Breaking Down Back-to-Backs and The Importance of March
We all like to reminisce to the days of health in 2004-05 when the Wizards started the year by winning 26 out of their first 41. Since, they haven’t gotten out of the gates so well.
In 2005-06, they won five out of their first six, but then lost 17 of the next 24, going 12-18 in the first 30. The Wiz started 4-9 in 2006-07 before they got going, 0-5 in 2007-08, and last year … well, do I really need to give out the numbers?
It’s the NBA, and no game this year is going to be easy. Hell, this team can’t afford to think one might be easy. A good start is tremendously imperative to setting the swagger level of the year. Why? Because the playoff stretch of March could be brutal.
We already know this from the previous post:
The toughest stretch comes from Feb. 28th to March 31st when the Wiz have 12 road games (versus the Nets, Bucks, Celtics, Pistons, Jazz, Nuggets, Blazers, Lakers, Pacers, Bobcats, Rockets, and Hornets) against only 5 home games (versus the Bucks, Rockets, Magic, Bobcats, and Jazz).
But I wanted to dive more into back-to-back sets, which can be a true measure of a team’s focus and toughness. This year, the Wizards have 21, which is above the league average of 20.1. TrueHoop has a B2B set listing for all teams.
- 5 sets are road/road
- 5 are home/road
- 11 are road/home
- 12 involve two Eastern Conf. teams
- 5 involve two Western Conf. teams
- 4 involve one West and one East
Monthly B2B Tallies:
- 1 October
- 3 November
- 4 December
- 4 January
- 2 February
- 5 March
- 2 April
Front End vs. Back End:
- Avg. 08-09 Winning % of first B2B team: .508
- Second team: .521
B2B Rank by Avg. Win % of Two Teams:
March is highlighted in yellow, and has three of the top eight toughest according to last year’s records.
In fact, 8 of the Wizards’ 21 B2Bs form four ‘4-games-in-5-nights’ groupings. March has two of these, with the 12th-16th being the biggest test the team will face all year.
12 – Detroit
13 – @ Atlanta
15 – @ Chicago
16 – Sacramento
12 – @ Detroit
13 – Orlando
15 – @ Utah
16 – @ Denver
23 – Charlotte
24 – @ Indiana
26 – @ Charlotte
27 – Utah
6 – Golden State
7 – @ Orlando
9 – @ Boston
10 – Atlanta
And as you can see, three of the 4-in-5 sets come in the last quarter of the season. Mike Jones has a good piece in the Washington Times about early season tests. And Michael Lee talks about the importance of the season opener in the Washington Post. These beginnings through the meat of the season will tell us how seriously to take this team. But the stretch run is when we’ll find out if the Wizards are true contenders or not.