For some teams, prepping for back-to-backs important
Players have an open disdain for back-toback games in the regular season, even while understanding there’s no way around them when trying to wedge 82 games into 170 days.
So some teams are spending part of this preseason trying to get ready.
NBA teams get to largely dictate their own preseason schedule, and nine clubs opted to have at least one set of back-to-back games on their exhibition slate. Most are going on this weekend, with five teams — Toronto, Cleveland, Miami, Golden State and Chicago — playing either the first or second night of a back-toback on Friday.
“It’s good practice for us,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “We want to approach it the way we’re going to approach it a few weeks from now, because they’re coming. And so the way we mentally approach back-tobacks ... we’ve got to get excited about it. Even though deep down we know it’s exhibition, we’ve got to get into a mindset of how do we prepare mentally, how do we prepare physically.”
Most teams around the league avoided them entirely. And Toronto’s isn’t a true back-to-back, per se — the Raptors were playing Cleveland on Thursday, then stepping out of the NBA realm to play the Argentinian club San Lorenzo on Friday.
The Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers are subjecting themselves to preseason back-to-backs twice. And it could be argued the Heat are playing three of the dreaded sets, when factoring in their open scrimmage on Monday night that was the prequel to Tuesday’s preseason game against Brooklyn.
“I want our guys to feel a lot of different situations,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he didn’t mind them since they allow for more practice time, and he structured his schedule accordingly. Outside of his back-to-backs on Oct. 4 and 5 and Oct. 17 and 18, his team plays only twice during the 11-day span in between.
“I just think eight games is too many for guys,” Rivers said. “I think this is nice. You play guys minutes, almost all of them. You give some guys a rest in some of them. I think it’s good.”
The Heat, who open their first back-to-back in San Antonio on Friday, have two in the span of a week. That closely mirrors something that happens during the course of the regular season. The NBA has made strides in recent years to reduce how many times each
VITALS: 21, 5-10, 200, rookie.
CAREER STATS: 3 games, 5 catches for 64 yards, 0 TDs.
Marshall has missed the last two games with a torn labrum, but could return against the Cardinals. He provided some flashes in training camp and in the preseason, but also dealt with lapses in concentration with a few drops. Marshall was also serving as the Jets’ primary returner before he was injured, but could share those duties with the recently signed Nick Marshall if New York opts to have him focus more on offense. He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State after playing just two years.
VITALS: 23, 6-2, 209, rookie.
CAREER STATS: 5 games, 4 catches for 36 yards, 0 TDs.
Peake was a seventhround pick out of Clemson and faced long odds club has to endure games on consecutive nights — or the even-more-dreaded fourgames-in-five-days, something that’s now a rarity.
“Last year I hated it in the preseason,” said Heat forward Justise Winslow, entering his second season. “But now I realize the purpose of it, just so guys can feel it, feel what it feels like mentally and physically.”
Minnesota plays its preseason back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday. The other two teams with them on their exhibition schedule are Charlotte and New York, clubs that decided put them toward the end of their preseason slate.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said it provides him with a chance to evaluate some players whose roles might still be unclear — and that, as one might expect, stars like Carmelo Anthony won’t log big minutes like they would in the regular season.
to make the Jets’ roster before consistently making plays throughout the summer. He scored his first NFL touchdown not on a catch, but a fumble recovery against Seattle in Week 4. Two surgeries on his left knee early in his college career likely scared off some teams, accounting for his relatively low draft spot.
VITALS: 24, 6-1, 199, second NFL season.
CAREER STATS: 10 games, 9 catches for 115 yards, 1 TD.
Smith was a secondround selection out of Ohio State last year, but has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency. He’s currently on reserve/ physically unable to perform after having surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last December, but is eligible to begin practicing next week. Smith’s status is uncertain, but he could add some much-needed speed, terrific athleticism and bigplay ability when he’s fully healthy.