With the NBA schedule in full tilt since Christmas, the season has never seemed this action-packed. The reason is because the games are coming closer together and being delivered faster to consumers.
There is more back-to-back scheduling for teams than other years, meaning they play two nights in a row, and some back-to-back-to-back, meaning they play three nights in a row, at times throughout the season as well.
Frankly, this year is awesome.
It’s nice to be able to see a favorite team more often each week. It makes the week go by faster. It seems more enjoyable and more challenging for teams.
Every game counts in the West; there can be no nights off. The standings in the West are so close from top to bottom. With the exception of Oklahoma City, just about every team can be outside the playoff picture with one or two losses in a row.
Eleven of the 16 teams in the West look to battle for the eight playoff seeds all season.
The East is different because there’s less parity than the West. More teams are sure to make the playoffs and the real race could be for the last seed. Still, with the season going by at a faster pace, movement in the standings can happen quicker and the chance for redemption is right there either the next night or the night after.
Now, second team players matter more than ever. A solid bench is counted on all the way down to the 12th man. And, these players are able to develop and display their skills more often for fans.
Also, there seems to be a little more spontaneity in the degree of play this season.
Take for instance, the LeBron dunk from this past week, one of the best of his career. Some of this difference could be due to the play generated by the mix of combining starters and non-starters with the lack of an extended training camp.
Of course, the owners will never go for this kind of shortened season. They are missing revenue for eight home games.
So, maybe the NBA should shorten their season, but not the amount of games. Typically, the regular season starts late October-beginning November and it goes through the end of April. What if the season started on Christmas every year?
A more compact, dense 82-game schedule puts it all out there. If necessary, schedule like baseball, and bring a team in to visit for two nights in a row, when possible (in conference).
One other idea is to make the first round of playoffs go best-of-three, second round could be best-of-five and Conference Finals and NBA Finals can be best-of-seven games.
There are more than 125 days from Christmas to late April. If necessary, add some dates to late April and/or early May and start the playoffs a week or so later. It can be done.
Starting at Christmas time worked. It was a great holiday gift and rallied the fanbase from coast to coast.
Ending in late June for the finals is still a more than 6-month season.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com