Can Bettors Profit From NBA Schedule Alerts?
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Every season NBA teams are forced to play games at a disadvantage not caused by opponents, but rather the schedule. These “scheduling losses” are created by a combination of back-to-backs, lengthy road trips, travel that requires crossing multiple time zones, facing a well-rested opponent or a combination of all the above.
Last summer, ESPN created a “schedule alert” formula to identify games where one team was at a competitive disadvantage due to the schedule. The model went 29-13 (69.0%) in all games and 13-4 (76.5%) in “red alert” contests, the most extreme scheduling handicaps.
These are promising results, which got us thinking: Can bettors profit from NBA schedule alerts?
This season, ESPN has been releasing a list of “schedule alert” games by month and here are the teams facing a disadvantage in February. By compiling each game from this season and the seven that were made available to the public in 2016-17, we get a 41-game sample.
Cross-referencing this data set with the Bet Labs database we find that schedule alerts went 31-10 (75.6%) straight-up and 23-18 (56.1%) ATS. Now pay attention, this is the part you’ll want to remember. Not all schedule alerts are created equally as the most common game receives a score of 8. If we focus on the teams facing the most extreme scheduling disadvantages (score of 8.5 or higher) the against the spread record improves to 15-6 (71.4%).
I know what you’re thinking, easy money. Right? Maybe not.
This is a small sample and though a +70% win rate against the spread makes us all want to run to the betting window, a seasoned gambler will exercise restraint until we have a longer track record of success.
Furthermore, ESPN acknowledges this season’s straight-up record of 26-6 (81.3%) exceeds the model’s projection of 63.0% based on 10 years of data. This means we could see some regression over the remainder of the season.
That being said, Friday night Portland heads to Sacramento for the late game on the NBA slate. The Blazers will be on a back-to-back and be playing a fifth game in eight days. The Kings, meanwhile, will be well-rested having not played since Monday. This game receives a schedule alert score of 8.5. You shouldn’t fade the Blazers just because of the schedule alert but it is a valuable piece of information to consider when handicapping this contest.
Photo via Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports