Upon hearing his teammates complaining about their schedule, Larry Bird, or so the story goes, took a printed copy, looked it over, and said, “41 home and 41 away… looks good to me.” Unfortunately for the Golden State Warriors, the NBA schedule can be a bit more impactful than Larry Bird expressed.
Following the NBA’s standard schedule formula, each NBA team must play four games against its four division opponents, four games against six in conference but out of division opponents, three games against the four remaining conference teams, and two games against each team from the opposing conference.
Because each team does not play all opposing teams the same number of times, variations in a schedule can have a significant impact on the final standings. Last season, the Warriors played the 6th toughest schedule in the NBA, according to Basketball-Reference’s rating system. Interestingly, the top 15 most difficult schedules per this system were all played by Western Conference teams, displaying the quality gap between the East and West.
Given the strength of the majority of Western Conference teams, the Warriors’ clearly projects to be difficult. Relative to their opponents, the Warriors catch a few breaks.
Playing in the Pacific division guarantees that the Warriors get to play the Sacramento Kings, the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers, all inferior opponents, four times. As last season’s struggles versus Sacramento show, success is not guaranteed against weaker teams. However, these division matchups are preferable to those faced by playoff contenders in the Northwest and Southwest divisions.
The Warriors play three, rather than four, games versus the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans, two of whom project to be elite and all playoff contenders.
In addition, Golden State will play 15 back-to-backs, which, according to NBA.com’s Warriors Blog, is tied for the fewest back-to-backs the team has played since moving from Philadelphia.
Several of the early statistical projections estimate that, despite their divisional advantages, the Warriors will have one of the more challenging schedules in the league next season. The Warriors path to success was never expected to be without difficulty, and next years’ regular season will not be an exception.
For more interesting statistical information on the newly released schedule, check out this post by NBA.com.
Warriors tickets are available for the 2013-14 season from TickPick. You can find tickets for opening night against the Lakers beginning at $123. If you;re looking to save some money this year and still catch the Warriors in action, you’ll find tickets for as low as $14 for select Warriors games, including Wednesday November 20 against the Grizzlies and only $9 when the Bucks visit January 7th.