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Learn how to take player fatigue into account when making your NBA picks, including the best bets to make, strategies for monitoring fatigue, and more.
The most underrated factor in betting on NBA games revolves around how tired each team is for that specific game. If one team has two nights to prepare for a game, while the other team is playing on the second straight night, and has flown in late at night from another city to play that game, a significant odds advantage goes to the fresher team. In this guide we will explain how fatigue works with regards to NBA betting, which types of bets you can make to take advantage of a fatigued team, strategies for fatigue betting management, and how to research fatigue before placing a bet on a game.
One of the first things to take into consideration about basketball betting is that the NBA is a surprisingly physical sport where players can have aches and pains after every game. In the modern NBA, teams will play 82 games in under six months, meaning they are playing a game virtually every other day. For many years, NBA teams would play brutal schedules that could feature four games in five nights, or frequently five games in one week. The league has recently cracked down on back-to-backs, you will never see a team play three straight nights, and four games in five days is mostly a thing of the past. But, fatigue is still a massive factor in the NBA, and subsequently, NBA betting.
The best way to monitor fatigue is to look at a team’s recent schedule. If there is a game between a team that has played four games in the past week against a team that has played twice, the team that has played less has a massive advantage when it comes to fatigue.
A player who only plays eight minutes per night is unlikely to become fatigued, even if he has played a tough recent schedule, so when you monitor fatigue you should be focusing on starters, and players that play 25+ minutes per night. Some teams can also mitigate fatigue by having a balanced bench, where nine or ten players play regularly, while other teams are top-heavy and might only give seven players significant minutes. A team without a deep bench is definitely more susceptible to fatigue.
Some teams will try to lessen fatigue by giving their stars the night off, though the league discourages resting players who are not injured, and has been known to fine teams that rest uninjured players. But, teams can also rest players by only playing them limited minutes without the risk of a fine from the league.
Moneyline Bets: The best way to track fatigue is to make a spreadsheet of all the teams in the NBA, and then assess their records in various states of fatigue. So, if a team is 7-2 in moneyline bets on two days’ rest, but 0-5 on the second night of back-to-backs, that would be a team to avoid when they are fatigued.
Spread Bets: It’s important to know that the oddsmakers will have already factored whether a team is fatigued or not into the betting odds. A team on two days’ rest hosting a team playing back-to-back games will have a more favorable spread than if the two teams were on equal rest. The key to factoring in fatigue when making a spread bet is to determine if the oddsmakers got the spread right, or if they are underestimating how fatigued a team is.
Prop Bets: If you are going to factor in fatigue to your prop bets, the best way to do so is to crunch the numbers on how certain players perform with various amounts of rest. When you find favorable trends, ie. Player X scores 27.5 points per game with 2+ days rest versus 21.3 on zero days rest, you can make prop bets accordingly.
Over/Under Bets: Few bets are more affected by fatigue than over/under betting. If both teams are heavily fatigued, someone still has to win, but with over/under betting, having both teams being tired, will push the over/under total lower. That will be factored into the total, so you should crunch the numbers for teams over/under records when dealing with fatigue.
There are many strategies that you can try to incorporate when it comes to taking advantage of fatigue and rest management in the NBA.
One of the most important things to know when it comes to NBA betting and fatigue management is that you really need to crunch the numbers. Make a spreadsheet of every NBA team and track their record with various days of rest.
For example, your numbers might say that the Knicks are 4-9 on zero days’ rest, but 11-2 on one days’ rest. But analyzing the data might show that the Knicks might be 4-9 in the second half of back-to-backs, but they are 8-5 against the spread in those games, while their 11-2 record on one day rest is only 6-5 ATS. You should either find data or create a chart that displays all of this information, ideally going back multiple seasons.
While some teams handle fatigue better than others, another interesting strategy is to track player fatigue data. In the past, this information might be able to help you in making NBA moneyline bets or spread bets, but with the proliferation of prop betting, you can use player fatigue information to gain a real advantage in prop betting.
Look for data that shows how each player performs on various amounts of rest. If, say, James Harden increases his scoring average when he has 2+ days of rest, that is a statistic that you can use when placing a prop bet.
It is not just scoring data that you should be tracking. Many coaches will rest players, particularly veterans, in the first half of a back-to-back. While sometimes a player will simply sit out one half of a back-to-back, often coaches will limit a player’s minutes in the first game of the back-to-back, and you might want to bet on some prop bet unders for veterans, assuming your data bears out this same information.
Coaches will also be quicker to pull the trigger on benching their starters in the first half of a back-to-back, particularly if a team goes down by a large margin relatively early. So, players might not return to the game when they trail by 17 points if they have another game the next night.
NBA preseason odds are also greatly affected by fatigue management, if you are willing to put in the work and track the data, you can discern which coaches take the preseason more seriously and play their starters for more minutes.
NBA team’s schedule
If you want to incorporate fatigue information into your NBA bets, there are a number of factors to consider. You should know which teams perform better on a tough schedule. You should know which teams take advantage of playing against a more fatigued team. You should know which players perform better when they are rested and which players are less affected by fatigue.
There are teams in the NBA that are prone to throwing most of their efforts into one specific game when they are faced with games on consecutive nights. If you can determine which teams have a similar strategy and which game it is that they are planning on focusing on, there is real money to be made there.
One NBA odds complication is that if a team decides to rest a player for fatigue management, they will not necessarily report that information before the game, unlike if they were injured, so you need to tread carefully and try to ascertain who is playing before placing your bets.
If you follow each team’s beat writers on social media, you are more likely to find pregame information about which players might be sitting and you can get a general feel for how the teams are approaching a game where they are especially fatigued.
One little known aspect of NBA betting fatigue management is that the league is stricter with allowing teams to bench players on the road than they are at home. The NBA feels that it is unfair to the home team to have a visiting star player rest, when the home fans may have specifically bought tickets to see that star play. The thinking is that if you are going to rest players, it must be done at home, where fans frequently get to see your star players.
The NBA is unique when it comes to fatigue management. Football players play once a week and baseball players are expected to play every day, so the NBA has its own set of rules and traditions surrounding fatigue management. As we’ve discussed above, the most important things to know include how specific teams perform when fatigued, how individual players play when they are in the middle of a tough schedule, and how the odds are affected by teams being fatigued.
The most important thing to focus on when it comes to NBA betting with regard to fatigue is that you need to do the research. Find data or create your own records of how teams and players perform when they are either fresh or fatigued, so you can find patterns and bet accordingly. Once you’ve done that research, check out the factors affecting NBA betting odds, find a fresh underdog and get ready to place your bets.
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