Will Detroit Pistons fans be OK seeing the same team twice in a row?

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The Detroit Pistons might get rematches very quickly under some proposals being discussed for the new NBA schedule.

After a tough loss, if a Detroit Pistons fan mutters to themselves ‘If we played them again tomorrow, we’d beat them’ might be getting their wish this upcoming NBA season.

Not a lot is known about the upcoming NBA season except the draft will be held November 18. Simple things like when  the season will actually start are still very much in the air. The Detroit Pistons fans would certainly like to know when they might see their team in action again.

Two things will factor into the new NBA schedule:

  1. The need to give teams that went deep into the playoffs a chance for a real off-season.
  2. The hope that fans, at some point, will be allowed to attend the games as the NBA took a major revenue hit for its fan-less ‘bubble’ in Orlando.

The best-guesstimate is mid-January for the new season to begin. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has already stated he would like a normal 82-game regular season and full playoffs for next year.

The NBA got crushed in the ratings playing in the fall, when most fans are used to watching the baseball playoffs and college and pro football. The ratings for what was (except for the last game) an entertaining final between the Lakers and Miami Heat were the worst in history.

So when Silver and NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts sit down to go over the schedule, the parameters are simple: Cross our fingers for a mid-January start and make sure we are done before football begins.

Back in the olden times (2018-19 season), the the league lasted about 8 months, from November until June for the NBA finals.

If you begin in mid-January (and remember this is considered optimistic) the season still goes in the fall and sports fans will  be busy seeing how the Lions screwed up again and wondering if this is the year Michigan beats Ohio State.

So how do NBA teams play the same amount games as they usually do but in a shorter period of time.

Baseball plays 162 games but they also can play same day doubleheaders, am impossibility for NBA teams  Baseball also almost never has a team come in for a single game. Normally, if the Tigers are hosting a team it is for anything from three to five games in a row.

Play the same team in a row at the same site? In theory, NBA teams could do that.

Former NBA executive John Hollinger suggested in (Subscription Required)  The Athletic that he has heard of the possibility of multi-game series being discussed to help cut down the days needed to play out the schedule.

In theory, it would take less than three months to play a full 82-game schedule, if teams had a game every day. That will not happen, obviously, for physical reasons but what if, say, you only needed 30 days of breaks worked into the schedule.

What tires teams the most is the constant travel. You saw some injuries but no teams were ravaged by them in the Disney ‘bubble’ and there was no travel involved there.

The normal NBA schedule has teams playing four games against teams in their conference and two against the other conference. That involves a lot of flying, a lot of different hotel stops and being in a lot of different airports. At this time, it is not what most people would want to experience.

Hollinger plan: Make it 8 division games, four per team rest of conference and only 10 games against the other conference (each division would play another division) .

Pistons play: Central Division teams 8 times, other Eastern Conference teams 4 times and 10 Western Conference games.

That would knock a few weeks off the normal schedule.

Now, the players might not want their whole summer spent flying around playing basketball for the second year in a row. They have kids who are off in the summer who will want to spend time with daddy.

So let us go to an extreme scheduling example. In the age of COVID-19, bus travel is preferred to airplanes and the less travel the better. With that in mind, let us completely eliminate inter-conference play and traveling to the farthest destination for each team

Extreme alternative proposal: Each division plays each other 12 times, with all of them back-to-back at home sites. They will play each remaining team in the conference four times, twice at each team’s home in back-to-back games. Each team will have a bye against another and play one team just twice based on geography..

Pistons play: Central Division teams 12 times, other Eastern Conference teams four times,  will not play the Miami Heat and face the Orlando Magic.

The whole season could be over by July.

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