It’s not particularly common in the NBA, but teams will occasionally be subjected to the grueling challenge of playing three games on three consecutive nights. It’s an incredibly tough challenge for NBA players – especially because at least one of the games – and often more – is typically played on the road. If you were to ask a group of casual NBA bettors how teams would perform in the third of these games I suspect most would guess that the teams would struggle badly in these situations. That seems like a logical conclusion, but the problem is that it isn’t always true. For example, in the first half of the 2011-12 season – the season is which every pro basketball team played a three-in-three streak due to the strike-shortened schedule – you would have actually made a small profit by betting on each team playing for the third time in three nights because a small majority of them covered the spread.
When a situation doesn’t necessarily turn out like the betting public might logically assume it would then there could be an opportunity for profit if you can do a better job of assessing what is likely to happen. Here are seven factors to consider for sports handicapping a NBA team and considering how they will respond in their third game in three days:
What was their schedule leading into this stretch? – Playing three nights in a row is going to be tough no matter what. It will be even tougher, though, when the team goes into the games feeling run down and tired before they even start. Have they been playing hard before, or have the had some rest before this test? Have they been traveling, or have they been playing at home and sleeping in their own beds?
How healthy are they? – Another way to ask this question would be: how deep are they? However you want to look at it, the same thing matters – NBA teams are going to need to go deep onto their bench in this stretch of games to survive. There is no way that the top players can effectively carry all the weight three games in a row without showing some strain. If a team is deep and talented then they could be able to handle the issue. If they have depth or injury issues, though, then there could be big problems for the team here. Carefully consider this issue as it will help you make winning NBA picks.
Who did they play? – When looking at the third game it is important to consider what happened in the first two games of the series. If one or both of those two opponents was particularly physical or aggressive then the team could be worn down by the time their third game starts. On the other hand, if the games have been played at a slow tempo, or if the team opened a big lead and was able to rest starters later on in the game, then the impact of playing so much might not be that significant and thus not affect your pick. Teams also could be fresher if they have played two relatively similar NBA teams in a row. If they have been forced to make big adjustments for each game, though, then they could be mentally tired heading into this game and unable to be as sharp as they need to be.
What was the travel like? – A team would never play three in a row on their home court, so there is going to be some travel involved. How far was it? Did they travel through the night? That can disrupt routines and limit sleep. Have they had to deal with hostile crowds or apathetic ones? Are they playing in familiar arenas they play in often, or on courts they are less comfortable on?
How do they do in back to back games? – One of the best indicators of how a professional basketball team will do in this situation is to look at how they do in back-to-back games – something they will face several times each season. If they are not particularly effective in the second game in a row the it would be hard to be optimistic about the third game. If the second game hasn’t challenged their effectiveness or ability to cover NBA sports spreads, though, then the third game may not, either.
What is the opponent dealing with? – It could be harder for a team to play well against an opponent when they are tired and lacking intensity if the opponent is fresh and well rested. It’s important, then, to consider what the opponent has been facing heading into this game. If the opponent has been playing a busy schedule against tough teams recently then they may not have much of an advantage over their opponent – even though the opponent is tired.
How does the public view them? – Public perception can affect your ability to make a winning NBA pick. If the public is particularly optimistic about a NBA team and inclined to bet on them in most circumstances then they likely won’t be turned off to a significant extent by the hectic schedule. On the other hand, if it is a team that the public doesn’t really like in the best of cases then they really aren’t going to like them here. Understanding what the public is likely to think can help you determine how the odds are likely to be set, how the line will move, and what impact that will have on the value that is to be found in the game.