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Front End of Back-to-Backs

   by Ben Burns - 02/25/2008

I recently took a look at how teams in the NBA had been faring when playing the second of back to back games. That's a common "situation" that most handicappers pay varying degrees of attention to. Playing the front end of back to back games is an equally common situation but one that is often ignored.
It makes sense that teams would occasionally suffer when playing the second of back to back games, particularly if the initial game was especially emotional and/or physical. Is there any reason for a team to perform differently when playing the first of back to games though? Much of that probably depends on who the following night's opponent will be. For example, there's typically no real reason to "look ahead" to a game vs. the likes of the Grizzlies or Sonics but there may be reason to look ahead to a game vs. the likes of the Spurs or the Pistons. Curious to know if there were any league-wide tendencies and/or if any teams were particularly good or bad prior to playing a game the following day, I decided to do some research. Not surprisingly, the Celtics were the best team when playing the front-end of back to back games while the T-Wolves were the worst.
Interestingly, one team that appears to have some "looking ahead issues" is the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers have been terrific when playing the second of back to back games recently, going 10-1 SU/ATS their last 11 in that situation. Conversely, they're a terrible 0-10 SU and 1-9 ATS the last 10 times that they played the first of back to back games.
The following chart shows how each team has done when playing the front end of back to back games. Stats include games from Feb. 24.
Team
SU Record
ATS Record
Atlanta
4-10
5-9
Boston
11-2
11-2
Charlotte
5-9
6-8
Chicago
6-8
7-7
Cleveland
6-7
5-8
Dallas
7-6
4-9
Denver
7-7
5-9
Detroit
9-5
7-7
Golden State
8-5
7-6
Houston
7-6
7-6
Indiana
4-13
5-12
LA Clippers
4-8
4-8
LA Lakers
9-3
8-4
Memphis
4-10
8-6
Miami
2-12
4-10
Milwaukee
5-10
7-7-1
Minnesota
1-11
3-9
New Jersey
7-7
5-9
New Orleans
8-3
7-4
New York
3-10
7-6
Orlando
11-3
10-4
Philadelphia
4-12
5-11
Phoenix
10-1
6-5
Portland
8-5
8-5
Sacramento
7-6
10-3
San Antonio
6-5
4-7
Seattle
2-8
4-6


Toronto
8-6
9-5


Utah
7-8
5-10
Washington
5-9
10-4
Total
185-215
193-206-1


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