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Road Trips and Scheduling Dilemmas

   by Bryan Leonard - 02/19/2008

As NBA players get back to work following their All Star break, it’s an excellent time to look at motivation and scheduling situations. First, motivation: Many teams have figured out that they won’t be going to the playoffs. Defense can start to slack off as players focus on padding their offensive numbers as free agency is on the horizon.

Second, situational spots can be even more hazardous. We’ve played over half the season and the long grind of an 82-game season can begin to take a toll. It has been 16 years since the Seattle Sonics were without an All-Star. On Sunday, the East and West played in their annual showcase without a representative from Seattle.

So this team is not only short on talent, the schedule breaks against them. Seattle plays back-to-back games with Portland this week Thursday and Friday, a talented young team on the postseason bubble. Then they host the Lakers and then head to Golden State, two more potential playoff teams.

In addition, it appears likely the Sonics won't be in Seattle past 2010. The players, coaches and front office must be thinking that they may end up Oklahoma City within a few years. That might even take away any home court incentive teams usually have.

Memphis is another team to watch this week. The miserable Grizzlies are devoid of talent, just traded away (all right, GAVE away) their best player in Pau Gasol, and they head out West this week, playing at Seattle and at LA Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s a difficult back to back road spot, and a LONG way from home!

The Sacramento Kings are in a worse spot. The Kings also just traded away a star player (Mike Bibby) and Ron Artest wants out. Of course, there are no takers for him just yet. The Kings play 6 of the next 7 games on the road. If that isn’t bad enough, they played their final three games before the break on the road. So that’s 9 in 10 games on the road this week and next!

The good news in Boston is that Kevin Garnett hopes to be back this week. The bad news is that the Celtics begin a long West Coast swing this week. Tuesday and Wednesday are difficult back to back spots at Denver and Golden State, and this weekend they play at Portland and the LA Clippers Sunday/Monday.

Let’s give the toughest road trip test to Atlanta! The Hawks begin a 5-game trip this week, playing at the Lakers Tuesday and at Sacramento Wednesday. Then they play at Golden State Friday and at San Antonio Monday. So in less than a week the Hawks face two of the highest scoring teams in the league in on the road, AND head to the defending champs. Good luck, Atlanta!

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