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Be Weary of Tired Old NBA Adages
Joe Duffy (
Oh true we have had more than our share of success with computer generated time-tested and statistically significantly systems, which have proven to be their absolute best in the NBA. Also the NBA is second to college hoops when it comes to our “sharps versus squares” games. That means most of the sharp money is going one way and most of the sucker money the other way according to our offshore, Vegas and “outlaw” contacts. We go with the sharp money.
But there is no substitute for great analytical handicapping in any sport including the NBA. There are some very common dynamics that apply often and mastering the conceptions and misconceptions is imperative.
Very high on that list is the NBA scheduling dynamics.
I know of some guys who almost religiously bet with a more rested team. This is especially so if one team is playing their third game in four nights, fourth in five or fifth in seven and the other team (generally the home team) is rested.
Or at the very least if they don’t religiously bet it, the only alternative is to pass. They would never bet on the presumed more weary team. Let us leave no doubt that scheduling intricacies is imperative in handicapping, but sometimes the above philosophy is true, but often it is not.
First of all, it overlooks one of our Golden Rules of Handicapping: always realize the oddsmakers are one step ahead of you. The line absolutely takes into account such factors, so you are not getting the same price as if both teams were equally rested.
When a team is in the middle of a cluster of games, we weigh how they had done in their previous three games much more heavily than other circumstances. Momentum and adrenalin are the best cures for exhausted bodies. If a team is playing their fifth game in seven nights but won their previous two, three or more games a short vacation is the last thing they need.
Being “in the zone” more than nullifies any supposed rest disadvantage. Make no mistake about it, we still must take into account minutes played in recent games by the star players, depth, whether games went down to the wire on in overtime, but overrating scheduling ins and outs is one of the many mistakes a square player makes time and time again.
Conversely common notion is that rest can only be good. We find very often hot teams can loose their edge with three days off. We can’t dispute the common belief that being road weary and playing poorly is a bad combo, but being well rested while playing well can be.
In short, we have found the accurate dogma is that rest is best for teams that clearly need it. So a team playing inadequately can make adjustments. A respite in the schedule can be counterproductive for teams that are in a groove.
We put some stock in the “look ahead” theories but for the most part limit it to big favorites playing a very tough opponent the following night or about to enter a difficult stretch.
Remember when mommy told you, things are not as always what they seem. One must scratch the surface and evaluate all factors in their entirety. Those who do can, dare we say, rest easy this NBA season.
Duffy’s plays are part of the Dream Team at He is perhaps the most published and respected author on sports gambling theory and has been featured as a regular guest as the handicapping expert on the Rick Ballou Show on Sporting News Radio. His Wise Guy Plays available exclusively at are widely respected as the biggest play in the handicapping abyss.
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