Ins and Outs of NBA’s Shortened 2011-2012 Schedule

First and foremost, it's terrific knowing that there will be basketball this year.

The NBA Lockout has all but come to an end and we're only a few weeks away from getting our first taste of NBA action for the 2011-2012 season.

Once the lockout met its demise, NBA commissioner David Stern announced that the regular season would be cut from 82 games to 66 games. Considering how much of a lost cause the NBA season appeared to be only a week or so ago, the current state of the season seems like a best-case scenario.

Don't take this the wrong way; I'm ecstatic that there's going to be a 2011-2012 NBA season. I had almost lost hope, but the sun burst through the clouds and gave NBA fans everywhere reason to be optimistic. Despite this, the way that the league is managing to fit 66 games into a shortened season could make for 66 displays of sloppy, fatigued basketball per team.

On Christmas Day, Dec. 25, the NBA will tip off the 2011-2012 regular season, which was originally scheduled to begin on Nov. 1. After 990 games crammed into four months, the regular season will come to an end on April 26. Although that bolstered workload doesn't seem too overwhelming (a jump from 3.5 games per week to 3.9), it will definitely take a toll on players league-wide.

Typically in an NBA season, teams have to endure a number of back-to-back games. Not only are these taxing on the body, but they also do a terrific job of draining players mentally. Those, however, are nothing compared to what the players will have to endure this season.

Say hello to back-to-back-to back games. Three games in three nights for one team. There's no better way to welcome back an out-of-shape NBA player.

With a 66-game schedule, including 48 conference matchups, each team won't be visiting each of the other 29 NBA cities as in seasons passed. 18 non-conference matchups will allow for only nine away games, leaving six other destinations off of the agenda.

But wait; there's more! Not only does the shortened schedule affect the regular season, but it leaves its mark on the playoffs.

After the regular season ends on April 26, the playoffs begin two whole days later on April 28. That means that the top teams will be well-rested and the lower seeds who spent the last few days of the regular season busting their tails to gain positioning will be at even more of a disadvantage.

Hold on; it gets even better! Each playoff team will have to endure a back-to-back in the second round, which will wear away even more of the magic that typically accompanies the NBA playoffs.

There is, however, one positive aspect of this situation that the NBA and its players have found themselves in. With the lack of rest between games, teams will be forced to use those players that make millions of dollars to warm the pine all year.

With more fatigued players comes less baskets made and less points scored. We'll definitely find ourselves watching bench players more often, which could also lower the excitement that typically radiates from NBA games. Less excitement equals less interest from fans. It looks like this lockout has concocted its own winning recipe for boring basketball.

Kudos to both the NBA and the players; if you were looking for a way to shoot yourselves in the foot, you definitely found it.

For more NBA coverage courtesy of Gil Alcaraz IV, make sure to follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV.