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NBA Schedule Breakdown

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

It’s that time again to look at the NBA schedule and try to find some shortcuts in leagues that start weekly lineups. The schedule is much more spread out and fair this season, with things kicking off early on Oct. 17, but there is still a team with a  five-game week (Kings) and a disparity between teams having four games in one week. With the extra week thrown in this season, there are 26 weeks instead of 25, which could come into play in how your playoffs shake out.


4-Game Week Rankings over the course of the season


12 four-game weeks


Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies


These are your winners if you are interested in having as many four-game studs out there as you can each week. Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Dwight Howard, Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green and Marc Gasol are all winners here.


11 four-game weeks


Indiana Pacers, Portland Trailblazers and Toronto Raptors


Eleven four-game weeks are nothing to sneeze at and Myles Turner, Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young , Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka are all in good shape as far as four-game weeks go.


10 four-game weeks


Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs


The teams with either 10 or nine four-game weeks are in the middle of the pack, so don’t worry about the weekly game numbers and draft away.


9 four-game weeks


Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder


Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and sleeper James Johnson all go four times a week nine times. Not bad.


8 four-game weeks


Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, *Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards


With two other teams seeing 12 four-game weeks, getting just eight of them from studs like LeBron James, Kevin Love, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Jrue Holiday, Kristaps Porzingis, Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Buddy Hield, Rudy Gobert, Ricky Rubio, John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter is not something to take lightly. Then again, I wouldn’t hesitate drafting any of them because of the four fewer four-game weeks than the Hornets and Grizzlies have.


*Beware that the Kings are the only team with a five-game week and it happens in Week 20, which starts on Feb. 26. Unfortunately, this is likely to happen before your league’s playoffs start.


7 four-game weeks 


Milwaukee Bucks


The Bucks schedule is the pits! Only seven four-game weeks over the course the season and they start the season off with seven straight three-game weeks. They play just three games in 10 of the 11 first weeks, and don’t even get the fantasy playoffs started off on the right foot, although their playoff schedule is middle of the road - More on that later. This is bad news for Giannis Antetokounmpo, but is not enough to stop us from taking him near the top of your draft.


Playoff Schedule


This is hit or miss depending on your head-to-head league’s playoff schedule, but generally, in the past, the fantasy playoffs tend to run from Week 21 to Week 24. But with the extra week thrown in this season, you may elect to run your league a little deeper into the season. Especially since Week 25, which used to be a two-gamer for most teams, now features nine teams with four-game weeks, while three of them play just twice. Studying the fantasy playoffs schedule could pay huge dividends, especially if you avoid the two-game week players in Week 25. We take a look at five playoff weeks this year, starting with Week 21 and stopping with Week 25, which is the last week that will feature a full slate of games. Teams play just one or two games in Week 26.


Here is the breakdown on games played Weeks 21-25 (five weeks):


CHI: 4-3-4-4-3 – 18 Games

CLE: 4-3-4-4-3 – 18

GSW: 4-3-3-4-4 - 18

HOU: 4-4-4-3-3 – 18

LAC: 3-4-4-4-3 – 18

LAL: 4-3-3-4-4 – 18

MEM: 4-3-4-4-3 – 18

PHI: 3-3-4-4-4 - 18

*TOR: 4-4-4-2-4 – 18


These teams generally all have three four-game weeks during the playoff stretch, although don’t sleep on the Raptors. They have a two-game dud in Week 24, but play four games every other week of your potential playoffs. And if your playoffs run Weeks 23-25, Philly has a perfect four-game slate.


ATL: 3-3-4-3-4 - 17 Games

CHA: 3-3-4-4-3 – 17

DAL: 3-3-3-4-4 – 17

DEN: 4-3-3-4-3 – 17

DET: 3-3-4-4-3 – 17

IND: 4-3-3-3-4 – 17

MIA: 4-3-4-3-3 – 17

MIL: 3-3-4-4-3 – 17

NOP: 4-4-3-3-3 - 17

ORL: 4-3-3-3-4 – 17

POR: 3-4-3-4-3 – 17

SAS: 3-4-4-3-3 – 17

UTA: 4-3-4-3-3 – 17


These teams all have just two four-game weeks during the potential playoff stretch, but the good news is that there are no two-game weeks here.


BKN: 3-3-4-3-3 – 16 Games

BOS: 3-3-3-3-4 – 16

NYK: 3-3-4-3-3 – 16

PHX: 3-3-3-4-3 - 16

SAC: 3-4-3-4-2 – 16

WAS: 3-3-3-4-3 – 16


The Kings pay for their Week 20 five-game week with a two-gamer for Week 25. The rest of these teams all have just one four-game week sandwiched between a bunch of three-gamers in the fantasy playoffs.


OKC: 3-4-3-3-2 – 15 Games


The Thunder only get one four-game week in the fantasy playoff stretch, which is a total buzzkill for Russell Westbrook and Paul George. But it is what it is, and you shouldn’t let the poor playoff schedule stop you from drafting them. It’s a long season.


MIN: 2-3-3-4-2 – 14 Games


Minnesota’s playoff schedule is basically a joke. Not only do they play four games just one time during the fantasy postseason, they play just two games in Weeks 21 and 25. If you’re building your team around the fantasy playoff schedule, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague should probably be traded around the All-Star break. 


Schedule Anomalies


Week 1: Every team plays either two or three games in Week 1.


Week 5: The Thunder are the only team with two games this week.


Week 11: Christmas Week, only the Blazers play two games this week.


Week 13: The Nets, Nuggets, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers, Bucks, Wolves, Pelicans, Blazers, Kings and Raptors all go four times this week. However, the Celtics and Sixers only have one game.


Week 15: Only the Magic play two games this week, while the rest of the league goes three or four times.


Week 17: Only the Spurs play two games this week, while the rest of the league goes three or four times.


Week 19: While every team only plays once or twice the previous week surrounding the All-Star break, in Week 19 the Hornets, Cavaliers, Sixers and Wizards play three times. Meanwhile, the Hawks, Nets, Pacers and Raptors have just one game on the schedule.


Week 20: Every team, except for the Spurs (2 games), plays at least three games this week, while the Kings are the only team in the league with a five-game schedule on the grid this season and it falls on Week 20. Owning Kings and going against Spurs could be very beneficial in this week.


Week 21: Every team but the Wolves plays three or four games this week, but Minnesota is saddled with a two-game week here.


Week 24: Everyone goes three or four times this week except for the Raptors, who get stuck with a two-game week in the heart of the fantasy playoffs.


Week 25: Most teams go three or four times in Championship week, while the Wolves, Thunder and Kings only have two games on the schedule.


Good luck this season and be sure to use the weekly schedule grid (and this column) to your advantage!

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for NBC Sports Edge and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-21 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for NBC Sports. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.