If you feel like the NBA Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings has taken forever, you’re not alone.
Sacramento stole Game 6 at Chase Center on Friday night, 118-99, sending the series to a seventh and decisive game that’ll be played on Sunday at Golden 1 Center. Despite neither team needing to get on an airplane at any point during the series, the seven-game series will take 16 days to reach a conclusion.
For some perspective, the series began on April 15, the second day of the first weekend at Coachella. Since then, the Empire Polo Club in Indio has completely transformed for the Stagecoach Festival.
The series’ length hasn’t just been a product of the tight nature of the games. There’s also been an obscene amount of off days. The teams had two days off between Games 2 and 3, another two between Games 3 and 4 and two more between Games 4 and 5.
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Unlike the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies, teams aren’t flying across thousands of miles or multiple time zones. It’s a two-hour bus ride. By the time the series ends on Sunday, the second round will have already begun, with the New York Knicks and Miami Heat tipping off in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
It’s in stark contrast to the NHL’s playoff schedule. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are separated by nearly 1,100 miles, yet their series has been far more efficient. They began their Eastern Conference First Round series on April 18, and will play Game 6 on Saturday. That’s six games in 12 days, with the only two-day break between Games 4 and 5, when the teams flew from Florida back to Ontario. If the series requires a seventh game, it’ll be played on Monday.
Perhaps the most stunning part of the NBA playoff schedule is its deviation from how the regular season is conducted. From March 15 to 22, the Warriors played five games in eight days, ranging from as far west as Los Angeles to as far east as Atlanta. That stretch included back-to-back games at Atlanta and Memphis. In the entire month of March, Golden State played 16 games, only getting two days between a game once.