The NBA formatted the 2020-21 regular season in two halves, only releasing the schedule for one half at a time, with a goal of teams playing 72 games. The purpose of only unveiling the first half of the schedule was to preserve flexibility with respect to potentially postponed games.
The NBA’s concerns and due diligence were proven to be well-founded as more than 25 games have been removed from the schedule through the first half thus far. While the NBA built in a contingency, it can be reasoned they likely were not prepared for the amount of matchups that would have to be pushed back.
Whether it’s due to the league’s health and safety protocols or because of a severe weather storm in Texas, teams have experienced several interruptions. Only a couple postponed games have been re-scheduled, which leaves the NBA facing plenty of work for the second half.
Despite the somewhat colossal number, league officials still want to and believe they can have every team play a full 72-game schedule, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN:
In conversations with teams so far, sources said league officials have expressed a desire for each to play 72 games if possible — even if that requires Washington, Memphis and other teams who have had several games postponed to play more often over the rest of the season. That will require those teams to play more back-to-backs, league officials have informed team executives, sources said. The league has told teams it will try to avoid back-to-back-to-backs and segments in which a team plays four games in five nights, sources said.
The Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies, and San Antonio Spurs will all have had at least five postponed games by the time the All-Star break arrives. The NBA is confident they can make up for that, but may struggle with any new outbreaks that occur in the second half:
Team officials have asked the league what would happen if more games are postponed in the second half of the schedule — and if the league would attempt to make those games up even with no time cushion built into the back of the schedule, sources said. The league has indicated it will explore ways to make up future postponements, but has acknowledged in talks with league officials that some teams may not reach 72 games played.
Playing close to a full season outside of a bubble during a pandemic comes with logistical issues such as these. The NBA will have to do their best to roll with the punches and make games happen.
It’s very possible that not every team will reach the full 72 games, which may require more flexibility on the league’s part.
Dennis Schroder might return vs. Trail Blazers
The Los Angeles Lakers have managed to get through almost the entire first half of the season without needing a game postponed. However, they have lost Alex Caruso and Dennis Schroder at separate times due to the health and safety protocols.
Schroder reportedly is in contact tracing and could return Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers if he continues to test negative.
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