NBA Handicapping: Revenge Big on Back-to-Back Games
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 01/14/2009
When NBA teams face each other in consecutive games, the key to the next go-round may not be what team makes the better coaching adjustments or how the losing team is able to bounce back. It might just come down to how many days off the teams get between meetings.
In the NBA so far this season there have been 13 occasions where teams face each other in consecutive games. The team that wins the first game has gone 7-6 against the spread in the following game and 8-5 straight up. However just looking at the results of the games does not tell the whole story.
Out of the 13 "rematch" games this season in the NBA, six have been played on back-to-back days with the other seven games being played with at least one day off in between. When the games occur on back-to-back nights the team that failed to cover the spread in the first meeting has gone 5-1 ATS in the second meeting and of those five, three have come back to win straight up.
The team that wins the first meeting has fared better when there is at least one day of rest between the games. In those situations the winning team has gone 6-1 ATS in the second meeting and 5-2 SU.
The motive of revenge is always a big determining factor in rematch games regardless of the league. The quicker the rematch the less time the losing team has to forget about the previous loss.
While it's nothing like Major League Baseball with teams always playing opponents on consecutive nights, the NBA still provides plenty of opportunities for these back-to-back situations. All the NBA back-to-back games are home-and-home scenarios where each team gets a home game although the trends are not skewed by a team simply improving by returning home.
Just this past week Boston went on the road at a red hot Toronto team that had not lost in the calendar year yet. The Celtics were five-point favorites despite going through quite a slump for the defending champion's standards.
On Sunday the Celtics dominated most of the game and withheld a late Raptor rally to win, 94-88, and cover the point spread. The very next night on Monday the Celtics returned home and were pegged as 10-point favorites. This time the Raptors led nearly the entire game before a fourth quarter rally put the Celtics up. Toronto forced overtime and lost, 115-109, easily covering the spread.
Often times oddsmakers overcompensate and bettors overreact to what happens in the first meeting. This usually creates at least a one or two point value that a bettor can gain by backing the team that lost the first meeting when the games fall on consecutive days.