Washington Wizards schedule includes 16 back-to-backs
By Michael Lee,
The nearly five-month NBA lockout forced the league to cram all of those games in 119 days, based on arena availability and travel logistics, so the Wizards will have little rest and have to sacrifice a few traditional matchups.
The Wizards will open the season on Dec. 26 at home against the New Jersey Nets, which would’ve been the same opponent as the previous Nov. 2 opener that was canceled because of the labor impasse. Dirk Nowitzki and the defending champion Dallas Mavericks will not play at Verizon Center this season, but the Wizards will travel to face them on March 13 in the second game of brutal stretch of five games in seven days. Since the Mavericks are not coming to Washington, they won’t visit the White House.
The Wizards will face six Eastern Conference opponents four times, but Southeast Division rivalries weren’t taken into consideration. They will host Atlanta and travel one time to face LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and defending conference champion Miami Heat once (April 21). Miami will play at Verizon Center on Feb. 10 and at the home finale on April 26.
District native Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder will come to Verizon Center on Jan. 18 and Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will make their lone trip on March 7, but the Wizards will not return to face either opponent.
The only Western Conference teams that the Wizards will play twice are the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland and Houston. They also won’t travel to play Golden State, Minnesota or Sacramento.
Despite John Wall’s hopes of having a breakout sophomore campaign and leading the franchise back to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons, the NBA’s network partners don’t have such a high opinion of the rookie of the year runner-up or his team. The Wizards are not scheduled to make any appearances on ABC, TNT or ESPN, though NBATV has them scheduled six times.
The NBA scheduled 42 sets of three games in a row for its 30 teams. The Lakers will actually open the season with three consecutive games. The Wizards play on three consecutive nights twice — March 24-26 and April 4-6 — but those three-in-a-row sets will be near back-to-back sets and amount to five games in six nights.
The Wizards will play 16 sets of back-to-back games, with the most bizarre scheduling quirk having them play a back-to-back set in Houston and Charlotte on Jan. 27-28. They will also have two five-game trips. The first will be from Feb. 12-20 and take them through Detroit, Portland, Los Angeles, Utah and Phoenix. The second will be from March 12-18 and include stops through San Antonio, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta and Memphis. That trip will be followed by another road game in New Jersey on March 21.
Reigning league most valuable player Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls will make one appearance at Verizon Center on Jan. 30. The Wizards will also only host Eastern Conference teams New Jersey and Detroit once.