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NBA Travel: Study Your Schedules
by Bryan Leonard - 12/25/2006
Did you notice that last week the Golden State Warriors went on a nice run last week, going 3-1 SU/ATS? Look a little closer: All three wins were at home, the one loss was on the road. In the lone loss (on the road) they allowed 117 points, the most they gave up during that streak.
I bring up the Warriors to talk about scheduling, which is a key factor to examine each day in handicapping. Teams generally play much better at home than on the road in basketball (with the exception of the NY Knicks, who are 4-10 SU, 4-9-1 ATS on the road. It's almost as if they are relieved to get away from Madison Square Garden boos!)
Now take a look at how the Warriors are doing this week: 2 straight losses following that 3-1 SU/ATS run. Why? Certainly scheduling is playing a part again, as both those games were on the road. Even more significant is that the Warriors are starting a 7-game road trip this week and next. It's essential to examine day to day play by teams, but when it comes to scheduling you need to keep home stands and long road trips into account. Taking that even a step further, notice that Golden State started 11-5 SU/ATS at home, and 1-8 SU/4-5 ATS on the road.
Both college and pro teams often can perform radically different when they're in front of their hometown fans, or own the road. Another area tied into this is the days of the week. That is, good handicappers keep careful track of how many games a particular team is playing over the course of each week. Sometimes a team can be on a four game road trip, for example. But if those four games are spread out over ten days, that can be far less a disadvantage than if a team is on a three-game road trip over four days.
Back to back spots are also important to keep track of. This doesn't happen much in college basketball, but it does happen all the time in the NBA. If the Knicks are playing at home on Tuesday, for instance, then on Wednesday they are playing at Denver, so there is a lot more taking place here for sports bettors than just a simple back to back spot. In addition to Golden State, the Jazz and Wizards are on long road trips this week.
It means the Knicks are in a back to back spot, and traveling on the road for that second game, which is often more grueling on teams than if they're coming home. You must factor in what these players are going through: Playing a night game on Tuesday, then heading to the airport, maybe getting little sleep as they fly 2,500 miles to Denver, crossing time zones, and then facing the Nuggets the very next night. The air in Denver is thinner than in New York, so Denver might have another edge, especially if they are rested. All these things must be taken into account when attempting to grind out a profit over the course of a basketball season.