I've been playing 2K14 for quite some time now and I've been tweaking the game sliders to my liking, trying to come up with the best combination of sliders that will give me the best, most realistic NBA results. So far, I'm able to push my once ungodly offensive rating from 130 through 8 games, now it's down to 120. Still ungodly, even by today's lofty offensive standards, but nonetheless an improvement.
During these times, I was able to study the Pelicans' upcoming set of games and it got me thinking -- wow our opening month is awesome. But how about the rest? Here, I won't offer a full game-per-game analysis (that would just be tedious and useless), rather I'm going to give a month-by-month breakdown of our schedule in some detail. Let's begin:
October - November
Number of Games: 15
Number of Back-to-Backs: 4 (HH = 0, HA = 1, AH = 2, AA = 1)
Home/Road Split: 8/7
East/West split: 6/9
Games against 2012/13 playoff teams: 6
Summary: This is probably the easiest part of our schedule. Of those 4 back-to-backs, the hardest one will be the last one -- a game in San Antonio, followed by a short bus home to New Orleans for a date with the Warriors. Otherwise, it's going to be an awesome start of the season to build chemistry for our team. We'll be playing 9 games against non-playoff teams - in fact, most of them are bottom rung teams like Philadelphia (twice), Orlando and Bobcats. Also, of those 6 games against playoff teams last year, 2 are against the Lakers, sans Kobe and Dwight. So yeah.
Predicted Record: I expect the Pelicans to lose the first game against the Pacers, the second night of a back-to-back against Memphis, then lose back-to-back against San Antonio and the Warriors. Of the remaining 11 games, I can see them losing two more in that bunch (probably the Cleveland home game and the Lakers away game). That leaves us with a record of 9-6.
Number of Games: 14
Number of Back-to-Backs:3 (HH = 0, HA = 1, AH = 0, AA = 2)
East/West split: 3/11
Games against 2012/13 playoff teams:9
Summary: It's a good thing our first month is easy - this month is going to be brutal. First, the back-to-backs are horrible: New York then Chicago, Golden State then Clippers, Denver then Houston. (OUCH!!!). Next, a couple of tough western conference opponents: a date with Oklahoma, who may or may not welcome Westy at that point, and, a week later, Memphis. Hopefully, the Pelicans develop some aforementioned chemistry and make good use of the easy first month.
Predicted Record: I expect us to lose both road-and-road games against New York and Chicago then the Warriors/Clippers California swing, that date against Oklahoma and the Houston away game. I'm confident we'll win the game against Memphis, Detroit and Dallas (built into a four game home stand, the other game being the OKC game). That leaves us with five tossup games: Sacramento is tough on the road, two games against Portland (one away, one home) and two games against Denver (one away, one home). If we get a 2-3 on those tossup games, splitting both the Portland and Denver games then losing the Sacramento road game, our December record will be 5-9. Au revoir, sparkling early season W/L record.
Number of Games: 16
Number of Back-to-Backs:5 (HH = 0, HA = 1, AH = 2, AA = 2)
Home/Road Split: 7/9
East/West split: 8/8
Games against 2012/13 playoff teams:6
Summary: The train picks up more steam once the new calendar year strikes. Between the East/West split, the number of back-to-backs and a load of road games, things won't get easier this month.
Predicted Record: Luckily, we'll only have 6 games against playoff teams. Of those 6 games, I expect us to lose 3 games (at Miami, at Indiana on the second night of an AA B2B and the first road game in an AH B2B against Memphis). The remaining three (San Antonio, Houston, Golden State) will be classified as tossup, since they're evenly distributed over a week in a cozy one week homestand.
Of the other 10 non-playoff team games, I'm looking at two assured losses, the brutal away-and-away to Cleveland then to Minnesota. I'm also looking at four confident wins - road game against Detroit and three home games against Orlando, Washington and Dallas. That leaves us with a total of four tossup games against non-playoff teams. Of the seven total tossups this month, I'm optimistically expecting 4-3 -- we'll take two on that homestand against the Spurs, Rockets and Warriors, hopefully win that road game against Boston despite flying all the way from a Minnesota game (not a back-to-back) and then the Sacramento game. That gives us a record of 7-9.
Number of Games: 13 (7 before the All-Star break).
