Ranking the 10 Toughest Road Trips of the 2012-13 NBA Season
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
The NBA schedule definitely takes a toll on a professional basketball player, especially when said schedule possesses a grueling road trip. When fans look at the itineraries once the NBA releases them, they immediately look for the most entertaining matchups.
On the other hand, players and coaches, besides looking for the most anticipated games, search for any major leaves of absences, as they will have to disconnect with their families, friends and community for extensive periods of time
This year's schedule is full of long, strenuous road trips for every team that will create numerous storylines throughout the season. However, some organizations have it worse than others, but nobody is complaining. That is just the NBA lifestyle.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (January 18- January 27)
-Friday, January 18 @ Dallas Mavericks
-Sunday, January 20 @ Denver Nuggets
-Tuesday, January 22 @ Los Angeles Clippers
-Wednesday, January 23 @ Golden State Warriors
-Friday, January 25 @ Sacramento Kings
-Sunday, January 27 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
In the middle of their chase to recapture the top playoff seed in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder leave to battle a few tough rivals.
The Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers all were playoff squads last season and are expected to return to the postseason this year. Don't count out the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, though, as both teams are young, rejuvenated and added a few new key players to the rotation.
In order for the Thunder to state their case as one of the most dominant teams in the entire NBA, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co. need to show that their athleticism and skill can make up for their lack of size.
All of these squads are rather tall teams, especially the Lakers and Mavericks, and will almost certainly utilize this asset against OKC. If the Thunder find a way to keep this problem at bay, then there is no stopping them from going undefeated during this stretch.
However, winning half of these games would be considered a success.
9. New Orleans Hornets (April 3- April 10)
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
-Wednesday, April 3 @ Golden State Warriors
-Friday, April 5 @ Utah Jazz
-Sunday, April 7 @ Phoenix Suns
-Tuesday, April 9 @ Los Angeles Lakers
-Wednesday, April 10 @ Sacramento Kings
Besides the top two playoff spots in the Western Conference, which will most likely be secured by the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, the playoff picture is quite uncertain. Numerous teams throughout the conference have made major additions to their respective rosters, making obtaining a playoff berth more difficult.
One team who has reentered this race is the New Orleans Hornets. With rookies Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, along with returning superstar Eric Gordon, the Hornets are poised to break out this season under this effective youth movement.
If the team, though, wants to see postseason action, it will probably be a tight race. That is why this road trip may be crucial for the team. All five of these teams are West foes, searching for playoff spots of their own.
This portion for the Hornets will be entertaining, to say the least.
8. Golden State Warriors (December 5- December 15)
Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE
-Wednesday, December 5 @ Detroit Pistons
-Friday, December 7 @ Brooklyn Nets
-Saturday December 8 @ Washington Wizards
-Monday, December 10 @ Charlotte Bobcats
-Wednesday, December 12 @ Miami Heat
-Friday, December 14 @ Orlando Magic
-Saturday, December 15 @ Atlanta Hawks
The Golden State Warriors, much like the New Orleans Hornets, are eyeing the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, as their revamped roster has the talent to make a major push in the West.
However, the team will have to capitalize on the easier games not their schedule. It's a shame, though, that some of these matches come during a major road trip. During their time away from California in December, the team will face the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.
All of these teams will probably be at the bottom of the league in terms of wins, making this a golden opportunity for the Warriors. The extended time away from home may cause the team to slip, on the other hand.
Plus, the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets are formidable opponents for Golden State.
7. Detroit Pistons (November 2- November 10)
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
-Friday, November 2 @ Phoenix Suns
-Sunday, November 4 @ Los Angeles Lakers
-Tuesday, November 6 @ Denver Nuggets
-Wednesday, November 7 @ Sacramento Kings
-Friday, November 9 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
-Saturday, November 10 @ Houston Rockets
Seems like a distant memory when the likes of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace led the Detroit Pistons to Eastern Conference dominance in the mid-2000s. Now, the team is currently in a rebuilding period that has been under effect for quite some time.
Besides Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and possibly Andre Drummond, this team doesn't possess many quality prospects for the future, and their present isn't much brighter.
Nonetheless, this young squad has six straight road games to start off the season after their opening night home game against the Houston Rockets.
Simply put, the Pistons will probably dig themselves into their own grave early.
6. Brooklyn Nets (March 18- April 3)
Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
-Monday, March 18 @ Detroit Pistons
-Wednesday, March 20 @ Dallas Mavericks
-Saturday, March 23 @ Los Angeles Clippers
-Sunday, March 24 @ Phoenix Suns
-Wednesday, March 27 @ Portland Trail Blazers
-Friday, March 29 @ Denver Nuggets
-Saturday, March 30 @ Utah Jazz
-Wednesday, April 3 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
The Brooklyn Nets will spend nearly half of a month away from their beautiful, new Barclays Center. While that fact will be difficult enough for the organization, the competition they will be facing just adds on more difficulty to this tough road trip.
Hopefully, the Nets will have some cohesion between their players and a solid identity by the time the team starts their extensive time away from home. Nevertheless, the Mavericks, Clippers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Nuggets and Jazz will all match up well against this Brooklyn squad.
However, if Brooklyn finds offense outside of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson and their defense isn't too shabby, the team may be able to salvage a few wins during this period.
5. Philadelphia 76ers (December 23- January 5)
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
-Sunday, December 23 @ Brooklyn Nets
-Wednesday, December 26 @ Memphis Grizzlies
-Friday, December 28 @ Golden State Warriors
-Saturday, December 29 @ Portland Trail Blazers
-Tuesday, January 1 @ Los Angeles Lakers
-Wednesday, January 2 @ Phoenix Suns
-Friday, January 4 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
-Saturday, January 5 @ San Antonio Spurs
The Philadelphia 76ers will have a true test in December, as the team heads off for one of the toughest road trips in the NBA. Besides the New Jersey Nets, the franchise has to face a plethora of Western Conference rosters that are somewhat foreign to the 76ers.
Additionally, the team will still be acclimating to the presence of their dominant big man Andrew Bynum and the loss of lockdown defender Andre Iguodala.
Bynum will have a tough time during this stretch, as he will have to face the likes of Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Andrew Bogut, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Marcin Gortat, Kendrick Perkins and Tim Duncan.
If Bynum can once again prove that he is capable of being an elite center in the Association, Philadelphia will find success during this trying part of their schedule.
4. Chicago Bulls (January 30- February 24)
Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
-Wednesday, January 30 @ Milwaukee Bucks
-Friday, February 1 @ Brooklyn Nets
-Saturday, February 2 @ Atlanta Hawks
-Thursday, February 7 @ Denver Nuggets
-Friday, February 8 @ Utah Jazz
-Monday, February 11 vs. San Antonio Spurs
-Wednesday, February 13 @ Boston Celtics
-Tuesday, February 19 @ New Orleans
-Thursday, February 21 vs. Miami Heat
-Friday, February 22 @ Charlotte Bobcats
-Sunday, February 24 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
While this stretch isn't considered an actual road trip since the team has two home games during this period, it is remarkable to see how much the Bulls will be traveling from the end of January to the end of February.
Not only do are there no back-to-back home matches, but said home games are against the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, two perennial title contenders. Additionally, none of the teams, other than the Charlotte Bobcats, aren't capable of making the postseason, which should frighten the Bulls.
Derrick Rose, who is projected to return midway through the season, may want to wait til this stretch is complete. This is not a series of games that will be easy for him to acclimate back into the pace of the NBA game.
3. Los Angeles Lakers (January 30- February 10)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
-Wednesday, January 30 @ Phoenix Suns
-Friday, February 1 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
-Sunday, February 3 @ Detroit Pistons
-Tuesday, February 5 @ Brooklyn Nets
-Thursday, February 7 @ Boston Celtics
-Friday, February 8 @ Charlotte Bobcats
-Sunday, February 10 @ Miami Heat
Since the 1999-2000 NBA season, the Staples Center has been home to the Grammy Awards, which has caused the Los Angeles Lakers to take rather lengthy road trips. Except for the 2002-03 season, the Lakers' extensive time away from home has been trying for the squad.
This year will probably not be an exception.
A team that is still trying to find an identity, the Lakers will struggle to contend against these deep Eastern Conference rosters. Other than the Suns and Timberwolves, which are also in the West, these organizations are somewhat foreign to the Lakers.
Of course, this could cause the Lakers to slip, not helping their cause of becoming the best team in the NBA.
2. Los Angeles Clippers (January 30- February 11)
Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
-Wednesday, January 30 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
-Friday, February 1 @ Toronto Raptors
-Sunday, February 3 @ Boston Celtics
-Monday, February 4 @ Washington Wizards
-Wednesday, February 6 @ Orlando Magic
-Friday, February 8 @ Miami Heat
-Sunday, February 10 @ New York Knicks
-Monday, February 11 @ Philadelphia 76ers
If the Lakers have to leave due to the Staples Center hosting the Grammys, there is no way they take any exception to Los Angeles' somewhat forgotten squad.
While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have placed the Clippers back on the map, there is still a long way to come before they're considered the best team in the city.
Nevertheless, the Clippers will have a very difficult stretch during the beginning of February. Despite the depth and talent on this team, the franchise will have a hard time trying to find success. All of these teams are capable of standing their territory at home, which means the Clippers may struggle mightily during this period.
1. San Antonio Spurs (February 6- February 24)
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
-Wednesday, February 6 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
-Friday, February 8 @ Detroit Pistons
-Sunday, February 10 @ Brooklyn Nets
-Monday, February 11 @ Chicago Bulls
-Wednesday, February 13 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
-Tuesday, February 19 @ Sacramento Kings
-Thursday, February 21 @ Los Angeles Clippers
-Friday, February 22 @ Golden State Warriors
-Sunday, February 24 @ Phoenix Suns
Every season, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo causes the Spurs out of their environs for one of the longest road trips of the entire season. While other teams may struggle during a stretch like this, the Spurs have routinely posted solid win averages during these periods.
Whether it be their experience, talent, coaching or a combination of the three, the Spurs have found a way to channel out the lengthy time away from home, focusing on the basketball aspects.
This year, though, could be an exception.
The teams the Spurs are facing are quite formidable opponents, mostly specializing in athleticism and youth. Unfortunately, San Antonio struggles in these aspects.
While the rodeo is back in San Antonio, this is going to be a bumpy time for the Spurs.