The Grizzlies regular-season schedule for this abbreviated, compressed 66-game season was released yesterday, confirming that the team will open the season against its two playoff foes from last season — first on the road for a December 26th game in San Antonio and then a December 28th home opener agains the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Some other elements of the schedule:
National Television Games:
The 10 national television games are a franchise high — and this in a 66-game season. And I'm pretty sure the three home games on national TV — full-on national TV, not NBATV — are a high This includes two big ones in five days, when the Grizzlies host the Knicks on TNT and then come back for an ESPN matinee with the Bulls on MLK Day.
The full national TV slate:
Home vs. Knicks Jan. 12 TNT 7 p.m.
Home vs. Bulls Jan. 16 ESPN Noon
Away vs. Warriors Jan. 23 NBATV 9:30
Away vs. Clippers Jan. 26 TNT 9:30
Away vs. Celtics Feb. 5 NBA TV 11 a.m.
Home vs. Jazz Feb. 12 ESPN 8:30
Away vs. Nets Feb. 15 NBATV 6:30
Away vs Warriors Mar. 7 NBATV 9:30
Away vs. Lakers Mar. 25 ESPN 9:30
Away vs. New Orleans April 15 NBATV 6 p.m.
Who They Play and Who They Don't:
Full Split (2 Home/2 Away): HOU, OKC, GS, SA, MIN, NO
2 Home/1 Away: SAC, DEN, UTH, DAL
1 Home/2 Away: LAL, POR, LAC, PHO
Full Split (1/1): CHI, DET, TOR
Only Home: NY, IND, PHI, WAS, CLE, ORL
Only Away: ATL, BOS, NJ, MIL, MIA, CHA
Given the uneven schedule, this is a pretty fair mix of glamor/high-attendance home games. The Griz will split the four big Eastern opponents, getting Chicago and New York at FedExForum, but not Miami or Boston. The team will get two homes each with Oklahoma City and defending champion Dallas but only one visit each against the two Los Angeles teams. It's bummer that local fans won't get a look at the Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen/Paul Pierce Celtics in what could be their final season together or a return of the Lebron James/Dwyane Wade Heat after last season's thriller.
Competitively I don't think this slate is particularly notable given the scheduling constraints. It's probably helpful that two of the three East teams the Griz double-up with are expected to be two of the worst. I do find it odd that the Grizzlies only play division rival Dallas three times, so much so that I rechecked that multiple times to make sure I wasn't missing something.
This is a four-month spring and the Grizzlies probably need to do well in the first half of it, because the schedule — brutal all season for everyone — is particularly onerous in the second half. The team will play 10 of 15 games on the road in March and then has a stretch near the end of the season where they'll play 17 games in 25 days, including their only back-to-back-to-back set (April 2-4: @OKC-GS-@DAL. They come out of this with one day off and into a back-to-back against last year's finalists, Miami and Dallas). That stretch doesn't include either of their two four-game West Coast road trips.
By contrast, the easiest stretch of the schedule should be February 6th through March 3rd, where the team plays 10 of 13 at home, including a season-long five-game home stand. The road games in this stretch are all very winnable — Toronto, Houston, New Jersey.