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The Day After

   by Ben Burns - 02/17/2008

As a professional handicapper, I am constantly looking for any possible advantage or edge that I can find. Studying what has happened in the past is important, as history often repeats itself. Looking at how teams perform in "unique situations" can be informative and can also help lead to a more profitable season. One such "unique situation" comes the day after the All-Star Break.

Throughout the season, professional baseball, hockey and basketball teams will occasionally have a gap of several days in between games. However, with the exception of Opening Day/Night, the day after the All Star Break is the only time when every team comes in off an extended layoff.

With the NBA currently in the midst of its annual February festivities, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the league has fared the day after "the Break." Before starting, my original thought was to see if homecourt advantage meant more or less than it usually does. However, as I was beginning, I remembered that the "under" has been particularly profitable the day after the MLB Break this millennium. Therefore, I also decided to check whether recent games after the break were higher or lower-scoring than normal.

Looking back to the day after (02/20/07) last year's NBA All Star Break, I discovered that home teams went a profitable 8-2 SU/ATS against the closing number. Most were favored, so it's no surprise that favorites were also a healthy 7-3 against the number, winning nine of 10 games outright. The games averaged a fairly high 197.8 points but six of 10 still managed to stay beneath the number.

The day after the All Star Break was even more profitable for "under" bettors in 2006. Indeed, the dozen games on 02/21/06 averaged only 181 combined points with 10 of them staying beneath the number. Home teams won 10 of 12 games, while going 7-4-1 ATS.

That means that home teams have gone 15-6-1 ATS (71.4%) in the NBA the day after the Break the past two seasons. The 22 games have averaged 188.6 points with the "under" going a profitable 16-6 or 73%.

Armed with this knowledge, should we blindly bet on all the home teams and/or "unders" on Tuesday? Of course not. Games always need to be looked at on an individual basis. Plus, 22 games over two years is a relatively small sample size. Let's look back further.

Three years ago, on 02/22/05, only three of the eight games stayed below the number with the games averaging 196 points. Additionally, home teams won just three of eight while going a money-burning 2-6 against the number. However, life was much better for the home fans the day after the All Star Break (02/17/04) the previous season. Home teams went 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS that day with the "over" checking in at 7-4. Those games averaged 192 points.

With almost double our previous sample size, we now find that home teams have gone a combined 26-14-1 ATS (65%) the day after the All Star Break the past four years. Twenty-three of the 41 games (56%) stayed below the closing total, averaging exactly 191 points each.

The NBA resumes with 10 games this Tuesday and I've already got my eye on a couple of home teams which set up nicely for possible plays. Good luck in the second half!

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