Behind the Schedule, Part VI - 2016-17 Breakdown (8/27/16)

By Sean Pyritz @srpyritz
Finally, we have reached the end of our exploration into the NBA schedule. Over the past five weeks, we've scavenged and searched through the intricacies of the schedule using the past two seasons as our map. If you've followed along to this point, you know this week it is time to use the tools and lenses we've picked up along the way to analyze the 2016-17 NBA season team by team.

Before we turn to the future, we have one more concept to introduce. When the schedule was released a couple of weeks ago, ESPN posted an article breaking down the schedule – similarly to what you'll see below. What struck me was the repeated mention of the location of back-to-backs as a major factor in determining schedule strength or weakness. As I dug into the past two seasons' schedules, I found a few interesting nuggets. First, there is a difference between performance in a back-to-back (B2B) at home and on the road. In Net Rating terms, home teams on B2Bs averaged a 1.5 Net Rating advantage, while teams on the road suffered a 3.1 Net Rating disadvantage. Overall, the range of effect is smaller than that of home versus away overall, but still significant. Notice that the home versus away effects are not equal, bringing us to the second interesting finding – the ratio of B2Bs played on the road versus at home has been about 2:1 over the past two seasons. On the upcoming 2016-17 schedule, 326 B2Bs will be played on the road, while only 162 will be played at home. With the effect of zero days of rest is clear from our research, I find this structural nuance of the schedule fascinating and makes clear that adjusting for rest disadvantage is critical to determining the true effect of home court – but we will leave that for another time.

We are now ready to voyage into the unknown waters of the 2016-17 season. For each team you will find an infographic and a short description of the interesting findings pertaining to that team and the new schedule. The infographic for each team contains shows the team's record from last year with the change in wins from 2015 to 2016 tagged to the end. The Rest Advantage section presents the three rest advantage scenarios similar to how you would see a batting average stat line in baseball – interpreted as: games with rest advantage/ games with rest disadvantage/ games with equal rest. I also provide the number of back-to-back (B2B) games each team and their respective opponents are scheduled to play. Finally, I list the four teams who each team will now be playing for a fourth time in 2017 after playing them only three times in 2016. With all the introductions out the way, let's begin with our old friends, the Atlanta Hawks.

Atlanta Hawks

2016 Record: 48-34, -12
Rest Advantage: 20 / 25 / 37 B2Bs: 18 Opp B2Bs: 19
New crop of fourth games: 76ers, Bucks, Cavs, Nets

Perhaps as punishment for failing to capitalize on a favorable schedule, the Hawks have been punished with a tougher schedule this season. The Hawks are tied for the most back-to-backs, the least number of average days of rest between games, and the second most games played at a rest disadvantage. Thankfully, they are blessed with a fourth game versus Philadelphia and Brooklyn. However, of the three games versus the new-look Indiana Pacers this season, two are on the road – both are the third game in four nights with a side dish of rest disadvantage.

Boston Celtics

2016 Record: 48-34, +8
Rest Advantage: 21 / 22 / 39 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 21
New crop of fourth games: Bulls, Cavs, Heat, Hornets

At a glance, the Celtics have one of the more balanced schedules in terms of rest in the entire league, with the average rest between games equal for them and their opponents. However, the opponent figure is misleading because Boston opens up with a back-to-back versus teams on their opening game (I code game one as five days' rest). Boston opponents are actually near the top of the league in B2Bs (21) and 3/4s (29). Additionally, the Celtics play more of their B2Bs at home than average. In pursuit of the number two seed in the East, Boston will have an opportunity to dethrone Toronto – the Celtics have the rest advantage in three of their four meetings. In another realm, snagging Al Horford added fuel to the fire between Boston and Atlanta, but the Celtics will have a tough go trying to avenge their first round loss with two of the three matchups with the Hawks coming on B2Bs with big rest disadvantages.

Brooklyn Nets

2016 Record: 21-61, -17
Rest Advantage: 14 / 19 / 49 B2Bs: 14 Opp B2Bs: 7
New crop of fourth games: Bucks, Bulls, Hawks, Wizards

In some ways, this Brooklyn Nets season is more important to the rest of the league than to the Brooklyn Nets themselves. With another bottom five finish on the horizon, the Bulls, Bucks, Hawks, and Wizards are celebrating an additional matchup with the Nets this season, while the Magic, Heat, Pistons, and Cavs are disappointed they only get three chances to beat up on these guys. To the Boston Celtics, who own a first-round pick swap with them, the fewest number of opponent B2Bs and the large average opponent rest advantage should only serve to bolster the value of their most prized asset.

