For years, the joke has been whenever a team struggled in Los Angeles on a back to back, or on a weekend day, that once again, “LA nightlife is undefeated.” It’s a hilarious premise that taps into the common joke about players partying in certain cities, particularly Los Angeles. The best example?
After the Warriors trounced the Oklahoma City Thunder last season in November, Golden State had a back-to-back the next night vs. the Lakers. Music star and Raptors Brand Ambassador Drake accompanied them on the plane. The next night, a lethargic Warriors squad lost to the Lakeshow, 117-97.
Lakers fans balk at the idea, and it’s understandable. Since the Dwight-Kobe-Gasol-Nash team mercifully self-destructed, the Lakers are 147-300. So when they actually play well? The fans want to feel like they actually played well! Especially earlier this season when it seemed like the Lakers might actually be competitive. (Spoiler: They are not.)
But is there something to it?
Using BetLabs, I took a look at some numbers, focusing especially on Sunday games vs. teams with at least one night off in Los Angeles. An NBA team will always fly to the new city at least a day in advance, so even if they take an evening flight, the players have a solid four to six hours to enjoy the city before needing to get back to the hotel.
Now, against the spread, there’s nothing there: Since 2005 on a Sunday vs. teams with at least one day off, the Lakers are 68-62-4 for a 52.3% ATS win percentage and just a +1.8% return on investment. No big win there.
Taking the moneyline, however, is a much more interesting proposition. Since 2005:
|All teams at home on Sunday vs. a team with two days off||58%||-1.4%|
|All teams at home||59.4%||-3.4%|
|The Lakers at home overall||58.6%||0.1%|
|The Lakers at home on Sunday vs. a team with two days off||59%||18.3%|
And, since the Lakers became absolute garbage in 2012-13:
|All teams at home on Sunday vs. a team with two days off||58%||2.7%|
|All teams at home||58.7%||-2.5%|
|The Lakers at home overall||40.2%||3.2%|
|The Lakers at home on Sunday vs. a team with two days off||46%||52.1%|
Does that seem bonkers, that the Lakers can win 46 percent of those games and have a 52.1% return on investment? Well, see, in 2016, when the Warriors won 73 games?
This happened: Warriors 95, Lakers 112. According to BetLabs, the Lakers were +2352 on the moneyline in that game. That accounts for a huge chunk of the money you would have earned betting that occurrence by occurrence. So, huge caveat there.
But, just for argument’s sake, I looked at the ROI without that Warriors game: The Lakers still won 46 percent of their games with a 10% return on investment on Sundays vs. teams with at least one day off in the city.
The Lakers play the Hawks on Sunday, in this exact situation. So, clearly, with the mystique of LA nightlife, this is clearly a great bet to make, right? I asked Sports Insights NBA expert Carl Sack whether this whole thing made sense. His response?
“I run the same query for ATS results and almost all the profit goes away, and if I run it for LAC instead of LAL most of the profit goes away. I also have another database where I can go back to 1996 and the data just regresses to the mean. It doesn’t seem to work for other “party” cities like NYC or Miami… Seems like a logical thing to write an article about… fun.”
“If you’re asking me if I would factor it in to handicapping a game, I wouldn’t.”
And yet, as we all know: LA nightlife is, and always will be, undefeated.