Tony Salinas: NBA Back-to-Back's
The Los Angeles Clippers host the Memphis Grizzlies Thursday Night on TNT, less than 24 hours afterp laying a very physical, emotional game with the Los Angeles Lakers that you may have watched on the NBA Network. Should you automatically bet against the Clippers because it's night two of a back-to-back? How important are back-to-backs in this year's condensed schedule that has everyone playing with "tired legs" all the time?
You longtime readers know I pay a lot of attention to this. I've written often about handicapping "fresh legs," or "tired legs" in college basketball conference tournaments and the Big Dance. In the NBA, professionals generally know how to deal with back-to-back spots...so I probably place less weight on this than other handicappers. But, THIS YEAR, I do believe it's important that you monitor the schedule sequences very closely.
Here are the guidelines I've been using when handicapping teams in back-to-back spots:
I adjust my Power Ratings 1-2 points against teams who are playing on their second straight night if their opponent didn't play the night before. This is about what oddsmakers are doing to...so this act by itself doesn't spit out many plays. But, it keeps me from imagining line value when it isn't there in the other direction. Sometimes oddsmakers over-react to the back-to-backs and we can step in and take advantage. This year, I don't think they're doing that. I don't want to take the worst of it. Be sure you're making adjustments.
I adjust my Power Ratings even MORE than 1-2 points if a team is shorthanded with injuries. The fatigue spots really hit teams who are already shorthanded, or have reduced the minutes of their starters because those guys are banged up.
I adjust my Power Ratings even more if the team just had a string of back-to-backs. Sometimes it's not just two games in two nights, it's four games in five nights. Sometimes it's five games in seven nights. And, I haven't even talked about the "three-in-a-row" spots that every team has to deal with at least once this year.
On the other hand, I'll adjust the ratings BACK to where they were if the team has avoided injuries or has a lot of depth. Philadelphia is a team that just hasn't played tired basketball this year. There's no reason to assume they're going to be tired until it starts happening (which may be hitting this week since they just lost to New Jersey!). I think oddsmakers have been wrong to use "blanket" rules with fatigue. Some teams are so deep they don't get tired legs.
You regulars know I prefer playing UNDERDOGS because of line value as a general rule. So, I'm using these guidelines to find tired favorites to fade...and therefore fresh underdogs to back. I like fresh legs over tired legs...but I REALLY LIKE fresh dogs over tired favorites.
How do I keep track of which teams are fresh and which are tired? That's very easy. If you have a handy Vegas rotation schedule, you can make marks right on the pages. You should really sit down and do this when you first get your schedule. Map out the whole month so you don't have to rush through it at the last second. There's nothing dumber than placing a big bet on a team who's tired just because you forgot they played the night before! That doesn't happen to me...but I've seen it happen to too many people this year. The schedule all runs together, and they forget what just happened.
If you don't have a rotation schedule, go to the league's website and print out a schedule. Whatever. YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHO'S TIRED! Don't make any excuses.
There are only two games tonight, and the Clippers are the only team in a back-to-back. But, Boston and Orlando (in the first game of TNT's doubleheader) both play again Friday Night. Almost everyone on the upcoming Saturday Night schedule will be in a back-to-back off a Friday game. Map out the weekend now if you haven't already done so. I can't emphasize enough how important it is this year to know who's tired and who's injured on a nightly basis in the NBA.
If you'd like some help finding the best pro and college games on the board, you can sign up for my personal service here at the website. Try out some game day releases with your credit card. Or, take advantage of discounted seasonal rates. If you have any questions, all my office at 1-888-536-8880. Sign up for any basketball package and I'll include next Sunday's Super Bowl in your program.
The current NBA schedule is challenging. But, you CAN find an edge if you do the handicapping work. Make sure you're GETTING THE BEST OF IT when battling the Vegas oddsmakers with TONY SALINAS!
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