Charlotte Hornets

2016 Record: 48-34, +15
Rest Advantage: 18 / 15 / 49 B2Bs: 16 Opp B2Bs: 15
New crop of fourth games: Celtics, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors

A combination of improved talent, changed offensive strategy, and a favorable schedule structure reversed the Hornets' fortune in the form of a 15-win increase in 2016 over 2015 and a playoff appearance. In 2017, those structural advantages remain intact and are expanded. In addition to half their B2Bs coming at home, the Hornets have a higher average number of rest days than opponents this season and more rest advantage games than those with a disadvantage – in fact, they have the second fewest disadvantage games in the league.

Chicago Bulls

2016 Record: 42-40, -8
Rest Advantage: 24 / 18 / 40 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 17
New crop of fourth games: Celtics, Magic, Nets, Wizards

As a Chicago-area native, the chatter around this Bulls' team is particularly loud on my radar. With a completely revamped roster, the Bulls will look to correct the mistakes of last season and take advantage of a similarly advantageous schedule. The Bulls are tied for the third most games with a rest advantage (24) and in the top ten of fewest disadvantages (18). Also, they have the third lowest average opponent rest days. Finally, Chicago has traded a fourth game versus three playoff teams in 2015 (Raptors, Heat, Hornets) for three non-playoff teams (Magic, Nets, Wizards) which could make a difference in what should be a very crowded East.

Cleveland Cavaliers

2016 Record: 57-25, +4
Rest Advantage: 20 / 23 / 39 B2Bs: 18 Opp B2Bs: 21
New crop of fourth games: Celtics, Hawks, Heat, Raptors

The defending NBA Champions have a mixed bag structurally. On the one hand, they have more disadvantages than advantages in rest – the opposite from last season. On the other hand, they face 21 opponents on B2Bs – tied for the most in the NBA and up from 14 last season. Probably as a result of heavy appearances on national TV, the distribution of rest days for both themselves and opponents is skewed towards two days of rest – the Cavs and their opponents are top three in the league in this category of rest (19.5% and 20.7% of games, respectively). Lastly, the Finals rematches take place on Christmas Day and MLK Day, but I'm sure you already knew that.

Dallas Mavericks

2016 Record: 42-40, -8
Rest Advantage: 16 / 20 / 46 B2Bs: 15 Opp B2Bs: 14
New crop of fourth games: Blazers, Jazz, Lakers, Suns

The Mavericks unfortunately face many challenges when it comes to opponents on their schedule. They face more disadvantages than advantages in rest, face only 14 opponents on a B2B (down from 20 last season), and their opponents have the highest average number of rest days in the entire league. One might think that 25 opponents coming off three games in four nights would make up for this, but in 16 of those games, the opponent has a day of rest. To top things off, Dallas has one of the worst finales to a four games in five nights stretch imaginable – a game versus the Warriors in Oracle.

Denver Nuggets

2016 Record: 33-49, +3
Rest Advantage: 23 / 22 / 37 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 17
New crop of fourth games: Clippers, Kings, Pelicans, Rockets

The Nuggets have almost the same schedule as last season. The rest advantage scenarios are exactly the same, the back-to-backs are equal again, and they play an extraordinarily low number of back-to-backs at home again (three out of 17). In terms of differences, the Nuggets come back from All-Star break with a back-to-back versus two well-rested opponents – inflating the opponent average number of rest days. Also, they are fortunate to only have three games this season versus the Warriors and Spurs. Finally, in an inquisitive deal of good fortune, they face three opponents playing their fourth game in five nights – the Clippers, Magic, and Jazz.

Detroit Pistons

2016 Record: 44-38, +12
Rest Advantage: 24 / 18 / 40 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 20
New crop of fourth games: Hornets, Knicks, Magic, Raptors

Entering year three under SVG, the Pistons hope to make another leap up the standings. The schedule will certainly come in handy. The gap between rest advantage and disadvantage games is one of the largest in the league with the third highest number of advantage games to boot. Most importantly, the Pistons have the lowest average opponent rest days – 87.9 percent of games will be played versus opponents with zero or one day of rest. The icing on the cake, in the same stroke of luck as the Nuggets, Detroit will face three opponents at the end of a 4/5.

