Tanking fans, take note: After viewing the NBA's new 66-game season structure, it's safe to say the Houston Rockets may lose plenty of games this year regardless of intent.
NBA.com released a memo -- did you get the memo? -- breaking down the basics of a squashed schedule. Here's what we're looking at:
Conference Games: 48
• Play 6 teams 4 times (2 home, 2 away)
• Play 4 teams 3 times (2 home, 1 away)
• Play 4 teams 3 times (1 home, 2 away)
Non-Conference Games: 18
• Play 3 teams 2 times (1 home, 1 away)
• Play 6 teams 1 time at home
• Play 6 teams 1 time away
Back to Back to Backs: All teams with at least 1; no more than 3
Playoff Back to Backs: Possible in second round
So, like, we get to play more games in the Western Conference? That, like, sucks, man.
Pro Basketball Talk's Rob Mahoney noticed this pretty durn quickly:
That could spell bad news for the Houston Rockets, a team forever stuck on the playoff fringe. For all of their efforts last season - the Rockets won 43 games, just three short of the eighth seed - Houston still managed to rank dead last in the very competitive Southwest division.
Part of the reason for that: a 5-11 record against the four other teams in the Southwest, which filled a chunk of the Rockets' schedule with dropped games against tough competition.
As a team likely to fall again on the playoff cusp, the margin for error is already painfully small; the Rockets will somehow have to make the most of their more difficult schedule, lest they end another year in the lottery.
Only Houston's luck. But seriously, tankers, you've got a ton more ammunition now. You get to constantly pose the question: Is this a good thing? In Tanking Theory 101, you do everything you can to not tank, and then you try to let "unfavorable circumstances" take charge, thereby inadvertently tanking so long as you're in the mindset that losing games in order to get high draft picks is a good thing.
To some, the Rockets could use some of that bad luck that often took form when the team didn't need it. We've seen nothing but a bunch of overachieving basketball the past two seasons -- it hasn't gotten Houston anywhere. The team won games without a star player in a rough conference... and still fired its coach as if it had finished under .500.
The road will be tougher for the Rockets now, perhaps rough enough to sink them down further into the lottery. I don't know whether to celebrate, cry or simply punch myself in the face for presenting this news in such trolling fashion.
We're such fans, you guys.