Yesterday afternoon, the NBA broke the offseason doldrums by releasing the 2016-17 regular season schedule. This is exciting for several reasons, but, most importantly, it means that basketball is just over two months away.
There will be plenty of time to get into the intricacies of the schedule, all of the ins-and-outs and the win-loss predictions. But for now, we at GBB wanted to provide a rapid reaction. For that, we gathered five of our contributors for a round table discussion and asked them for their thoughts on the schedule release, what they’re most excited for, and what they’re most disappointed by.
How do you feel about schedule day? Do you love it or are you a terrible party pooper?
Chase: I LOVE schedule day with just a pinch of party pooper thrown in for good measure. I roll my eyes at trying to determine whether or not a schedule is good or bad from a competitive standpoint. That said, I love everything else about it. We are all overly obsessed with the Grizzlies and that means watching and/or attending a ton of games. It’s fun to start planning according to the schedule. If NBA Schedule Releasing was an Olympic event, I'd probably watch the Olympics.
Jonah: I am a terrible party pooper who does not care about schedule day. I think looking at the schedule is fun, but I will never get mad about the schedule. I don't get people who get super upset about the schedule or how many national TV games the Grizzlies have.
Brandon: I’m probably somewhere in the middle. I love looking through the games, trying to get a feel for where the schedule seems easier or more difficult, but really, I just don’t want to get too far into the weeds. It’s impossible to know what teams will look like next year. It doesn’t make sense to try and project results so far out. That said, I do like seeing some of the finer points: the number of back-to-backs, who’s slated for the home opener, how many national games the Grizzlies have. Those are all fun things to pick out.
Grace: To me, schedule day means that the NBA season is finally starting to near. It's been a while at this point since I've gotten to watch NBA basketball, and it's sort of the dog days of summer still. It's nice to have something to look forward to and to then anticipate the start of this upcoming season.
Corban: I love it. It makes me feel as if the NBA season is just around the corner even though it’s still almost 3 months away. The NBA schedule day is like the only major event after the offseason but before preseason so it's always fun to me. It also reminds me that NBA 2K will be released soon, and I love me some 2K.
What is the first thing you looked for when the schedule was released?
Chase: Trips. Do the Grizzlies play Dallas on a weekend? I have a lot of friends there and go a couple times a year. I'll be in New Orleans over Thanksgiving so I wanted to see if they have a home game that week (they do!). What about other destinations that would be easy and cheap to get to? Beyond that I wanted to know whether we get one or two home games against GSW (TWO!). Number of home games against Western conference, non-divisional opponents is always interesting.
Jonah: I look for games that would be the most fun for me and my friends to go to. That's really it.
Brandon: I live in Houston, so I immediately went to see when the Grizzlies would be at the Toyota Center (both weekend games!). After that, I wanted to see who was scheduled for the opening game, and whether or not they had the MLK Day game (spoiler alert: they don’t).
Grace: Road trips. I looked to see when and where Memphis will have its longest road trip this season. The road trip at the end of January and beginning of February looks tough, as they'll be facing Portland, Utah, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota. While OKC might not be quite as big of a threat this year, they'll still be a difficult win on the road. Plus, Portland and Utah are expected to be tough opponents this season. And Minnesota has been a thorn in the side of the Grizzlies the past couple of years.
Corban: Matchups against marquee teams. I always want to see when the Grizzlies play the Cavs, or when the Spurs come into the FedExForum, or even when they play my personal favorite team, the Lakers.
What home game are you most excited for?
Chase: Friday, February 10 vs. GSW. It's a lame answer but I’ll be out of town for the other GSW game and I want to see them.
Jonah: OPENING AT HOME AGAINST KAT AND FRIENDS IS SO COOL. They open the season on October 26th. They play the Clippers at home on November 4th, the Warriors on December 10th, Cleveland on December 14th, OKC on December 29th, San Antonio February 6th, and Golden State on February 10th. Those are all prime home games for me and my friends. Utah and Boston are great, low-key home games on December 18th and December 20th that will be so much fun to go to. Just don't go see the Lakers. Unless you like D'Angelo Russell. So I'll probably go see the Lakers. And Philadelphia on December 6th. I may have a problem.
