What’s different about the 2017-18 NBA schedule this season? More rest, less back-to-backs

MIAMI — The NBA is trying its best to limit injuries and cut down on the number of games in which teams rest healthy players. Just take a look at the 2017-18 schedule that was released Monday.

With the regular season starting a week earlier this year on Oct. 17, the NBA was able to eliminate the “four games in five nights” scenario. For the first time in league history, the schedule does not have any team playing four games in five nights.

Miami’s James Johnson and Wayne Ellington celebrate during a victory in Detroit last season. (Photo by Getty Images)

It’s been moving in this direction, as there were 70 of these scenarios during the 2014-15 season. That was cut down to 27 in 2015-16, to 20 in 2016-17 and then zero this season. The Heat played four games in five nights once last season in December and went 0-4 during that tough stretch.

Back-to-back sets were also reduced to an average of 14.4 per team, down from 16.3 per team last season. The Heat will play on back-to-back nights 13 times this season, which is two fewer than last season and four fewer than both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

The Heat’s season will begin on Oct. 18 against the Magic in Orlando. That’s eight days earlier than the Heat’s Oct. 26 season-opener against the Magic last year.

That early start date doesn’t mean the end of the regular season will also be moved up. That extra week is to give NBA teams more days to play 82 games, not to finish the regular season earlier.

Miami played its final game of last season on April 12 and will finish this season on April 11.

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