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The NBA schedule is a little bit easier on players.

Byline: Tim Reynolds AP Basketball Writer

The NBA schedule is a little bit easier on players.

Fans might be catching a break -- and some more sleep -- as well.

The league announced its 2019-20 schedule on Monday, featuring another dip in back-to-back games for teams and a major change in the number of nationally televised games starting at 10:30 p.m. on the East Coast. Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers will start several games a half-hour earlier than usual, while broadcasters ESPN and Turner are going to earlier start times on many of their midweek doubleheader nights.

Such a change has been on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's mind for some time, especially since roughly half of the nation's television homes are in the East time zone -- but now, a number of the league's biggest stars play on the West coast. It wasn't uncommon for nationally televised midweek games to end around 1 a.m. or even later last season, and that was not good for ratings.

"It's something that I think we have to address," Silver said in May.

And changes are definitely coming.

ESPN's Wednesday doubleheaders -- mostly at 8 and 10:30 p.m. last season -- will begin at either 7 or 7:30 p.m., followed by a second game at either 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. in the East. TNT had nine Tuesday doubleheaders last season with the second game starting at 10:30; this season that number is down to two, with the second game now mostly starting at 9:30 or 10 p.m.

In all, there were 57 games on national television starting at 10:30 p.m. last season. That number falls to 33 this season, a dip of 42 percent.

Meanwhile, players might be getting a touch more rest this season as well. For the fifth straight year, the NBA has found a way to lower the average number of times a team has to play on consecutive days. The league average is 12.4 back-to-backs this season, down from 13.3 last year and down 36% from the average of 19.3 five years ago.

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Title Annotation:Sports_
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Aug 13, 2019
Words:359
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