Number of Back-to-Backs:2 (HH = 0, HA = 1, AH = 2, AA = 2)
East/West split: 8/5
Games against 2012/13 playoff teams: 6
Summary: At a quick glance, it looks like we get some form of reprieve from the whirlwind December and January, but we don't. After that brutal Cleveland/Minnesota away-and-away game, we're going to get a four game home stand against four very strong teams. We follow that up with a back-to-back across the Atlantic Division against Brooklyn and Toronto. After the All-star break, we welcome the Knicks at home before finishing our East Coast trip to play the Charlotte Kittens and the Wizards.
Predicted Record: I'm putting the Brooklyn away game and the Clippers home game (after traveling all the way from the US capital state) as sure losses. I'm also putting one of the Chicago/San Antonio games, during our four game home stand, as a loss -- either we lose at home against a tough Bulls team (after flying all the way from Minnesota) and then bounce back against the Finals runner up or we gut it out against Chicago, then find ourselves tired against an always rested and ready Spurs team. I'm also putting that Minnesota game at home as a loss. For some reason, Minnesota has our number. It's probably because of their Love/Pek combo -- we don't have the bangers to hang with these guys in the paint. Pegging the Atlanta game (at home) and Charlotte game (on the road) as wins. That leaves us with 6 tossup games. Hopefully, we can win four on the road against Phoenix, Dallas, Washington, Toronto or Milwaukee. None of them are terribly awful from a distance traveled or fatigue perspective. 7-6 seems like a reasonable split.
Number of Games: 16
Number of Back-to-Backs:3 (HH = 0, HA = 1, AH = 1, AA = 1)
Home/Road Split: 11/5
Games against 2012/13 playoff teams: 9
Summary: I think after the awesome October/November start, this March schedule will be just as important. Remember, at this point, the playoff race is getting tighter. If the season unfolds similarly along the lines I predicted, we'll have a record of 28-30 -- right in the mix of the teams that are "on the outside, looking in." This month, with it's favorable schedule, should allow us to gain momentum entering into the stretch run.
Predicted Record: I expect us to lose those three away games to start the month (against the Clippers, against the Kings and Lakers in a California roadtrip of sorts). After that, we'll have a six game homestand that I expect us to sweep (Milwaukee, Denver, Memphis, Portland, Boston and Toronto). We lose that AH B2B against Atlanta and the Heatles, then get a split between the Brooklyn/Clippers game. We win that game against Utah, lose the road game against the Spurs and win that final home game against Sacramento. In total, that's a 9-7 month, giving us a 37-37 record heading into the final games eight of the season. Stretch run people!
Number of Games: 8
Number of Back-to-Backs:1 (HH = 0, HA = 0, AH = 0, AA = 1)
East/West split: 0/8
Games against 2012/13 playoff teams:5
Summary: With a .500 record, the Pels will look to finish the season strong, hopefully propelling themselves to their first playoff appearance since 2010-11. That final four games will be crucial -- they are two games apiece against Oklahoma and Houston. Depending on how their seasons shake out, that can work either against or for us. Let's hope OKC/HOU are concerning themselves with resting key players, instead of focusing on playoff positioning.
Predicted Record: A loss against Denver, a road win against Utah (one of the few teams that we dominated last year. With both Millsap and Jefferson out, I don't expect that to change), a close loss against Portland on their turf, then finally a win against Phoenix. That leaves our record at 39-39.
Last year, Houston, with a 45-37 record, entered the playoffs. I feel this year 42~43 wins might be enough to get a team into the playoffs. Consequently, everything boils down to how we handle OKC/HOU. In all honesty, I see us winning 3 out of the 4 games as they'll be largely meaningless for the opposition. Oklahoma City learned first hand the importance of keeping their core healthy. Meanwhile, McHale, and his wealth of experience, will be focused on the bigger picture.
My season analysis in a nut-shell:
Predicted Record: 42-40
Home Record: 28 - 13 (Win-Loss Percentage of 68.3 percent)
Road Record: 14 - 27 (Win-Loss Percentage of 34.1 percent)
The home/road record is actually pretty typical for a young team vying for a playoff spot -- good @ home, miserable on the road. Overall, I think the schedule is perfect for our young team: time to gel and work out their kinks early (October and November), a December and January gut check spent largely on the road, a February and March that's both tough (9 games against playoff teams, most of them from the West) and easy (11 home games, few back-to-backs) and wrapping it all up with an April against opponents either tanking for lottery picks (PHX/UTH) or resting key players for the upcoming playoffs (OKC/HOU).
What say you? What do you think of our schedule for 2013/14??