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Posted at 12:41 AM ET, 11/28/2011

NBA 2011-12 schedule: Grueling stretch ahead for Wizards

The NBA is planning to start a 66-game season on Dec. 25, so the Wizards will have to prepare for a grueling stretch over the next few months. Rest and practice time will be limited, with teams playing an average of four games per week – or the exact same pace of the 50-game lockout-shortened season in 1999.

Here come the back-to-back-to-backs. (Jonathan Newton)
With the regular season getting pushed back a week and scheduled to end on April 26 — and the NBA still setting aside four days for the all-star weekend in Orlando — teams will have just 119 days to squeeze in those games, meaning that they will have at least one set of back-to-back-to-back games, but no more than three.

The league released a general breakdown of how the new schedule will be structured on and the Wizards will play 48 of their 66 games against Eastern Conference teams and 18 games against Western Conference teams. Teams will play only three teams from the other conference twice (one at home, one away) and six other teams at home and the six other teams on the road.

The Wizards will play six teams in the conference four times, four teams three times (two at home, one away) and the four other teams three times (once at home, two away). The NBA plans to add about at least two more games to each month on the schedule.

The first 25 games on the Wizards’ schedule have been wiped out, leaving them with 57 dates set for games and nine games likely to get plugged in for any available gaps. The full details of the schedule will be released later. But it’s hard to imagine that the league would deviate much from what is already in place.

So much of the schedule depends on arena availability and several teams – such as the Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors – share facilities with NHL teams. So even if the teams may change, the Wizards could possibly have home games on the dates that have already been set.

Playoffs will start on April 28 and the last possible date of the NBA Finals in June 26, meaning the NBA draft will likely be held in July. The NBA may also be forced to schedule back-to-back sets in the second round of the postseason. The late finish to the season would give players little time to prepare for the London Olympics, which begin on July 28.

By  |  12:41 AM ET, 11/28/2011

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