Golden State Warriors

2016 Record: 73-9, +6
Rest Advantage: 26 / 22 / 34 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 20
New crop of fourth games: Pelicans, Rockets, Thunder, Wolves

I'm not sure the Golden State Warriors need any more help after a record-breaking regular season in 2016 and signing of Kevin Durant in free agency – but that's exactly what the Warriors will get from the schedule this season. Last year, the Dubs faced opponents more well rested opponents on average and had more disadvantages than advantages in rest. Those trends are reversed for this season to the point where Golden State has the highest number of games with a rest advantage. Looking at the fourth game situation, the Warriors avoid a fourth game with two of the teams many people feel pose the greatest threats to them this season – Utah and San Antonio. For the sake of the rest of the league, the news is not all rosy – only one of the 17 B2Bs the Warriors play this season will be at Oracle.

Houston Rockets

2016 Record: 41-41, -15
Rest Advantage: 22 / 21 / 39 B2Bs: 16 Opp B2Bs: 20
New crop of fourth games: Nuggets, Suns, Warriors, Wolves

If Houston struggles again this season, it can't blame the schedule. In comparison to last season, the Rockets have four additional games with a rest advantage and four fewer B2Bs. Houston is right about average in terms of proportion of B2Bs played at home (5/16). The kicker for Houston, though, is that they face the highest number of foes on the third game in four nights (31). Of note is that they are tied for the most number of games versus a team coming off three days of rest – recall that our research is inconclusive on whether three or more days of rest is truly an advantage.

Indiana Pacers

2016 Record: 45-37, +7
Rest Advantage: 20 / 19 / 43 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 19
New crop of fourth games: 76ers, Hornets, Knicks, Wizards

Even though their schedule has some features that harden it from last season, the schedule should put the reengineered Pacers on track to maximize the potential of the new roster. Opponents have fewer B2Bs and they have less rest advantage and more rest disadvantage games than last season. With that being said, they are the one of only two teams in the NBA with more B2Bs ending at home than on the road. In similar fashion as the Bulls, Indiana faces weaker competition in its new group of fourth game opponents – now only requiring three games versus four of the teams that finished ahead of them in the standings last season: Toronto, Miami, Boston, and Atlanta.

Los Angeles Clippers

2016 Record: 53-29, -3
Rest Advantage: 24 / 19 / 39 B2Bs: 18 Opp B2Bs: 17
New crop of fourth games: Grizzlies, Jazz, Nuggets, Spurs

Marred by injury and off-court nonsense, the Clippers 2016 season was a forgettable one, much like their 2017 schedule. The major feature of the schedule for the Clippers is the low number of 3/4s from opponents – lowest in the league, in fact. As a marquee team in the league, the Clippers will be featured this season on Christmas, New Year's Eve, and MLK Day – two of those games versus Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles Lakers

2016 Record: 17-65, -4
Rest Advantage: 16 / 25 / 41 B2Bs: 16 Opp B2Bs: 12
New crop of fourth games: Blazers, Mavs, Pelicans, Wolves

In its first season in the post-Kobe era, the young core in Los Angeles will get no breaks from the schedule. The Lakers will have five fewer games with a rest advantage this season and opponents will have five fewer B2Bs than last season (down to 12, one of the lowest in the league). Los Angeles faces one of the top three toughest schedules in terms of average opponent days of rest. Add in that only three of their B2Bs will be played at home and it looks like the Lakers might be able to keep their pick once again (top-three protected in 2017).

Memphis Grizzlies

2016 Record: 42-40, -13
Rest Advantage: 20 / 13 / 49 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 21
New crop of fourth games: Clippers, Kings, Jazz, Thunder

For my money, the Grizzlies are the sleeper in the Western Conference – assuming they can stay healthy, which is a big if. Bolstering my position on this team is the fortune in their schedule. The Grizzlies have the fewest games versus a more well-rested opponent in the NBA (13). They also are tied for the most games versus opponents on a back-to-back (21). They will have the second lowest average opponent days of rest and eight of their 17 back-to-backs will finish in Memphis. Finally, add Memphis to the list of teams with three opponents on their fourth game in five nights. Taken together with the offseason they had, the Grizzlies are poised to leap back into the elite of the Western Conference.

