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Just The Sports: Back-to-Back Games

Just The Sports

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Back-to-Back Games

When a season lasts as long as eighty-two games like the NBA season does, the motivation needed to treat every game like your last proves too difficult to maintain for most players and teams. Nowhere is that more apparent than when an NBA franchise is required by the schedule makers to play back-to-back games. Then the teams are presented with a dilemma on par to the ones given to superheroes at least once, but instead of having to choose between saving the life of a loved one or the lives of complete strangers, they have to choose whether to play hard during the first game of the back-to-back or the second one.

The majority of NBA teams this year, nineteen to be exact, have chosen to put together their better performances in the first games due to having a higher efficiency margin (offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency) in those contests. This phenomenon is somewhat expected due to the fact that one would make the supposition that a team would be fresher during the first game and then watch their ability decline during the second game when fatigue sets in, but eleven teams prove that is not always the case.

To fully illustrate the difficulty of playing well on consecutive days, only five teams out of thirty NBA franchises (Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns) have positive efficiency margins, providing concrete evidence these teams are the elite of the NBA this season. Since I am unable to give the Bulls any sort of praise without adding some sort of negative disclaimer, it should be noted that their efficiency margin is only 0.4 for the first game so they barely make the list. The other four teams qualify with room to spare.

Some leeway must then be given to NBA teams when their respective fans see a game on two consecutive days looming on the calendar. Hope that your team will win both games, but expect them to only do well in one of them.



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