Spencer: 10 of the first 16 games for Charlotte will be played at home and it’s not against the stiffest competition either. A hot start is possible, and although that was the case last year as well, this roster is obviously built to hang around in the standings longer.
Greg: Their schedule for October and November is relatively soft, which is nice. Nine of their first 17 games are against 2012-13 lottery teams and the Celtics, who took a major step back this offseason. Most are at home, too. If they win the majority and catch a few breaks against the playoff teams, the Bobcats could get off to an encouraging start. That doesn’t always mean much (last year’s 7-5 start dissipated very quickly), but building confidence is important, and it’s obviously better than the alternative.
Mathew: I like how the schedule opens up for the Bobcats. Maybe not from a wins and losses standpoint, but from an entertainment and measuring stick perspective. The Bobcats will travel to Houston to face James Harden and Dwight Howard to begin the season, followed by the home opener versus the up and coming Cleveland Cavaliers. Then they head back on the road to test themselves against the newly minted New Orleans Pelicans as well as the New York Knickerbockers. All four matchups could potentially spell losses, but it should nonetheless serve as an early litmus test for the Bobcats.
2- Least favorite aspect of the Bobcats schedule?
Spencer: As Greg points out, the Bobcats will lead the league in back-to-back nights — yes, the team is young, but this isn’t a good thing for any NBA franchise when you’re asked to play 82 games in a season.
The portion of the schedule that makes me cringe is the 5-game stretch from Feb. 22 – Mar. 5 when Charlotte gets vs. Memphis, @ San Antonio, @ Oklahoma City, @ Miami and vs Indiana.
Greg: Charlotte will lead the league in back-to-backs, with 21. Even young squads like the Bobcats struggle when asked to play on two consecutive nights: Last year’s team was noticeably worse without a day’s rest, going 4-18 and notching a differential 3.3 points worse than their season average. A slightly deeper roster will probably help, but it’s just one more obstacle to overcome.
Mathew: No nationally televised games for the Bobcats outside of a home October matchup versus the Knicks and a January game versus the Bulls. That’s not to say I expected a lot of nationally televised games, but it would’ve been nice to see a handful of ESPN and TNT logos on the schedule.
3- Overall assessment of the schedule and what intrigues you most?
Spencer: Well, my overall assessment is that it’s another season just around the corner for Charlotte. This one will be different, though. That’s a good thing. The team is much improved and actually fairly competent in almost every position. I do think that Charlotte can come out of the gates with some wins because of the way the schedule is structured early, but when it’s all said and done this is likely a 30-35 win team if they stay healthy. Who knows how much the roster improvement will hurt the Bobcats lottery chances, but to be completely honest, I’m done kicking that horse. You can’t forever tank, hope to get stars through the draft (oh, and luck) and build from the ground up. Charlotte has tried it and so far is hasn’t yielded them much. When you have the opportunity to improve, you do so — I think that’s a simple, yet very wise approach to building a team.
Last note on the schedule — Charlotte won’t have any ESPN games this season. Only two NBAtv games against New York and Chicago.
Greg: The amount of back-to-backs is a downer, but it otherwise looks like a pretty standard schedule. I do like the way the Southeast division is stacked this year, though — they’ll have four games each against Orlando, a basement dweller; two mid-tier teams in Atlanta and Washington that should push for a playoff spot; and Miami, the cream of the league. Their divisional record should be a good barometer of how the rebuild is going.
As for most intriguing: I know it’s early to be a defeatist, but their last 10 games could be crucial in deciding the lottery odds for next year’s draft. The Bobcats have two games against Orlando, two against Philadelphia and one at Boston over that stretch, and all three of those teams are angling for a top pick. Charlotte should pick up a few more wins this year, but the ping-pong balls are probably still going to be important.
Mathew: Pretty fair. The Bobcats will only see three Western Conference teams (Rockets on opening night and the Pelicans and Suns in November) in their first eighteen games so it will give them a chance to feel out the Eastern Conference and see how they fare. As far as intriguing, I would say the early matchups against some of the other young rebuilding teams in the League such as Cleveland and Boston. Cleveland is trying to make a push for the playoffs this season and appears to be ahead of schedule when compared to the Bobcats. Boston may be trying to go in the opposite direction in order to increase their chances in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes even though they still have Rajon Rondo (coming back from knee surgery) and the improving Jeff Green. These two matchup should be interesting.