Miami Heat

2016 Record: 48-34, +11
Rest Advantage: 23 / 16 / 43 B2Bs: 15 Opp B2Bs: 21
New crop of fourth games: 76ers, Bucks, Cavs, Celtics

In terms of the schedule, you could consider Miami to be the Memphis of the Eastern Conference. They have the same seven game difference between rest advantages and disadvantages. Both face 21 opponents on a back-to-back. Miami is also in the top five of fewest average opponent days of rest. Miami does not, however, play any teams on a 4/5 and has only five games at home of their 15 B2Bs. However, of those five games, three of them are versus opponents also playing their second game in as many nights – neutralizing the back-to-back disadvantage. Miami has a great chance to join Memphis as a sleeper in its conference with a favorable schedule and, as some would argue, a successful offseason – assuming a fully healthy team.

Milwaukee Bucks

2016 Record: 33-49, -8
Rest Advantage: 14 / 15 / 53 B2Bs: 18 Opp B2Bs: 16
New crop of fourth games: 76ers, Hawks, Heat, Nets

As you may have noticed by now, teams are falling into two groups when it comes to rest advantage, those with more equal rest games than not, or vice versa. The Bucks are the league captain of the former group with a league-high 53 games of such ilk. Of the 14 games the Bucks will play with an advantage, five come with three days of rest, of which four are at home – the Bucks have the most instances of three days of rest in the league. Milwaukee also joins the Hawks as a beneficiary of an additional game versus both the 76ers and the Nets from outside the Atlantic Division.

Minnesota Timberwolves

2016 Record: 29-53, +13
Rest Advantage: 18 / 22 / 42 B2Bs: 14 Opp B2Bs: 18
New crop of fourth games: Lakers, Rockets, Spurs, Warriors

I must admit I am biased towards the Wolves. They are and always have been my favorite team, much to my misery. With Oklahoma City likely taking a step back, there is no clear favorite to win the Northwest Division, opening up more potential wins for a run at the playoffs for the Wolves. The positives from the schedule include 15 of the 18 opponent back-to-backs are of the three games in four nights variety, thanks to a large dose of 3/4s from opponents (27). Also, the 14 B2Bs is tied for the fewest in the league; and, they avoided a four games in five nights stretch themselves. However, they managed to pick up five additional rest disadvantage games over last season as well as a fourth game against each of the Spurs and Warriors. I would say that the schedule is probably a net neutral for the Wolves, which is better than a hindrance, as they hope to end the decade-plus playoff drought.

New Orleans Pelicans

2016 Record: 30-52, -15
Rest Advantage: 20 / 25 / 37 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 13
New crop of fourth games: Lakers, Nuggets, Thunder, Warriors

New Orleans can use all the help it can get to recover form last year's disaster. Unfortunately, the hits keep on coming because the schedule gods did them no favors. They are down from 28 rest advantage games last season to 20 this upcoming year – disadvantages are up from 23 as well. The number of opponent B2Bs have dropped from 20 to 13. These are some of the most dramatic reversals in the league. Putting them further behind the eight ball, only four of their B2Bs are at home - down from six last season. Can a healthier supporting cast around Anthony Davis overcome the obstacles of the schedule?

New York Knicks

2016 Record: 32-50, +15
Rest Advantage: 18 / 16 / 48 B2Bs: 15 Opp B2Bs: 14
New crop of fourth games: Magic, Pacers, Pistons, Wizards

With all the buzz surrounding the frenzy of moves this offseason, we forget that the Knicks improved a lot from 2015 to 2016, even if they were still not a playoff team. Certainly a healthy Carmelo Anthony and rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis played major roles, but the schedule may have as well – this year's schedule is not quite as beneficial. They went from a team with less equal rest games than not to the other group this season thanks to a nine game drop in games versus less well-rested opponents – note that they do still have an edge in advantage games (18 vs 16). The number of opponent B2Bs involves the most dramatic shift in the league – dropping from 25 down to 14. Unfortunately for Knicks fans, New York no longer has the luxury of a favorable schedule structure to supplement its quick turnaround mission.

