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Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James are in favor of reducing the current 82-game NBA schedule. Both feel there’s no need to play as many as 82 games during the regular season in order to determine each conference’s playoff teams.
The two superstars told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Dave McMenamin on Oct. 15 the league would be better off with fewer games to determine the eight-team playoff field in each conference:
“Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James see no need for the NBA to experiment with the length of the games.
“The length of the season? Nowitzki and James would be all for shortening it significantly, although they realize that business realities make that extremely unlikely.
“‘I think you don’t need 82 games to determine the best eight in each conference,’ Nowitzki said Wednesday. ‘That could be done a lot quicker, but I always understand that it’s about money, and every missed game means missed money for both parties, for the league, for the owners, for the players. I understand all that, and that’s why I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon.’
“James, speaking before the Cavs hosted a presesaon game against the Indiana Pacers, was adamant the length of games isn’t what should be at stake. And he said most of his fellow players are in agreement.
“‘No. It’s not the minutes, it’s the games,’ James said. ‘The minutes doesn’t mean anything. We can play 50-minute games if we had to. It’s just the games. We all as players think it’s too many games. In our season, 82 games is a lot. But it’s not the minutes. Taking away minutes from the game is not going to shorten the game at all.
“‘Once you go out and play on the floor, it don’t matter if you play 22 minutes — like I /4/be playing tonight — or you’re playing 40 minutes,’ James added. ‘Once you play, it takes a toll on your body. So it’s not lessening the minutes, I think it’s the games.’
“Nowitzki and James were piggybacking on the point made by Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra when asked about the league’s experiment with a 44-minute game, which will be played by the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics on Sunday.
“‘I think if there’s some way to find a way to cut out some of the back-to-backs so there aren’t 20-plus of them, I think that’s the bigger issue, not shaving off four minutes in a particular game,’ Spoelstra said. ‘But I’m open to seeing what happens with that.
“‘I think everybody probably agrees there’s too many games in a short period of time.’
“Nowitzki said he would recommend that regular-season schedules be trimmed from 82 games to the ‘mid-60s,’ although he said it’s not his place to say. Like Spoelstra, Nowitzki’s biggest issue with the current format is the back-to-back games.
“‘Honestly, I was never a big fan of back-to-backs even when I was 20 years old,’ said Nowitzki, a 36-year-old entering his 17th NBA season. ‘I think that you should never have to play at the highest level there is two consecutive nights and flying in between. You obviously make it work. We have the best athletes in the world, we feel, but I think it hurts the product some. Last year, some teams get here for the fourth game in five nights and we’ve been sitting here on rest and just blow them out.
“‘I don’t think it’s good for the product, but I also understand that 82 games is where it’s at. It’s a business, and everybody’s got to live with it.'”
The NBA issued a press release on the 44-minute preseason game between the Celtics and Nets on its official website on Oct. 14:
“The National Basketball Association announced today that it will play a 44-minute game during the 2014 NBA preseason when the Brooklyn Nets host the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on Oct. 19 (3 p.m. ET, NBA TV). The league is utilizing the preseason contest to examine the flow of a shorter game as compared to the standard 48-minute game.
“‘At our recent coaches’ meeting, we had a discussion about the length of our games, and it was suggested that we consider experimenting with a shorter format,’ said NBA President, Basketball Operations Rod Thorn. ‘After consulting with our Competition Committee, we agreed to allow the Nets and Celtics to play a 44-minute preseason game in order to give us some preliminary data that will help us to further analyze game-time lengths.’
“Application of the experimental 44-minute game will involve quarters being reduced from their typical 12 minutes each to 11 and a reduction in mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth quarters. During the 44-minute game, each quarter will feature two mandatory timeouts per quarter, with the first triggered at the first dead ball under 6:59 of the period if neither team has taken a timeout prior, and the second mandatory timeout subsequent to the first mandatory timeout.
“In the NBA’s 48-minute game, the second and fourth quarters have three mandatory timeouts.”
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.