We don't yet know the full details of the agreement between the NBA owners and players, but we do know the tentative plan is to start the season on Christmas Day, presumably with the previously scheduled contest at Staples Center between the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls as one of the games, a great showcase between Kobe Bryant and reigning league MVP Derrick Rose.
The NBA on Sunday night released a basic outline of the proposed 66-game schedule, which is understandably a little more compacted than normal. For instance, the original Lakers schedule had 56 games scheduled from Christmas Day through the end of the season on April 18, a span of 116 days. The new schedule is slated to end eight days later, on April 26, 2012, meaning the clubs will have to squeeze 66 games into 124 days.
With the new schedule, teams will play 48 of their 66 games against their own conference, compare to the standard 52 of 82 games. Teams will play six teams within their own conference four times each, and play the other eight teams in their conference three times each. The 18 games against the other conference will be comprised of a pair of games against three teams, and single games against the other 12 teams in the opposite conference.
The Lakers had similar winning percentages last season against the Western Conference (.692) and Eastern Conference (.700), so a schedule more concentrated with games against the west doesn't figure to affect them much. The Los Angeles Clippers, however, fared better against the east (.433) than they did against the west (.365), so perhaps playing fewer games against the presumably weaker conference would hurt them.
Under normal circumstances, NBA teams don't play three days in a row, but given the time constraints in the upcoming shortened season, all teams will be subject to at least one back-to-back-to-back stretch, with no more than three such occurrences per team. It will be interesting to see how certain teams react to three games in three nights. A young team like the Clippers, with Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, and DeAndre Jordan likely to be fresher than an older team like the Boston Celtics.
The playoffs are scheduled to start on April 28, two days after the regular season ends, with the NBA Finals slated to end no later than June 26, 2012. There is the possibility of playoff games on back-to-back nights in the second round.