Brandon: I’m really excited about opening night, the KAT matchup to open the season against a Timberwolves team that’s got a lot of really exciting young talent. Also, I’m excited about the Dave Joerger rematch at the Forum on December 16. I really want to see how the crowd reacts to their old coach and the return of Matt Barnes.
Grace: Although the opponent may not be as star-studded as the other matchups this season, I'm really looking forward to opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Having an opening night at home is always special, and it's so fun to experience the fresh energy in the fan atmosphere at the game. And starting out the season with a win always helps, so it's a big game for Memphis.
Corban: I'm at a tie between when the Warriors come to visit and Jeff Green's return to Memphis. I'm being funny but I seriously think that the Magic are the only other NBA team that will play a style that is closest to the Grizzlies, and that matchup will be fun to watch.
What road game are you most excited for?
Chase: Friday, November 18 @ Mavs. WEEKEND ROAD GAME IN DALLAS. It's very cheap for me to visit Dallas and I do so fairly often. This year the game has the added bonus of the return of Chandler Parsons. Much excite.
Jonah: The November 16th game against the Clippers in Los Angeles will be on ESPN. That will be a fun one. New Orleans could be a fun road trip. Memphis plays them on December 5th in NOLA. I may make that trip since exams will be over. Head Coach Dave Joerger will rematch with the Grizzlies on New Year’s Eve on the road.
Brandon: Obviously the big ones for me are the two games in Houston on January 13 and March 4. My wife’s birthday is the week of the first one so maybe I can get her tickets to that game for her birthday...
Grace: The December 13th game at Cleveland. I'm looking forward to seeing the Grizzlies face the NBA champs for the first time, and I'm excited to see the Kyrie Irving vs. Mike Conley showdown. Memphis struggled mightily against the Cavs last season, except for their remarkable road game win when Memphis had lost a ton of players to injury and Tony Allen led the way to victory. It'll be interesting to see how Memphis matches up with them this year.
Corban: Honestly any road game against a contender. It will be interesting to see the makeup of these Grizzlies, and what better way to test their mettle than against a championship contender on the road. Any Grizzlies/Warriors matchup will be especially fun here.
What aspect of the Grizz schedule do you (rationally or irrationally) hate?
Chase: I have a feeling this will be a popular answer but not having a Grizz home game on MLK Day is an embarrassment. It has very little to do with the actual game. The Civil Rights Symposium and all the other events that surround the Grizzlies MLK Day game are indispensable. The symposium is especially dear to me. It isn't a bunch of former athletes speaking in cliches. The recipients are almost always interesting and it's incredible to see them talk about their journey. They take a tour of the Civil Rights Museum and it’s always emotional to hear them discuss the experience. It means something to be downtown walking those streets on that day with thousands of Memphians. I'm shocked.
Jonah: If I HAVE to get upset about something, which I do because Brandon said I had to, I do not like playing Cleveland back-to-back on December 13th and 14th, one at home and one away. Playing LeBron James back-to-back is not fair and I will not stand for it.
Brandon: I’m disappointed that the MLK Day game isn’t actually on MLK Day. I understand the team is trying to make the best of it with the events that they’ve set up for that weekend, including the primetime, nationally televised game at FedExForum on Sunday night, but I just don’t think it’s the same. Playing the game on MLK Day is important to the city of Memphis, and it’s a letdown that it’s not happening this year.
Grace: Definitely the fact that the Memphis Grizzlies are not hosting an MLK Day game is shocking and frustrating. This has become a sort of tradition and is always a game that everyone in Memphis looks forward to and circles on their calendar. For the NBA to not schedule an MLK Day game in Memphis makes no sense. Memphis has always done a great job hosting that game and showcasing what MLK Day is all about. In addition, the lack of national TV coverage the Grizzlies are receiving this year (again) is annoying. If Memphis performs well, they'll surely get a few more games picked up by the national media. Right now, they've got three games scheduled on ESPN and fou on NBA TV.
Corban: I get the fact that the Grizzlies style of play may not be aesthetically pleasing (and the few national games they did play were rouuughh), but the fact that they're barely playing any national games this year is a bit of a bummer. Also, why no MLK game? I don't get that, it's pretty much a Grizzly tradition, and inexcusable. That's like telling me the Lakers will not play on Christmas (they will though, that was just an example).