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Breaking down the Clippers’ 2022-23 schedule

The Clippers weren’t too pleased last season, playing five games in seven nights at five different times, having the most in the NBA. They won’t have any of that in 2022-23 – a significant change for an older squad aiming to keep its players as fresh as possible ahead of the postseason.

Another potential upside: the closer the playoffs get, the longer the Clippers’ timeout schedule will be. In the last five weeks of the season, they have six breaks of two or more days between games.

That doesn’t mean the Clippers don’t have challenging stretches toward an explicit pursuit of the franchise’s first NBA championship. That easing of the schedule in the final weeks of the season? That’s because they will already have played 61 games by the All-Star break in mid-February — the second straight season the Clippers will have reached that number, the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017-18 and a long-forgotten franchise dating back to the 1950s years most connects NBA history.

With the NBA schedule released on Wednesday, here’s what could be some of the toughest parts of the upcoming 82-game regular season:

In December, when the Clippers pass the Quarter Poles of their regular season, they embark on two trips to the East Coast. The first is four games in seven days – including departure dates – between December 4th and 10th in Charlotte, Orlando, Miami and Washington. After 11 days in Los Angeles, they embark on a five-game journey from Christmas through New Year’s Eve: starting on December 23 in Philadelphia, then playing in Detroit on December 26, Toronto on December 27 and on to Boston on December 29 and Indiana on December 31st.

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Take the stress that builds up before the trade deadline and add the accumulated fatigue as the season ticks past its halfway point, and it’s easy to see why players and coaches see the All-Star break as an oasis. That goes for the Clippers. Between January 18 and February 16, they will play 15 games, 14 of which will be on a rest day or less. Eleven of those 15 games are on the way — although one is against the Lakers, allowing them to remain in Los Angeles. All of this comes at a time when the trading deadline is hitting, adding to the uncertainty in any locker room.

Opponents at this stage include several who could be playoff teams or strong contenders: two against Dallas and Milwaukee, and one each against the Lakers, Cleveland, Chicago, Brooklyn, Golden State, and Phoenix.

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Did we mention the Clippers want to be rested and ready for the postseason? Since the arrival of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in 2019, this has mostly taken the form of not playing their stars on back-to-back nights, although Leonard did play some back-to-backs again in his last full, healthy season in 2021 would have. A trade-off for zero five-in-a-seven stretches appears to play 15 back-to-backs, which is one more than last season.

While it’s not yet certain how often or when the Clippers would give their veterans a night off, there’s no doubt the team wants to stay as fresh as possible for a postseason run, and back-to-backs are the most likely way to achieve that. That means 15 games where the Clippers could have less than full strength for either game. Conversely, it also means 15 ways for coach Tyronn Lue to mix up his rotations and give younger players more playing time.

The Clippers back-to-backs list:

22-23 October: in Sacramento and at home against Phoenix

30-31 October: New Orleans and Houston

6th-7th Nov.: Utah and Cleveland

14-15 Nov.: in Houston and in Dallas

29-30 November: in Portland and in Utah

7th-8th December: in Orlando and in Miami

14-15 December: Minnesota and Phoenix

26-27 December: in Detroit and in Toronto

5th-6th January: in Denver and in Minnesota

17-18 January: Philadelphia and Utah

28-29 January: in Atlanta and Cleveland

2nd-3rd March: in the Golden State and Sacramento

18-19 March: Orlando at home and in Portland

March 31 to April 1: in Memphis and in New Orleans

April 8-9: Portland at home and in Phoenix (Regular Season Finals)

https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/story/2022-08-17/clippers-2022-2023-schedule-analysis-back-to-back-games Breaking down the Clippers’ 2022-23 schedule

Emma Bowman

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