Today I want to share with you the curious findings of my research in the NBA that I’ve tirelessly researched over the last week on NBA Over & Under the Total trends toward the end of the season.
As you know, I’m a master pattern recognizer who excels at spotting patterns that may form in sports. Recently, I noticed a possible forming pattern in the NBA where teams that play back-to-back games in certain scenarios tend to go Under the total at the end of the season when they are tired.
So for the last week, I’ve been digging deep into the stat sheets to discover whether there is merit to this strategy. And today, I’m going to share my findings with you.
Here’s the NBA angle I researched:
- The game must be played on February 1st or after. Reasoning: February is considered a month toward the end of the season where teams tend to start showing fatigue. This affects how many points are scored in the game.
- The team must be playing back-to-back games. This means they must play 2 consecutive games without a rest day. Reasoning: At a time near the end of the season when teams are already tired, the fatigue effect is magnified further when a team is forced to play two consecutive games in a row without any day of rest. This can affect how many points are scored in the 2nd game.
Given the above scenario, I conducted meticulous research on past NBA games to finally answer the question: “When an NBA team is forced to play back-to-back games near the end of the season (February or later), then is it wise to bet on the Over or on the Under the Total in the 2nd game when teams are typically tired?”
The hypothesis is that when teams are tired, they tend to slow the pace of the game down and score less points. Therefore, the smart bet to take is assumed to be on the Under the Total. Let’s see if this hypothesis holds true. Here is the Over/Under the Total record for the last 3 years of NBA (since the 2016 NBA season) on the 2nd game of a back-to-back series starting in February or later:
181 Overs – 191 Unders
While there were more Unders (51.34%) than Overs (48.66%), the gap here is not statistically significant enough to conclude a real betting advantage. If you’re not familiar, the magic win rate number to hit is 52.4% in order to break even when betting on sports, assuming that the odds on your wagers are all -110. Basically, you’ll need to win more than 52.4% to be profitable when betting on sports.
Therefore, our hypothesis needed further scrutiny. Next, I wanted to see what happens if the back-to-back series was played in the order of Home-Home, Home-Road, Road-Home, and Road-Road. In other words: After all, fatigue issues can be affected when teams play two home games in a row as opposed to two road games in a row, right?
Below are the results of my findings. The records below are written in Over-Under format. For example, Home-Home: 12-14 means that when a team plays two back-to-back home games, the 2nd game goes Over 12 times and Under 14 times:
Nothing here truly stands out very strongly except for possibly the Home-Road combination where the 2nd game of the back-to-back went Under 55.66% of the time. The issue with this approach is that if it is indeed true that traveling on the road magnifies existing fatigue problems, then why is it that the Road-Road combination actually yielded more Overs (79) than Unders (71)?
So I dug deeper. What happens if the team lost the previous game, or won the previous game? Would their victory or loss have a statistically significant effect on their motivation level to play fast-paced or slow-paced in the 2nd game of the back-to-back series? Here are the results, again written in the Over-Under format:
If the team lost the previous game: 96-92
If team won the previous game: 85-99
The results indicate that teams tend to slow down their pace more often after they’ve won the previous game than if they had lost. In these cases, teams would go Under 53.8% of the time on the 2nd game of the back-to-back.
I continued to dig deeper. What if the team went Over in the 1st game? What if they went Under? How did that affect their scoring in the 2nd game? Here are the results, again in the Over/Under format:
If the team went Over in the 1st game of the back-to-back: 79-93
If the team went Under in the 1st game of the back-to-back: 101-97
This one seems the most promising yet. My findings show that over the last 3 years, when NBA teams play back-to-back games (2 consecutive games without a day of rest) after February, they’ve gone Under the total 54.07% of the time in the 2nd game IF they had gone Over in the 1st game.
The reasoning here seems to be that going Over the total in the 1st game further amplifies a team’s fatigue issues late in the season. The reasoning might be a combination of the following 3 factors:
- NBA Teams are tired starting February when the season is nearing its end.
- An NBA team becomes further fatigued when they are forced to play back-to-back games this late in the season at a time when they are already tired.
- If an NBA team played fast paced resulting in an Over the Total in the 1st game of a back-to-back series, then they may become even more fatigued in the 2nd game, thus resulting in an abnormally high amount of Unders in the 2nd game.
At a record of 93-79 over the last 3 years, I believe it looks promising, but I’m still far from making any conclusions. It is worth looking into, and I will continue to dig deeper by back-testing this angle far beyond just the last 3 years to see how it continues to hold up.
I’ll let you know about my findings soon once I have all the data ready. I am not ready to jump to any conclusion until I see that the results hold up for not just the last 3 years, but for at least 10 years.
For now, the hypothesis based on the last 3 years of NBA research is that: The smart value bet to take is on the Under the Total in the 2nd game of a back-to-back series starting in February for NBA teams.
Click here to see part of my research: Part 2: Do NBA Teams Tend To Go Over Or Under At End Of Season?
Click here to see part of my research: Part 3: Do NBA Teams Tend To Go Over Or Under At End Of Season?
Click here to see part of my research: Part 4: Do NBA Teams Tend To Go Over Or Under At End Of Season?
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