Oklahoma City Thunder

2016 Record: 55-27, +10
Rest Advantage: 17 / 20 / 45 B2Bs: 15 Opp B2Bs: 14
New crop of fourth games: Grizzlies, Pelicans, Suns, Warriors

A pattern has emerged here late in the alphabet, where the schedule gods are nullifying schedule advantages with complete reversals from one season to the next. A tumultuous offseason for the Thunder certainly was not aided by the release of this schedule. From a three game edge in favor of rest advantage to a three game deficit in favor of rest disadvantage and a jump to the more equal games than not group, OKC will not win thanks to a generous schedule this season. We mustn't overlook the seven game dip in opponent B2Bs either. Alas, there is hope. In 2016, OKC had only two home games on B2Bs; in this upcoming season, they will have four home games on B2Bs – three of which will be against equally rested teams.

Orlando Magic

2016 Record: 35-47, +10
Rest Advantage: 15 / 18 / 49 B2Bs: 15 Opp B2Bs: 13
New crop of fourth games: Bulls, Knicks, Pistons, Raptors

Continuing the trend, the Magic lose their rest advantages from 2016 this upcoming season. The rest disadvantages, back-to-backs, and average rest days all flipped from in Orlando's favor in 2016, to in opposition to Orlando in 2017. The favor of average rest days for opponents is bolstered by two additional games with three days of rest by opponents – Orlando actually plays a smaller percentage of its games with zero or one day of rest compared to its opponents. There is an interesting game this season to keep an eye on – Magic @ Pacers, January 1, 2017. The Magic have the rest advantage (three days to one) but with New Year's Eve the night before, it will be interesting to see whether more or less days off improves performance around holidays – or just watch to try and guess which team/players enjoyed the festivities the night before.

Philadelphia 76ers

2016 Record: 10-72, -8
Rest Advantage: 18 / 20 / 44 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 12
New crop of fourth games: Bucks, Hawks, Heat, Pacers

With Sam Hinkie gone, the assumption would be a change in approach; instead, continuing to collect assets, the 76ers appear to be continuing more of the same – much like their schedule this season. Very little about the structure of the 76ers schedule has changed as they are still at a rest disadvantage across the board. In fact, they are tied for the fourth most average rest days by opponents. It seems awfully unfair that the lowly 76ers face more B2Bs, 3/4s, and 4/5s than their opponents, but maybe they are being punished for their “alleged” intentional losing. Making matters worse, the East looks to be very competitive in the middle, so taking nights off versus Philadelphia seems less likely than in the past – especially since most opponents will be well rested entering play.

Phoenix Suns

2016 Record: 23-59, -16
Rest Advantage: 16 / 14 / 52 B2Bs: 14 Opp B2Bs: 16
New crop of fourth games: Blazers, Mavs, Rockets, Thunder

The Suns have one of the most balanced schedules in the league. They are second in number of games with equal rest, just one game separates both their rest advantages from disadvantages and their B2Bs from that of their opponents; and they have the same number of games with two or more days of rest as their opponents. Outside of Indiana, the Suns are the only team with more B2Bs at home than on the road – in fact they have two more at home as opposed to one more in Indiana's case. How the heart of the West will shake out is so unclear at this point, but avoiding a fourth game with the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Jazz certainly worked out as well as they could have hoped for this season.

Portland Trail Blazers

2016 Record: 44-38, -7
Rest Advantage: 25 / 21 / 36 B2Bs: 15 Opp B2Bs: 16
New crop of fourth games: Lakers, Mavs, Spurs, Suns

Earlier I called the Milwaukee Bucks the captains of the more equal rest than not group; Portland is the captain of the less equal rest than not group. In fact, the Blazers will play the most games this season with more rest than their opponents in the entire league. The Blazers are also another team opening the season with consecutive games versus opponents playing their first game. Therefore, opponents have slightly higher average rest days than the Blazers, even though the Blazers and opponents play the same number of games with two or less days of rest. Just four of the Blazers' 15 B2Bs are at home and only two of the 15 are with equal rest.

