How is the NBA schedule made? Rules and formula
Making the NBA schedule is a long, drawn out process. After months of planning and scheduling the league finally released the 2022-23 schedule on Wednesday.
Making the NBA schedule is a long and complex algorithm that takes carefully constructed rules and regulations into account while trying to slide each team in the right slot with the right timing.
NBA Stadiums used for more than basketball
The idea behind the scheduling is to give each team a competitive balance and reduce costs of road trips. While doing this, the league has to take into account every franchises 41 home games and 41 away games throughout the year, while keeping in mind stadium availability.
All of the stadiums around the league are used for events other than basketball. There are ten teams that share a stadium with NHL teams, so the home games for the hockey teams must be taken into consideration as well. There are concerts that require time not just for the night of the event, but also require time to set up the event.
Then there are periods of time where an NBA team may not be able to use their home court for extended periods of time, like when the San Antonio Spurs are displaced for a three weeks in February because of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo which infiltrates the AT&T Center.
Some days are off limits for NBA
Before the previous season is over, the league asks every team to provide them with a list of at least 50 dates that their home stadiums are available for the upcoming year. That list must include four Mondays and four Thursdays, the Thursdays are to ensure TNT gets a fair share of the pie when it comes to televising the biggest teams.
That list must exclude games on days where the league takes a break. The NBA just decided that for the first time, there will be no games played on Election Day which is on Election Day. Christmas Eve will also be an off day, and in efforts not to take the spotlight from the NCAA Championship, there will be no NBA on the day of the Final of March Madness. The All Star game is the only time NBA players are guaranteed a few days off, if they aren’t participating in All-Star weekend. There is about four for five days where the NBA takes a respite as the games biggest players are showcased for the All-Star Game.
The break down
Once stadium availability is decided, then it’s time to adhere to the strict formula the NBA has set for each team. Each division has five opponents, so a team must play the four teams in the division four times, totaling 16 games (4x4=16) .
Four games will played against 6 conference opponents that aren’t from the same division, amounting to 24 games (4x6=24). A team will play the four remaining teams from the same conference three times each which makes 12 games (3x4=12).
The remaining 30 games of the 82 game schedule will be played against the 15 teams in the other conference. A team will play each team from the other conference twice for a total of 30 games (2x15=30).
Evan Walsh the man in charge of scheduling
Matt Winick was the Senior Vice President of Scheduling and Game Operations for more than two decades, before stepping down and allowing Evan Walsh to take over the scheduling responsibilities. One of the toughest things that he weeded out of the scheduling since taking over in 2014 was making sure teams wouldn’t have to play four games in five nights by adding another week to the schedule. This lowers the chance that a well rested team will play against a team that has had a string of consecutive games.
We still may be two and a half months away from the start of the NBA regular season, but it’s never to early to start highlighting the games of the year. Get your markers out and adjust your calendars accordingly.