Back-to-backs: the myth vs. the numbers...

81289_bucks_nuggets_basketball_medium_mediumThe Nuggets have been nothing short of dominant at home against opponents playing the second of a back-to-back.  After looking at the numbers, their embarrassing loss to the Bucks on Saturday night appears to be more of an anomaly than cause for alarm.

Of the Nuggets 36 home dates thus far, almost half (16 to be exact) have been against opponents coming in on the second of a back-to-back.  In those 16 games the Nuggets are 14-2, and prior to losing to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night the Nuggets were undefeated at home against teams playing the second of a back-to-back coming in from the Pacific Time Zone.  Throw in the fact that the Bucks had played a double overtime game against a scrappy Sacramento Kings team the night before, and the shock of losing this game (and the bet I made on the Nuggets to cover the spread while in Las Vegas) still lingers today.

The Bucks game remains an anomaly, however, as if you needed that 14-2 record to prove so (the Nuggets other home loss to a team playing the second of a back-to-back was to the Mavericks in late December who had flown in from Memphis, and thus gained an hour).  

I suppose it was fitting that the Milwaukee game was even close to begin with, because I wasn't there.  You see, of the 10 games I've attended at Pepsi Center this season when the opponent happened to be playing the second of a back-to-back, the Nuggets average margin of victory is 21.9.  On my "watch" at Pepsi Center this season, I've seen the Nuggets wax the B2B playing Lakers by 26, the Thunder by nine (and it was never close) and then 29 a few months later, the Rockets by 10 and the Mavericks by 36 among other Nugget victories at the expense of an overly tired and weary opponent.  And I'm sure the loyal readers of this site - especially after witnessing that horrid Nuggets loss on Saturday - are sick of me railing against these "unfair fights" when the opponent comes in at 3am only to be slaughtered by the Nuggets.  But with the Bucks game put to the side momentarily, is there any other way to look at it?

Wondering if there was any validity to my argument to scrap back-to-backs altogether, or if it's just coincidence that the games I've attended have been walkover snoozers, Denver Stiffs' official statistician Chris Chan has run some B2B numbers for us on seasons past and games played through early March of this season.  

According to Chris, of the 228 blowout games played in the NBA through mid-March (blowouts are defined as 10-points or higher margin of victory), 46% - almost half - were played with one team being on the second of a B2B.  And of the 377 B2B games played, 27.9% of them were blowouts compared to just 12.8% of non-B2B games ending in blowouts.  In other words, a disproportionate number of blowouts actually do happen when a team is playing a B2B.  This surprises no one who follows the NBA, but simply highlights the need to eliminate B2Bs - or, at the very least, reduce them and implement schedule balancing - as it's the ticket-paying fans who really get screwed here.  

Courtesy of Mr. Chan, here is some data on B2B blowouts throughout the entire NBA from the past few seasons...

2009-10 SEASON

 

Total Blowouts that were B2Bs: 105

 

Total Blowouts this season (greater than 10 points): 228

 

B2B Blowout Percentage: 46.0526315789474

 

Total Games: 961

 

Total B2B Games: 377

 

Blowout Games as a Percentage of B2B Games: 27.8514588859416

 

Blowout Percentage in non B2B Games: 12.7991675338189

 

2008-09 SEASON

 

Total Blowouts that were B2Bs: 194

 

Total Blowouts this season (greater than 10 points): 508

 

B2B Blowout Percentage: 38.1889763779528

 

Total Games: 1231

 

Total B2B Games: 471

 

Blowout Games as a Percentage of B2B Games: 41.1889596602972

 

Blowout Percentage in non B2B Games: 25.5077173030057

 

2007-08 SEASON

Total Blowouts that were B2Bs: 230

Total Blowouts this season (greater than 10 points): 570

B2B Blowout Percentage: 40.3508771929825

Total Games: 1230

Total B2B Games: 483

Blowout Games as a Percentage of B2B Games: 47.6190476190476

Blowout Percentage in non B2B Games: 27.6422764227642

2006-07 SEASON

Total Blowouts that were B2Bs: 204

Total Blowouts this season (greater than 10 points): 502

B2B Blowout Percentage: 40.6374501992032

Total Games: 1212

Total B2B Games: 469

Blowout Games as a Percentage of B2B Games: 43.4968017057569

Blowout Percentage in non B2B Games: 24.5874587458746

2005-06 SEASON

Total Blowouts that were B2Bs: 195

Total Blowouts this season (greater than 10 points): 494

B2B Blowout Percentage: 39.4736842105263

Total Games: 1230

Total B2b Games: 474

Blowout Games as a Percentage of B2B Games: 41.1392405063291

Blowout Percentage in non B2B Games: 24.3089430894309

 

In regards to the Nuggets dominance at Pepsi Center against teams playing the second of a B2B, here are those numbers (also provided by Mr. Chan).  As you'll see in the data below, the Nuggets have been nothing short of dominant since the 2007-08 season against teams coming into Denver on a B2B.  Please note that this data assumes the Nuggets aren't playing the second of a B2B and have had at least one day of rest prior to the game. 

2009-10 SEASON

Road Team Playing B2B Wins: 2 out of 14

Road Team B2B Win Percentage: 14.2857142857143

Total MOV: -195

Avg MOV: -13.9285714285714

2008-09 SEASON

Road Team Playing B2B Wins: 1 out of 13

Road Team B2B Win Percentage: 7.69230769230769

Total MOV: -147

Avg MOV: -11.3076923076923

2007-08 SEASON

Road Team Playing B2B Wins: 2 out of 14

Road Team B2B Win Percentage: 14.2857142857143

Total MOV: -158

Avg MOV: -11.2857142857143

2006-07 SEASON

Road Team Playing B2B Wins: 5 out of 13

Road Team B2B Win Percentage: 38.4615384615385

Total MOV: -80

Avg MOV: -6.15384615384615

2005-06 SEASON

Road Team Playing B2B Wins: 2 out of 9

Road Team B2B Win Percentage: 22.2222222222222

Total MOV: -55

Avg MOV: -6.11111111111111

So to reiterate my points mentioned above.  The Nuggets loss to the Bucks on Saturday was the rarest of rare defeats and the fans continue to get screwed with boring games when the opposition comes in to Pepsi Center on the second of a B2B.  But hey, at least those games translate into Nugget wins.  At least 87.5% of the time.

 

Photo courtesy of AP: David Zalubowski 

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Denver Stiffs

You must be a member of Denver Stiffs to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Denver Stiffs. You should read them.

Join Denver Stiffs

You must be a member of Denver Stiffs to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Denver Stiffs. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker