Wizards players like NBA’s miniseries schedule quirk originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON — The Wizards secured a big win over the Raptors Thursday night, putting them in a tie with Toronto for the ninth-best East record. However, the Raptors will soon have a chance to react as the two teams remain in Washington for a second game Saturday night.
It’s a recently added feature of the NBA schedule where teams play two-game miniseries against the same opponent more often. It’s almost like Major League Baseball, where teams stay in the same city for multiple matchups, even with a day off between games.
This scheduling method was used fairly frequently in the 2020-21 season when the league restructured everything to play games during COVID. But now the NBA continues to use the practice to remove some flights from the calendar.
“I wish the league played like this all season,” said Kyle Kuzma. “I think from a rest standpoint it’s probably for the best… body and fatigue, that’s the best for you. If you can stay a few days and not have to fly and get more inflammation. “
Reducing travel expenses was a big takeaway from Wizards players when asked. They’ve had two of those series on the road this season; in Milwaukee and Miami. Instead of having to fly twice to play the Bucks and Heat, they hit two games on those trips.
Toronto gets that benefit now that they stay in DC for a few more days. You can settle in like in the off-season.
“It feels more like a playoff series,” Unseld Jr. said.
Travel aside, Wizards players see advantages in playing teams back-to-back from a competitive perspective. In this particular series, the Wizards have two shots to play against a team they are fighting for the playoff position. It presents an opportunity to create some ground with wins that count for more than teams without the same kind of stakes.
The Wizards will have a similar situation next week when the Hawks come to Washington for two games. Atlanta currently holds the eighth seed in the East.
As Kuzma explained, these games can provide valuable experiences.
“It prepares you for mini-playoff series, whether you’re a veteran team or a young team, you need those kinds of games where you can play the same team twice and really test yourself,” he said.
The Wizards expect to be tested in Saturday’s rematch with Toronto. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is known for his shrewd defensive plans, which Bradley Beal has talked about many times over the years. He comes up with creative ways to make it difficult for Beal in particular.
Despite facing the same team and players, the Wizards expect a different dynamic when they next step onto the pitch.
“We need to know that they’re going to make adjustments,” Unseld Jr. said. “They’re going to heat it up, probably be more physical, maybe throw a little more schematic at us. Whether that’s Zone or Brad is blitzing, they’ll try to get him to get away [the ball].”