Wizards

How will the Wizards reschedule their postponed games?

Wizards

The NBA released the first half of its 2020-21 regular season schedule and only the first half for a reason, to allow flexibility to make up games in the event there were postponements due to the coronavirus. Sure enough, over a dozen games have been postponed, with the Wizards alone accounting for five of them.

As the postponements continue to pile up, it's naturally going to become more difficult for the league to reschedule all of them. But, as Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard explained last week, there are a few different methods they could use to get games in.

One would be changing the location of the games, especially ones between teams with great distances between the cities they play in. The first Wizards game to be postponed was at home against the Utah Jazz. When the Wizards fly to Utah later this season (their second meeting isn't scheduled yet) they could just play two games instead of one.

"We're probably not gonna ask Utah to fly back here across the country right now," Sheppard said.

For other games against teams that are from relatively closer cities, or ones that the Wizards play more often because they are in the Eastern Conference, it's possible they won't have to wait until the second half of the season to make them up. The Wizards have also lost games against the Pistons, Cavs (two games) and Hornets.

Though they aren't currently scheduled to play any of those teams again in the first half, perhaps they could meet somewhere on a scheduled off-night either in Washington or on the road to get the game in. That route, however, could get very complicated.

 

"We're ultimately not the only ones. Just because we have an open night, it doesn't mean the teams that we were postponed against have that same open night," Sheppard said.

Those teams will also need to avoid playing too many games in a row. The league only allows for back-to-backs, having gone away from the antiquated practice of games on three or four nights in a row. The rule was changed to prevent injuries and preserve careers and it's unlikely the players association would sign up for it again.

Looking at the schedules of each team, you can see the challenge the league will face. The Wizards' next open day where they could make up a game and not have three in a row would be Feb. 2. But that night, the Pistons and Jazz play each other in Utah and both the Cavs and Hornets play the night before and the night after. 

The next available nights for the Wizards would be Feb. 6 and 7. The Pistons and Cavs already have games that night and the Jazz and Hornets would have to do a back-to-back-to-back. 

It's not ideal and that's why the second part of the season was left blank.

"The NBA is going to look at everything. Nothing is written down right now and they are throwing out ideas left and right, as you can imagine," Sheppard said.

As of now, the league has shown no indication they won't make up games. The Wizards hope to play their way into the postseason picture and may need all 72 of their allotted games to do that. Their opponents will also want those games for the same purpose, in the case of a Jazz team potentially as they seek one of the top seeds in the West.

There is also another consideration: statistical leaderboards. In normal, 82-game seasons players have to appear in at least 58 games to qualify for rate statistics like points, assists and rebounds per game. That's about 70.7 percent of the season, which in a 72-game schedule would be 51 games. 

Wizards guard Bradley Beal currently leads the NBA in points per game with 34.9, but he wouldn't qualify for the scoring title if the season ended today, having only played 10 games when others have played as many as 15. That could also get interesting for guys who miss weeks of games due to testing positive and entering protocol. Jayson Tatum, for instance, has been out since Jan. 8 after contracting the virus.

Beal has already missed one of the Wizards' games due to protocol. The more he misses, or if any of his team's are not rescheduled, the less room he has to sit for rest or injury, if he ends up competing for the scoring title.

As you can see, a lot of things are up in the air right now. The Wizards want to play their games and so do the other teams that lost them. For now, all they can do is stay patient.

 

"There's going to be a lot of adjusting, but the NBA anticipated all of this. They are absolutely on top of it and we'll be in constant communication with them," Sheppard said.