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Houston Rockets: An In-depth Look at the Schedule

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Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed his displeasure with the Rockets’ upcoming season schedule Thursday on Houston’s SportsTalk 790AM, implying that if he could rate the team’s schedule on a numbered scale he would choose a negative number. You can listen to his interview here.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After his complaint, however, Morey stated that being upset about the schedule is like being upset about the weather; since it is outside of ones ability to change, it should also be outside of one’s regards.

Nonetheless, there is something about the schedule Morey is dissatisfied with. While it is likely that Morey and his staff possess numerous logarithms that calculate the toughness of the team’s schedule, there are a few particulars that even the layman can understand.

The most striking thing about the Rockets’ schedule is the number of back-to-backs. Last year, the league average of back-to-backs each team had to play was 19.3. After a season where multiple teams were plagued by key injuries, and with a steady increase of players and coaches voicing their discontent with the lack of rest players are awarded, the NBA made it a point to cut down on the amount of back-to-backs each team had to face, with the league average dropping to 17.3.

The Rockets schedule features 20 back-to-backs. Yes, you read that correctly. The Rockets have to play 20 back-to-backs. 40 games out of their 82-game schedule will be a part of a back-to-back effort. The Rockets have to play more back-to-backs in the upcoming season than last season’s league average. It is no wonder why Daryl Morey showed frustration with the Rocket’s schedule.

The Rockets are not alone, however. The Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Clippers also have to play 20 back-to-backs during the upcoming season. It is fortunate that two of the other three teams that have as demanding a schedule as the Rockets are other Western Conference contenders.

To understand the degree of disparity among the amount of back-to-backs teams must play this season it is important to note that both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns will have to play only 14 back-to-backs during the upcoming season.

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While the amount of the Rockets’ back-to-backs do not fall below last year’s league average, the league made traveling during back-to-backs more efficient by reducing back-to-backs that travel across a time zone to 18 percent, according to Sekou Smith at NBA.com.

Although the Rockets face a definite disadvantage with the lot of back-to-backs they will have to face in the upcoming season, as Morey said, it is not something to get hung up on.

On a positive note, the league also made it a point to reduce the dreaded stretch of four games in five nights, with the league average at an all-time low of 0.9. The Rockets, along with most of the league, will not have to face that stretch a single time during the upcoming season.

The league took a step in the right direction by finding ways to eliminate the amount of back-to-backs teams will have to play in the upcoming season. Unfortunately, because there are so many teams in the league, and with each team a different set of circumstances to be taken into consideration, it is impossible for each organization to be satisfied with their schedule.

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