COLUMNS

The NBA schedule makers aren’t doing the Nuggets any favors

Jan 19, 2022, 6:50 AM
Nikola Jokic...
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The schedule makers at the NBA did not seem to do the Denver Nuggets a big favor last Sunday evening.

That night, the Nuggets were playing their third game in four nights. Now, all three games were played at home, at Ball Arena, but that type of schedule is still a bit of a rarity in the NBA. It does happen and it happens with every team, but the opponents schedule for that night made this one a tough matchup.

It was also the second of a back-to-backs for the Nuggets. They played the Lakers the previous night.

The Nuggets began the three games in four nights with a game at home the previous Thursday against Portland. After losing an embarrassing game two nights earlier in Los Angeles against the Clippers, Denver came out and took care of business, blowing out the Trail Blazers 140-108.

The team then had Friday night off but was back at it at home, with a big game against the Los Angeles Lakers. With a day’s rest and great momentum from the Blazers win, they blew out the Lakers that night, 133-96.

That brings us to Sunday evening. The Nuggets had another home matchup, a 6:00 p.m. tipoff against the Utah Jazz. Again, playing three games in four nights is not all that uncommon in the NBA. But when you match it with the Jazz schedule, it became an extremely challenging matchup. Utah had not played since the previous Wednesday, when they had a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

So, you have one team that played a home game, so did not have to travel immediately after it, then had three days between games, before they played the Nuggets in Denver. On the other side, the Nuggets are playing their third game in four nights and their second of back-to-backs.

Research indicated that the Trailblazers had three exact incidents with their schedule last year and lost all three games. The Lakers had the exact same situation three times last year and also lost all three games. The Denver Nuggets? Yep, had the same circumstance with its schedule three times last year and went 0-3.

So, what do you think happened on Sunday evening? Yep, the Nuggets lost. They hung tough with a very good Utah Jazz team for three quarters and then completely ran out of gas.

Great teams never use the schedule as an excuse. But the reality is, in a matchup like Sunday night, with the schedule, it’s pretty tough to win.

Chalk up a loss to the schedule.

What you hope is that you will be, the next time around in that circumstance, the visiting team. So you can chalk up a win to the schedule.

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