In 2018, the Spurs played their last game before the All-Star break in Denver. Then, they played their first game after the All-Star break in Denver.
In 1988, the 76ers and Washington Bullets played consecutive games in Philadelphia.
Those were the only times in the last 46 years a team played consecutive regular-season games against the same opponent in the same location domestically. (Between 1991 and 2011, teams played consecutive games against each other several times in London and Japan.)
But the practice, last used regularly in 1974, won’t be an oddity this season.
“Series” are a feature of the NBA schedule, which – like many facets of life – has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The league announced games for Dec. 22-March 4. The remaining portion of the schedule (March 11-May 16) will be revealed as this segment nears its conclusion.
Each team will play 72 games in the 2020-21 season, facing each opponent in its conference three times (42 total games per team) and each opponent in the other conference twice (30 total games per team). In the First Half, each team will play 37 or 38 games, including a minimum of 17 home games and a maximum of 20. Nearly 52% of all regular-season games (558 of 1,080) have been scheduled for the First Half.
The schedule incorporates steps to reduce travel, including the use of a “series” model. In some instances where a team is scheduled to play twice in one market, those games have been scheduled to be played consecutively. Each team will play an average of four “series” in the First Half – two at home and two on the road. Additional steps include more instances of teams playing consecutive road games against teams that are geographically close, and roughly 50% fewer instances of teams making single-game road trips.
The full first-half schedule can be found here. But remember: This is merely a plan, and coronavirus has a way of interfering with plans.
So, while the hope is to play 72 games per team (down from the usual 82), that’s far from guaranteed.
But wrinkles like “series” give the NBA its best chance of completing this schedule.