By lopping off almost the first two months of the season, the NBA gave 30-somethings like Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki extra time to rest their legs, which have racked up their share of miles on the hardwood over the years.
Sixteen fewer games means 768 fewer potential minutes for veterans, whose energy is always a concern in the grind of a long season. The shortened training camp also meant teams that have been together longer — like the Celtics' core of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Garnett — had an advantage over younger teams with lots of new faces. Teams that already knew how to play together supposedly needed less time to install a new system or get comfortable with their roles.
On the other side, however, is the condensed schedule. Every team has at least one stretch of three games in three days, and aging legs take longer to bounce back. Playing more than sixty games in a span that is usually filled with a little more than 50 games could benefit teams that are younger and deeper.
Avoiding injuries is always important, but it's even more so this season, when a mildly serious injury could cost a player a third of the season.
The Celtics, who have the fourth-highest average age in the NBA this season, host the Mavericks, who have the highest average age, on Wednesday. Both teams still have championship aspirations, but the window of opportunity could be closing.
This season could turn out to be their greatest ally or their most daunting foe.
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