The Washington Wizards 2013-14 schedule was just released, and you can find the whole thing here. Sure, every team plays the same number of games and against what are more or less equally difficult schedules, but the timing of and circumstances surrounding each contest can have a large effect on the team's level of play.
Here are some quick thoughts on the schedule:
November is going to be brutal. Washington kicks off the year with five sets of back-to-back games during the season's first full month, including two sets of four games in five days. The most difficult of the games will be a road game at San Antonio the night after visiting Dallas, but there are also road games at Oklahoma City, Miami and Indiana. If there's a silver lining here, it's that Washington probably wouldn't have beat the Spurs anyways, so hopefully they'll be able to steal a win from a still-meshing revamped Mavericks squad.
Even if it weren't for all of the back to backs, the first month of the season will be difficult. Ten of Washington's first 16 games will be on the road and, when you factor in the added fatigue that comes with traveling and playing multiple nights in a row, it's easy to foresee another slow start to the season. That said, Washington opens the season against Detroit and two of their next three games will be against Philadelphia, so a 3-1 start isn't out of the question. Even if Philadelphia catches Washington sleeping once, their presence should be enough to prevent another season in which Washington doesn't win its first game until after Thanksgiving.
December and January are when the team should start to find its groove. The schedule lightens up a bit and there aren't quite as many back to back or road games. Of the 28 games that will be played in this two-month period, 12 will be against teams that should be relatively easy wins. Assuming Washington can even go .500 against the rest of their schedule during this period, they should be able to make up some ground in the race for the playoffs.
February should feature a lot of highs and lows for the team. The weeks leading up to the All-Star break should be particularly tricky. Washington will see Golden State, Oklahoma City, the Clippers and San Antonio during one particularly-rough nine day period. Fortunately, once the break is over, Atlanta or Cleveland will be the best teams the Wizards face until March.
March is relatively crowded, with the team playing 16 games in 31 days, but only four of these will be played as back to backs. The schedule will also be light in terms of their opponent's talent levels, as seven of these games will be against bottom-dwelling teams that will probably be in tank mode.
April should be a cake walk. More likely than not, the last time the Wizards will play a team that would have anything to gain by winning will be on April 4 when they play the Knicks. Other than that, April will feature two matchups with the Celtics, a game against Miami's scrubs and reserves assuming the Heat have wrapped up a high seed and a couple of lottery teams that will almost certainly be more concerned with the draft than the playoffs.
Overall, Washington is going to play 20 sets of back to backs throughout the course of the season and only those two November four-in-five stretches. The schedule sets up for the Wizards to start slow, hit their stride before the All-Star break and hopefully close the season on fire.
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