Three Ways The NBA’s Earlier Start Could Impact Betting Markets

Jordan Sharp

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 3:40 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2017 3:40 PM UTC

Believe it or not, the NBA starts in less than three weeks. The preseason is literally right around the corner, which means that it’s time to start ignoring football! Well, maybe not that severe, but it is time to gear up for the NBA season. 

On distinction you might notice is the league is starting a week earlier this season. This is due to several reasons, but the main one is the NBA has changed it’s schedule around in order to lessen the burden of a long 82 game season.

NBA players have been playing 82 games in a year forever, but with an added week of rest, a couple of things have changed, and it could limit the amount of last-minute scratches and resting on big games that has plagued the NBA for years now. In turn, that will affect how we bet games and our NBA picks.

 Resting Players

We’ve all been there. It’s 30 minutes before a game tips off and you’ve locked in your bet hours earlier. Then, word comes out that a start player on your side is sitting out, and you might as well throw the ticket away before the game even starts.

The league realizes this is a problem, and while in my opinion these changes don’t go far enough, they are a start.

The biggest change is teams will no longer play four games in five nights, and 18 games in 30 days. This was actually a boon to knowledgeable NBA sharps, because fading these teams usually came away with great results.

Brad Owens, a successful DFS player wrote about this a few years ago. He more focused on individual stat decreases, but overall this can obviously have an affect on ATS results too.

However, even though teams will no longer play four games in five nights, there will still be three games in four nights, and of course, multiple back-to-backs.


The league did lessen the number of back-to-backs a team will face this season and beyond, however, the difference is almost meaningless. Teams went from an average of 16.3 games played on no rest, to 14.9 in 2017-18. Every little bit means something to the health of the players, I’m sure, but in the macro landscape, it’s not that big of a change.

Therefore, in my eyes, teams playing on no rest will still have a big impact on the NBA betting lines, especially late in the season.

Most teams play a lot of their back-to-backs early in the season, where they are less impact on the players and from a betting perspective. However, there have been several trends established over the years that you can likely still follow to make money on teams playing without a day off in between games.

On the surface last season, teams were only 248-253 ATS on the second night of a back-to-back according to Team Rankings. That’s not much of difference one way or another, but if you consider that since 2003, teams are a combined 4084-4149-101 (49.6%) ATS on no rest, you can start to see some trends being established as you dig deeper into different comparisons.

When you factor in the average age of the roster, then you start to see some more distinct lines being drawn. Last season there were 12 teams with an average roster age of 26.5 or higher, and they were a combined 99-106-3 ATS (48.3%). Still, this isn’t a great cashing or fading rate for these teams, until you start to consider teams that are historically good ATS on back-to-backs.

Since 2010, the Spurs, Warriors, Hawks and Heat all have cashing rates of 54.9% or better on no rest, which would easily be a positive return. All four of those teams had average ages of 26.5 or higher last season, and combined they went 41-26 ATS (61.2%).

You take the historically good teams away from that list of older teams playing on no rest last year, and those eight teams are now 58-80-3 ATS (42.2%).

This season 14 teams have average ages of 26.5 or higher, and once you start taking away teams like the Spurs, Warriors, and Heat, you might still be able to find success fading some of these other teams, especially later in the year when they are playing on no rest.


The biggest trend early in the season in my eyes is total betting. The first two days of the NBA have no defense, and the players are still in summer pick-up game mode, and not locked in on defense.

This has led to some higher scores early in the season. Since 2012, the over is 44-26-2 (62.5%) on the first two days of the season (which is most team’s first game of the year). Home favorites have also been good at cashing the over in their first game of the season, going 32-19-1.

Now that the schedule is starting a week earlier, I expect this trend to become more pronounced. Guys will have less time to transition from offseason workouts and practice scrimmages to regular season games. Plus, with only a few preseason games that important players actually play in, some of these guys are likely not going to be ready to lock-in defensively from game one.

Look for guys to ease themselves back into action in the first game or two, which could mean higher than average totals and game scores in the earlier part of the season.

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