Twenty games is enough to let a team knock the rust off the offseason. Twenty games is enough for a team of new personalities to mesh and learn to play with each other. In the past, I would be talking about 2 twenty games being enough for a young team to set up a rotation and create an identity (sadly that never did happen last year).
I think we can all assume that this team is going to be very, very from the word go. With that said, I don't think the team will be able to prove it is great (or not great) in the first week or even the first month. It just takes time.
Practically speaking here's what this means: If this team loses to the Hawks in the fourth game, I won't be calling for Doc's head. If the team starts 5 - 0, I won't start talking about the Finals as a foregone conclusion. However, if after twenty games the team has won 15 of those games, I'll be feeling pretty great. If they can't win 10 of them, I'll be feeling pretty bad. On the other hand, if they drop the first 5 and end up winning 5 in a row, that's not so bad either. The season is long, a lot will happen between now and the end.
The players and coaches will take it one game at a time. I'm going to try to take things a quarter at a time. Of course I'll be riding the waves up and down and reacting to the games as they happen. I just want to reserve judgment till I've seen enough to make a judgment on.
So with all that said, lets take a look at those first 20 games.
Nov 2 vs Washington 8:00 pm ESPN, CSN
Nov 4 at Toronto 2:30 pm
Nov 7 vs Denver 7:30 pm
Nov 9 vs Atlanta 7:30 pm
Nov 10 at New Jersey 7:30 pm NBA, YES
That's a pretty tough opening week plus. Four playoff teams in five games. Atlanta would seem to be a pushover but then we get Jersey on the back end of a back-to-back. It should come as no surprise that Hibachi is fired up for this game. The whole league is going to be gunning for us now. Teams will get up for games against the C's like they would games against the Spurs, and we haven't even won anything yet. Come to think of it, maybe that's why they are even more fired up.
Nov 13 at Indiana 7:00 pm FSIN
Nov 14 vs New Jersey 7:30 pm YES
Nov 16 vs Miami 7:30 pm SUN
Nov 18 at Orlando 6:00 pm NBA
Nov 21 vs Golden State 7:30 pm FSBA
This stretch isn't much easier since 4 of them made the playoffs and Indy just missed last year. On the other hand, I see these teams as prime candidates to take a step back or fail to meet expectations. Golden State isn't as good as they played in the playoffs. Orlando is still putting the pieces together (like us). Miami will be missing Wade. Indy and Jersey are just going in the wrong direction.
Nov 23 vs LA Lakers 7:30 pm KCAL
Nov 24 at Charlotte 7:00 pm
Nov 27 at Cleveland 7:00 pm NBA, FSOH
Nov 29 vs New York 8:00 pm TNT, MSG
Nov 30 at Miami 8:00 pm
Thanksgiving week should be fun as the Kobe show comes to town (either Kobe will be on the team or we'll get to see what he left in his wake). Then there is the LeBron show. Then the Circus. Then Miami again. Did I totally just overlook the Bobcats? I think they'll actually sneek up on people this year (if Okafor can stay on the court).
Dec 2 vs Cleveland 12:30 pm FSOH
Dec 5 at Philadelphia 7:00 pm CSNP
Dec 7 vs Toronto 7:30 pm
Dec 8 at Chicago 8:30 pm WGN
Dec 12 vs Sacramento 7:30 pm KXTV
Another tough stretch with Cleveland, Toronto, and (Kobe's?) Bulls. If we are rolling by this time and can beat all those teams, I'll be feeling pretty happy about our chances this year.
How many wins do you think we'll get? Will we struggle to get everything fitting together or will we come out of the gates firing on all cylinders? Will you join me by waiting 20 games to make up your mind about this (or any) team?