In an effort to reduce travel this season during the coronavirus, the NBA has scheduled a lot of two-game sets. If a team is scheduled to play a team twice on the road during the season, those two games are scheduled back-to-back, reducing the need for travel. For example, the Lakers win Tuesday over Memphis was the second of two games between the teams; they also had faced off Sunday.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr gets why the league has scheduled this way this season, but he is not sure it should continue after this season when fans return to games, he told Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.
“I don’t think fans want to see the same team back-to-back. I think they’d rather see them a few months apart. Teams change. Seeing us now compared to three months from now is totally different. That’s part of the fun part of being a fan. You get to see a team evolve.”
The two-game sets have led to interesting basketball, with coaches making more playoff-style adjustments on the second night of those back-to-back games.
How fans would react — if the second night of a back-to-back would see reduced attendance — is impossible to determine in a season with no fans in the stands. And the back-to-backs are almost certain to continue this season when the league announces the schedule for the second half of the season, after March. The league is locked in for this year.
Next season? Who knows. The impact of reduced travel in the bubble saw an improved level of play — something league and team executives noticed. The league and players might want it to continue. However, the NBA is a business, and if these back-to-backs hurt ratings or attendance, they would be gone.
Obviously, playing the same team a few times in a row has not hurt baseball attendance over the years, but that is a different sport with different traditions. Plus, with a new starting pitcher each night, it’s almost like a new game.
Whether to continue these two-game sets is a question for another day. But we know where Steve Kerr stands.