweet time getting there.
5. The season opener in Utah on Nov. 1 is followed by a trip to Sacramento the next night. Can I get an NBA player to chime in -- is this the most boring back-to-back road trip possible? Utah and Sacramento? Like opening your Christmas presents and the first two are a Connie Francis box set and a book on the history of cow manure. 6. The Rockets will be on national television only twice -- Nov. 9 at Philadelphia and Nov. 25 at Minnesota. Because the nation can't wait to see the vitriol that all 15 Timberwolves fans are going to spew at Kevin McHale.
7. The Rockets' tenth annual New Year's Eve home game is against Portland. A tradition like no other!
8. The Rockets will have their longest homestand since the 1981-82 season -- seven games from Feb. 15 to March 4 that wrap around the All-Star break. That's 16 straight days at home, if you're counting. The winner in all of that? Boston road beef! The ladies of Beantown will have a Rockets team with a lot of pent up "home court" sexual frustration coming to town. Good luck, Chowdettes!
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9. In the "cart way the hell ahead of the horse" category, the final six games of the season are at Portland, home for Orlando and Phoenix, at Denver, home for New Orleans, and at Dallas. Five playoff teams in six games. If the Rockets are going to put themselves in position to make the post-season, better do it in March. Although....
10. ...truth is the season could get a big torpedo in early December, when the Rockets play at Chicago in the second half of a back-to-back before facing the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Center, play at San Antonio, are home for Oklahoma City the following night and then make a one-game trip to Miami prior to a home game against the Bulls. 2011 playoff seeds in their respective conferences for teams in those six games -- one, two, one, four, two, one.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Sporting News Radio (Sirius 94 and XM 208) and 1560 The Game, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.