NBA schedule has fewer miles and LeBron is chasing more history

Come mid-January, LeBron James could be the NBA’s scoring king.

The NBA schedule was released on Wednesday, with the 1,230 games between October 18 and April 9 taking place in four countries, with Mexico and France hosting regular season competition along with the United States and Canada.

There are the usual highlights – Stephen Curry and Golden State will raise another title banner on opening night, as is the usual NBA perk for champions; a list of five games of games at Christmas Again; the traditional Atlanta and Memphis games as part of the league-wide commemoration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year brought a twist, with Election Day now a day of newly created leave in the NBA.

And now that the fixture list is out, the numbers show James could catch up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the final two weeks of January – assuming James doesn’t miss any games and scores at his usual pace. James enters this season No. 2 on the all-time list, 1,325 points behind Abdul-Jabbar.

“We obviously have a very large ecosystem of league office staff, team staff, players, arena staff that really drives this process,” said Evan Wasch, who along with Gene Li and Tom Carelli , is part of the NBA executive team. who builds the calendar. “So we are just a small piece.”

Wasch, Li and Carelli spent weeks putting together a 1,230-piece jigsaw, mindful of things like the team wanting to have games on certain dates, the total number of miles traveled, even the carbon footprint.

The headline of their work: the teams will travel a little less, about 5% less kilometers in the air on average during the last season.

The NBA has made this possible by adding cases of teams having no travel between games on the road, which will happen 88 times this season – up 66% from last season. There are 55 instances of teams playing back-to-back road games against the same opponent and 33 instances of teams playing back-to-back games against either Los Angeles or New York teams.

Add it all up and NBA teams will combine to drive about 50,000 fewer miles this season.

“There’s a player health element, and there’s also a durability element there,” Wasch said. “This is a decrease of 5% compared to the current situation. We’ll take it.”

Among the countless stories that go into the season is James and his pursuit of NBA history.

If he continues to score at his usual rate – 27 points per game for his career, 30 points per game last season for the Los Angeles Lakers – it would take him between 44 and 49 games to pass Abdul-Jabbar.

Games 44-49 for the Lakers fall in the second half of January. They happen to be at home for most of that time, a coincidence since it comes before the annual point in the calendar when the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have to vacate their arena while it prepares to host the Grammys. Awards.

Other calendar revelations:

BACK TO BACK

Minimizing the number of consecutive games is always a point of attention for the NBA, and the average number of them has fallen another 1.5% this season – the average dropping from 13.5 per team last season to 13 .3 per team this season.

Since 2014, the average is down 31.1%. Teams then faced an average of 19.3 per season.

No team has less than 12 consecutive games this season. No team has more than 15.

ATTENDANCE REGISTER

The San Antonio Spurs’ magic number on January 13 — 62,047.

If the Spurs game against Golden State that night draws at least that many fans, it will set an NBA regular season record. The Spurs will play this game in the Alamodome in San Antonio, not their typical arena, and it will be set up to accommodate at least 65,000 fans.

The largest crowd at an NBA regular season game is 62,046, who gathered to watch Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls take on the Atlanta Hawks at the Georgia Dome on March 27, 1998.

The largest crowd in league history was 108,713, with that group gathering for the 2010 All-Star Game at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in North Texas.

The Alamodome record for an NBA game is 39,554 on June 18, 1999, when New York traveled to San Antonio for Game 2 of that year’s NBA Finals.

INTERNATIONAL REACH

The NBA has scheduled 45 games to be broadcast live in prime time across Europe, the Middle East and Africa on Saturdays and Sundays.

Many of these games feature at least one top international player, including two-time defending MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee, defending champion Joel Embiid of Philadelphia and first-team All-NBA Luka Doncic from Dallas. .

INTERNATIONAL GAMES

San Antonio has a “home” game against Miami in Mexico City on Dec. 17. Detroit has a “home” game with Chicago in Paris on January 19.

HAPPY TO SEE YOU AGAIN

Some big names in the NBA missed the entirety of last season for various reasons. Of those who were in this group and are expected this year, assuming they are ready to play when their teams play the first game:

Kawhi Leonard and John Wall, now Clippers teammates, would open their season on October 20 – an “on the road” game against the Lakers.

Denver’s Jamal Murray would return Oct. 19 to Utah. Brooklyn’s Ben Simmons and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson would also be in line to return on Oct. 19 when the Nets host the Pelicans.

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