Sacramento Kings

2016 Record: 33-49, +4
Rest Advantage: 18 / 20 / 44 B2Bs: 18 Opp B2Bs: 14
New crop of fourth games: Grizzlies, Jazz, Nuggets, Spurs

The Kings schedule structure exhibits a pattern seen by a few other teams in terms of number of rest days. Sacramento has a higher percentage of games played with zero rest days and two rest days than their opponents. On the flip side, their opponents have a higher percentage of games played with one day of rest than the Kings. All together, both the Kings and opponents play the same number of games with two days of rest or less. Overall, Sacramento's schedule is very similar in structure to last year. The big difference comes via the fourth game opponents. In opposite fashion of the Suns, Sacramento has their hands full with four games versus the Spurs, Grizzlies, Jazz, and Spurs – not to mention their divisional rivals, the Clippers and the Warriors. Those could be the top six seeds out West. Yikes.

San Antonio Spurs

2016 Record: 67-15, +12
Rest Advantage: 21 / 17 / 44 B2Bs: 15 Opp B2Bs: 11
New crop of fourth games: Blazers, Clippers, Kings, Wolves

As I hope you've gathered to this point, the NBA has made a point to reduce the number of back-to-backs and that is reflected in decreases in B2Bs from 2016 to 2017 for most teams. The Spurs will play two less B2Bs this season and their opponents will play eight less. One of the legacies of Tim Duncan and the Spurs may be the recognition of rest as an important factor in longevity and performance – the league is now following the steps of the Spurs to reduce the impact of the schedule on teams and players. However, back-to-backs will never disappear entirely as long as the league sticks with an 82 game regular season; and, unfortunately for the Spurs, six of their 15 B2B games will be played versus opponents with two days of rest entering play – a truly dangerous situation to be in on a back-to-back, whether on the road or at home.

Toronto Raptors

2016 Record: 56-26, +7
Rest Advantage: 18 / 28 / 36 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 12
New crop of fourth games: Cavs, Hornets, Magic, Pistons

The ascension of the Toronto Raptors over the past few seasons has been one of the best running stories in the league. After reaching the number two seed and the Eastern Conference Finals, where can they go from here? An improving Eastern Conference top to bottom and an increasingly tougher schedule could push Toronto back down the standings this season. No team has more games at a rest disadvantage or a larger gap between advantage and disadvantage games than the Raptors. Even with two additional opponent B2Bs they still have one of the lowest numbers in that category. Last season, opponents had a large concentration of games with one day of rest. This season, the games are distributed backwards – Toronto opponents are in the top five of number of games with two or three days of rest. All told, the largest average rest differential in the league belongs to Toronto – in favor of the opponent.

Utah Jazz

2016 Record: 40-42, +2
Rest Advantage: 22 / 22 / 38 B2Bs: 17 Opp B2Bs: 20
New crop of fourth games: Clippers, Grizzlies, Kings, Mavs

The Utah Jazz – everyone's darling team out West this season – are one of the most balanced teams in the league, with lots of two-way multidimensional players up and down the roster. The same balance can be attributed to their schedule. In essentially a repeat of last season, the Jazz have a slight advantage in B2Bs – negated in part by a 4/5 stretch not matched by its opponents. The rest advantages are identical – copied and pasted from last season – and the average days of rest are nearly identical. On B2Bs, they play eight of the 17 at home. Although, only five of the twenty games versus opponents on B2Bs will be played outside of Utah – an advantage carried over from last season as well. There is nothing in the structure of this schedule holding the Jazz back this season – it will be on the talent, the coaches, and the training staff if this team wants to finally crack into the playoffs as everyone expects.

Washington Wizards

2016 Record: 41-41, -5
Rest Advantage: 21 / 17 / 44 B2Bs: 16 Opp B2Bs: 18
New crop of fourth games: Bulls, Knicks, Nets, Pacers

Last season was a disaster for the Wizards. While they probably were not going to land Kevin Durant anyway, an underwhelming performance to cap off years of hunting the hometown savior certainly put the nail in the coffin. Perhaps the feud between John Wall and Brad Beal played a heavy hand in their tumble out of the playoffs because the structure of the schedule did not. With an eye to the future and building with what they have now, the Wizards again have nothing by way of structural disadvantages this season and actually have some slight advantages – fewer rest disadvantages, B2Bs, and 3/4s than their opponents. Additionally, they will not have a fourth game versus the top two seeds in the East last season, Cleveland and Toronto.