The NBA released its 2015-16 schedule on Wednesday night, and Brooklyn’s is a bear.
While most teams play a similar schedule–more or less¬–there can be nuances in its arrangement that favor or hurt some teams. Consider the Nets part of the latter. They open with the Chicago Bulls at home on Oct. 28 and then trek to San Antonio and Memphis for a mini road trip. The schedule “softens” as the Nets face Eastern forces in the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks.
In the first 10 games, wins appear to be few and far between. Even the league’s elite would struggle with that ominous opening, but the Nets are admittedly in a bridge year focused on “core, youth, and development.” A team in a reload does not find many cupcakes in that intro, not to mention that 11 of the first 16 are on the road.
The schedule hurts the Nets more than the average team because of a lack of continuity. Lionel Hollins’s crew didn’t start putting it together until February last season, so it would stand to reason that growing pains are part of the process. Being thrown into the fire is another matter altogether.
The Nets retain Jarrett Jack, Brook Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Joe Johnson. Aside from those four players, there are a lot of unknowns. Even Thaddeus Young has not spent a full season in Brooklyn, and his game should evolve now that he and Lopez are the focal points of the team’s offense.
A demanding schedule will place a lot of strain on newcomers like Wayne Ellington, Thomas Robinson, Andrea Bargnani, Shane Larkin, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. They will all need to make some sort of contribution, given that their first few opponents will throw several waves of depth at them.
On the plus side, the Nets will get the opportunity to gel, as they will spend a considerable amount of time together on the road. Team bonding will be crucial, especially since the team excised the negative influence from last season.
Assuming that Brooklyn finds its stride in the dead of winter, as has been their M.O. in each of its first three seasons in the borough, a difficult close awaits. If the Nets are jockeying for playoff positioning, they’ll likely need to be entrenched in one of the final few spots. As it stands, six of the final eight games should come against playoff teams–with a heavy road flavor. Seven of the final 10 games are away from the Barclays Center.
The Nets finish the season with a home grudge match against the Toronto Raptors on April 13, 2016. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.
At first glance, the workload has decreased ever so slightly. The Nets will only play four games in five nights once in 2015-16, and the number of back-to-backs has decreased by four.
The new-look Nets will have a few additional faces unknown to most fans. The team recently added Donald Sloan to serve as the third point guard. He will back up both Jack and Larkin, and he can rotate between both guard positions. Quincy Miller was also acquired this summer as part of Steve Blake trade (the second one).
In addition, Deron Williams and Alan Anderson will also be playing elsewhere.