SAN ANTONIO — Having lost his job with the Pistons and then detouring through the G League before catching on with the Nets last season, no one appreciates having an NBA career more than point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. But that doesn’t mean the working conditions don’t border on the ridiculous at times.
The Nets are two games into a stretch in which they will play seven games in 11 nights. That includes three sets of back-to-back games, and though the first and last games are in Brooklyn, they will travel to five cities in between (after beating Washington at home Friday, they lost at Indiana on Saturday).
Oh, and did we mention the stretch covers Christmas and New Year’s? From Indiana, some Nets took the charter flight back to Brooklyn, but others planned to fly to their homes for Christmas and rejoin the Nets on Christmas night in San Antonio, where they have a game Tuesday night. From there, they go to New Orleans for a game Wednesday and then fly to Miami for a game Friday before heading north for a game in Boston on New Year’s Eve. Then they hop the charter back to Brooklyn, where they will meet Orlando on New Year’s Day.
“When you say it like that, it sounds insane,” Dinwiddie said with a laugh. “Like almost comically insane, but ’tis life, ’tis the season. Hey, man, it comes with the job, it comes with the territory. They made the schedule and we go with it.”
Yes, but the schedule is about as difficult as anyone could dream up. “Three back-to-backs?” Dinwiddie said with a shake of his head.
Well, at least the Nets aren’t among the teams that had to play on Christmas Day, which has become a showcase for the NBA’s top teams.
“We travel on Christmas Day,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s not like we get Christmas. You fly on Christmas, and depending on where you’re flying from, you could be in the airport for five hours. I’d rather play in New York on Christmas Day and have a couple of games here, and I could fly everybody here, and they could all kick it on Christmas.”
The schedule is an eye-opener for rookie Jarrett Allen, but he caught one big break. Because his family lives in Austin, Texas, he planned to catch a flight from Indianapolis to Austin and then drive to San Antonio, where he could play in front of family and friends. “It really works out perfect for me,” Allen said.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said the club’s performance team has planned a strategy to cope with the travel, just as it did earlier in December when the Nets had to play two games in Mexico City at 7,382-foot altitude after playing a road game in Atlanta. “Everybody in the NBA is going through it,” Atkinson said. “We definitely have a plan.”
When the Nets complete their current stretch, they will have played 21 games in a span of 32 days, including 13 road games. Technically, the two games in Mexico were home games, but they were a long way from Barclays Center.
“The Mexico trip was tough,” center Tyler Zeller said. “Just travel-wise, it kind of throws you out of whack because it’s not the normal NBA schedule. You come back at 6 a.m. At the same time, it’s something you get used to if you play in the NBA long enough.”