Paul Pierce moved postgame like he does on the floor. He wrapped up his evening Wednesday night at his own pace, moving slow enough to appear fatigued just five games into the season.
Pierce had just shot 3-for-15 against the Indiana Pacers. He missed layups, jumpers from his sweet spots and 3-pointers. His game shoes were jammed into large plastic container that had slots marked by number. They would go on to Toronto with the rest of the team Thursday night to start the Wizards’ third set of back-to-back games in the first two weeks of the season.
Among the discussions around the league is length of season. The 37-year-old Pierce, not surprisingly, is ready for some changes. He’s had enough back-to-back games.
“I’d rather play every other day,” Pierce said. “I mean, it’s tough man, especially when you play so many, 82 games. You fly … People don’t understand the grind. You come home, you land at 2 o’clock, people say, OK, you’re getting eight hours rest. A lot of us eat when we land or we’re up for a couple hours, so you don’t go to bed until four, then you wake up and go to practice and got to pay the next night.
“So, it’s tough. Everybody has to do it but it’s tough on your body, especially the older you get. None of this is easy. Coach is always saying winning is not easy and that’s part of it. Maybe that’s the reason for the injuries. So many injuries every year, lack of rest, lack of nutrition. There’s a lot of things that can factor into that. Maybe it’s something the NBA ought to look at in the long run. Who knows if it will change? But, uh, it’s definitely a factor.”
The Wizards opened on the road in Miami and Orlando. Earlier in the week, they played at New York before coming home to face Indiana. They wrap five of the first seven games on the road tonight in Indiana after being whalloped in Toronto, 103-84, by a young, overlooked Raptors team. Pierce was 3-for-11 Friday night, making him 6-for-26 (23.1 percent) the last two games.
“It was a good old-fashioned butt-whooping,” coach Randy Wittman said.
The Wizards have a break coming up. They receive three days off following Saturday night’s game against Indiana before hosting four consecutive home games with at least a day in between each.
Washington has two more back-to-backs this month, giving it five in the opening four weeks of the season. In December, it has just two. In January the Wizards will play four back-to-backs. In February, two sets of consecutive games conspicuously grouped together at the end of the month. March only once and twice in April.
In order to eliminate them, there are two logical options: shorten the preseason or the number of regular-season games, the latter a common suggestion that has not gained much traction with the league.
“We can shorten up preseason,” Pierce said. “Four preseason games. Start the second week of October regular season. Maybe that would help the schedule rid a lot of the back-to-backs. There certainly should be a limit on that.”