Lakers catch a break in their 2010-11 schedule
According to number-crunching BasketballProspectus.com, the Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks each got stuck with 23 back-to-backs in 2010-11, topping the dreaded B2B list. It's the second straight season the Bulls have led the NBA in this grind-it-out category.
Meanwhile, the Lakers will play the fewest, with 15 sets of back-to-backs.
Does this matter? Yes, given that the Lakers have nine thirtysomethings on their roster (Ron Artest, Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Theo Ratliff and Luke Walton); this schedule should give them a little breather as they try for a three-peat.
Last season the Lakers played 20 sets of back-to-backs -- their record was 24-16. (After the playoffs start, of course, there are no back-to-backs.)
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder, with a roster full of young legs, also did well in the 2010-11 scheduling derby, and will play only 17 sets of back-to-back, third-fewest in the league. Among other notable teams, the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics both play 19 parings of back-to-backs.
Not everything, though, is a plus for the Lakers in the scheduling department.
Last season they slept at home a lot to start the season, playing 19 games at home out their first 28 contests (and one “road game” was against the Clippers). The Lakers went 23-5 in that spell to open a four-game lead in the West.
This season, the Lakers’ charter pilots will be busy the first couple months, as the team hits the road for 16 of their first 28 games.
Opening night is Tuesday, Oct. 26, at Staples, against the Houston Rockets.
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: Pau Gasol beats Jeff Green to a rebound in Game 3 of the Lakers-Thunder playoff series in Oklahoma City in April. Credit: Los Angeles Times / Wally Skalij.