The NBA schedule came out Monday, and the NHL schedule is already out. That means my yearly obsession with comparing the Timberwolves and Wild schedules is in full swing.
I will now attempt to transform a bunch of notes, circles and scribbles into some coherent information you can use (or choose to ignore, whatever, it’s your life).
*Let’s start with some good news: After the Wolves and Wild played on the same date a whopping 41 times last season — yes, that’s half the schedule in both the NBA and NHL — things are quite a bit better for fans of both teams who don’t want to have to choose which one to watch on a given night. This year, they only have 30 shared dates. That’s 11 fewer than last year and three fewer than two seasons ago.
What that means is there are 134 dates from early October until mid-April in which either the Wolves, Wild or both are slated to play. Last year, there were only 123 such dates because of all the overlap.
Of those 30 shared dates, 11 of them are home games for both teams while 19 involve one or both of them being on the road. But of those 11 shared home dates, the Wild plays in the afternoon twice while the Wolves have night games: Nov. 24, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving (Colorado at Wild, 3 p.m., Miami at Wolves, 7 p.m.) and Saturday, Dec. 16 (Edmonton at Wild, 2 p.m., Phoenix at Wolves, 7 p.m.). Go ahead and try a day-night doubleheader.
*Back-to-back: The NBA started its schedule earlier this year to prevent teams from having to play as often on back-to-back nights, but the Wolves actually increased their back-to-backs from 14 last year to 15 this year. That said, their 14 back-to-backs were among the fewest in the league last season and 15 is a common number this year. The Wild also has 15 back-to-backs this season. The Wolves will rack up plenty of air miles, though. Per this site, they will travel 55,319 miles on road trips this season — the most in the NBA.
*Road trip: Speaking of the road, fans of the Wild and Wolves have a couple of good options for dual getaways this season. The Wild plays in Los Angeles against the Kings on Tuesday, Dec. 5; the Wolves play at the L.A. Clippers the next night, Dec. 6; then the Wild plays at Anaheim on Dec. 8. Or, if you’d rather wait until early April, there’s this: Wild at Anaheim on April 4; Wild at Kings on April 5; Wolves at Lakers on April 6 (Wednesday through Friday).
*Circle your calendar: Here are five interesting games for each team:
Wolves: Oct. 20 vs. Utah (home opener, Ricky Rubio’s return); Nov. 15 vs. San Antonio (good early test vs. perennial Western Conference contender); Jan. 8 vs. Cleveland (only home game vs. LeBron James and maybe Kyrie Irving); Feb. 9 at Chicago (Jimmy Butler’s first game back in Chicago vs. the Bulls); March 11 vs. Warriors (only home game this season vs. Golden State).
Wild: Oct. 28 vs. Pittsburgh (only visit from defending Stanley Cup champs); Nov. 4 vs. Chicago (first home game against rival Blackhawks); Nov. 25 at St. Louis (first game against the Mike Yeo-coached team that knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs last year); Dec. 14 vs. Toronto (only visit from fun young East team); Dec. 16 vs. Edmonton (up-and-coming, exciting team in the West).
*Season-defining date: On Jan. 10, around the midpoint of both the Wolves and Wild seasons, the Wolves have a home game vs. Oklahoma City and the Wild plays at Chicago. The outcome of either/both won’t make or break the season, but each should be good measuring sticks and markers of progress for two teams with playoff aspirations. Remember, the Wolves and Wild have only made the playoffs in the same year one time in their dual history: the 2002-03 season. Vegas, by the way, has the over-under for wins set at 46.5 for the Wild and 45.5 for the Wolves. Will I be dumb enough to do this again? Stay tuned.