Think of how you are when you don’t get enough sleep. There isn’t enough coffee in the world to get you through the day. Now imagine you’re an NBA player. Once you get past the nice cars, big houses and million-dollar sneaker deals, think about having to get back on the court after not only a loss but after playing three games in a row out of town. It’s not a good look.
Toronto is known as “White Vegas” in NBA circles because of its fun party environment. This can cause teams to play worse when they visit Canada’s version of Sin City, leaving the Raptors no choice but to destroy their opponents on the court … sometimes.
The ability to handicap fatigue level for both teams and players in the NBA could be the difference between you winning and losing money on your basketball bets. There are times during the season when teams play three games in four nights – and in some cases, four games in five nights – making the amount of energy they have left in the tank critical in determining whether a team covers the spread or implodes.
Handicap NBA Schedules Closely
It’s important to handicap each NBA team’s schedule and look for spots where they might be tired. If you see a team at the tail end of a four-games-in-five-nights stretch, they could very well become fade material – when you bet against them. You should also look out for teams that are well-rested. A team that has a chance to recoup after a road trip and play their next few games at home is a favorite to consider betting on.
Keep in mind that it’s not just physical fatigue that matters, but also mental fatigue. For example, heading into a four-game road trip, a team might have a simple goal of earning a split. If that team has overperformed like a B-list celebrity singing the national anthem at the all-star game, and goes into the finale at 2-1 straight-up through the first three, they could be ripe for a letdown spot in the last game of the swing.
It’s rare for a team to play well in every game of a road trip during a difficult stretch. NBA players are professionals making tons of money, but they’re people too. They can’t play their best all the time, no matter how much you yell at them on Twitter. Even star players like Bill Russell – ask your dad – had to pace themselves for a grueling season. The winning team against the spread will be the one that best manages player minutes and adjusts their strategy according to their opponent.
Good Basketball Teams Succumb To Fatigue Too
Good teams can also disappoint and fail to cover the spread due to the rigors of the regular season. A strong team like the Milwaukee Bucks or Los Angeles Lakers – with LeBron – could head into a game at the end of a long road trip as a huge favorite according to the NBA odds and only do just enough to win the game outright, but fail to cover the spread.
Keep in mind that oddsmakers factor in travel schedules when setting the point spread. You shouldn’t automatically bet against a team because they’re in the middle of a long road trip. Teams with better coaching staffs are more equipped to plan for fatigue situations by managing player minutes and rotations. By learning how to handicap these potential NBA fatigue situations like a good coach does, you can avoid the common pitfalls that could damage your bankroll.