Let’s get my bias out in the open here — I think the NBA season is too long. Too many regular season games, which leads to too many back-to-backs (or four games in five nights) which in turn hurts the quality of play. It’s not going to change, too much money is on the line, but I think a season-length change matters more than the idea of shortening games.
Turns out I’ve got a couple people on my side. We already told you what Erik Spoelstra said, now Dirk Nowitzki has joined the chorus.
Miami’s Spoelstra and other coaches discussed the shorter game idea at a recent coaches meeting in Chicago. Spoelstra told Zach Harper of CBS’ Eye on Basketball he was interested in the shorter game experiment but again it was the volume of games that were the issue.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of how long the game is,” Spoelstra said. “I think there’s too many games, to be frank. I think if there’s some way to find a way to cut out some of the back-to-backs so there aren’t 20-plus of them. I think that’s the bigger issue, not shaving off four minutes in a particular game. But I’m open to seeing what happens with that.”
Nowitzki made a very valid point speaking to ESPN — you really don’t need this long a season to figure out who are the best teams in each conference.
“I think you don’t need 82 games to determine the best eight in each conference,” Nowitzki said Wednesday. “That could be done a lot quicker, but I always understand that it’s about money, and every missed game means missed money for both parties, for the league, for the owners, for the players. I understand all that, and that’s why I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon.”
How fast can you find out?
On Christmas Day last year all six of the teams that would win their division at the end of the season were already on top of their division (Portland was tied with Oklahoma City in the Northwest at the time). In the East six of the eight ultimate playoff teams were would have made the cut (Chicago and Brooklyn had rough starts but came on late) and in the West seven of the eight teams would have been the same (Memphis got Marc Gasol back and passed Phoenix). This was 28 games into the season for most teams. By the All Star game came around mid-February the standings were basically finalized in both conferences, save for Memphis was still chasing Phoenix in the tough West.
You don’t need 82 games to figure out the best teams for the playoffs, you can do that just fine in 72 or even 66.
But you need 82 to make the most money, which is why nothing is going to change about the length of the season. So, we’ll see about the length of games.