Will Extra Rest Help the Cavaliers and Warriors Bounce Back?
Greg M. Cooper – USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LeBron James.
LeBron James had a 40-point triple-double in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals and the Cleveland Cavaliers still lost to the Boston Celtics. Out West, the Houston Rockets routed the Golden State Warriors, 127-105, on Wednesday to even the series at 1-1.
The second game in their respective conference finals did not go according to plan for the Cavs and Warriors. Last year’s finals participants will have four days to figure out what went wrong. Cleveland plays Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET) and Golden State Sunday (8 p.m. ET).
Will the extra days off to rest and prepare help or hurt the Cavaliers and Warriors?
Using the Bet Labs software, we found that playoff teams with four or more days between games have gone 151-144-1 (51.2%) against the spread (ATS) since 2005. That isn’t much of an edge.
But we know rest is important, especially in the playoffs after teams have already played an 82-game regular-season schedule. If this is true, which teams would benefit the most from additional days off?
There is a sharp home/road split among well-rested squads. Teams with four or more days off and play their next game at home are 95-58 (62.1%) ATS, while road teams in the same situation are 56-86-1 (39.4%) ATS.
Why do home teams benefit more from extra rest? One theory is that even with additional days off, travel can disrupt a team’s routine and there is no substitute for sleeping in your own bed.
Rested home teams have consistently exceeded the oddsmakers’ expectations in the playoffs. With home-court advantage and four or more days between games, teams have winning ATS records in 12 of the last 14 postseasons.
Both the Warriors and Cavaliers lost their respective Game 2s on the road by double digits. Teams on at least four days’ rest at home, after losing their previous game by double digits, are 22-8 ATS (73.3%) since 2005 and 15-4 ATS (78.9%) since 2010.
But aren’t the Celtics and Rockets also well-rested? Good point. Boston and Houston will have four days to rest and recover as well. Fear not, the trend still favors the home side. When both teams have four or more days to rest between games, the home team is 75-46 (62.0%) ATS.
Does this mean the Cavs (-6.5) and Warriors (-7) will cover in Game 3? No, but with home court and extra days between games, Cleveland and Golden State do have an edge.