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Insider

The NBA's back-to-back problem

In the first installment of a three-part series on the NBA's 2014-15 schedule, Tom Haberstroh examines the league's decision to add a longer All-Star break at the expense of fewer rest days during the season. Thursday will present possible solutions to the NBA's schedule issue, and next week will reveal the most grueling parts of the NBA schedule.

Certainly commissioner Adam Silver and the league office have their hands full right now, but there are other pressing NBA issues, such as the brutal schedule.

A total of 1,230 games will be played in just 170 days. This stuff is exhausting. To put it in perspective, a handful of the NBA's most precious stars such as Kevin Durant and Paul George ran more than 200 miles last season, according to SportVU player-tracking, which is the equivalent mileage of slamming eight marathons into a roughly six-month span. Throw in the fact that NBA marathons require leaping, falling and colliding with some of the planet's most massive human beings, and you begin to realize the physical and mental toll on these athletes.

When the NBA released its gargantuan 2014-15 schedule last month, it came with the heartening revelation that the league would institute a one-week All-Star break to allow players to rest and recover. Instead of getting a weekend off, teams will receive a minimum of eight days without games, sometimes longer.

That's the good news. The bad news is the NBA will be crunching the same number of games into a shorter amount of time. You probably didn't hear that part. The dirty little secret is that the league did not extend the schedule by the corresponding number of days, so it will cram all 82 games into a tighter space.

The longer All-Star break was supposed to be an olive branch to the players. Instead, it required the NBA to add more drowsy back-to-backs to the schedule. In addition, the NBA ended up adding more miles to the already excessive travel itinerary.

Such a move might seem comparatively benign, especially in light of the Atlanta Hawks mess, but the health of the NBA depends on the health of its players. And when it comes to player health, adding more back-to-backs is the exact opposite of what a top sleep scientist recommended to Silver last season.

By failing to cut down on the number of back-to-backs, the NBA is continuing to put its players at unnecessary risk.