Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

By Mark Strotman | | 3 mins

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NBA Betting Tips: Should You Back Teams with Zero Days Rest?

NBA Betting Tips: Should You Back Teams with Zero Days Rest?
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At a time when basketball is being played at its fastest pace in decades by the most athletic people the world has ever seen, ironically it’s rest that is becoming one of the league’s largest talking points and something key to consider in NBA betting.

Consider the number of players in the NBA who have averaged 35.0 or more minutes per game in recent years. That’s, for example, 9 minutes in the first quarter, 7 more in the second, 9 more in the third quarter and 10 in the final period. That’s clearly a significant player who adds significant value to a team.

Looking back at data from the last 10 seasons, here are the number of players who have topped the 35-minute per game mark:

  • 2009-10: 42
  • 2010-11: 40
  • 2011-12: 27
  • 2012-13: 29
  • 2013-14: 33
  • 2014-15: 15
  • 2015-16: 20
  • 2016-17: 16
  • 2017-18: 14
  • 2018-19: 9

Bradley Beal led the NBA in minutes in 2018-19, averaging 36.9 minutes per game. Just six short years ago, in 2013, Beal’s per-game total would have ranked 16th in the NBA.

Why NBA Teams Rest Players More

There are a host of reasons why players simply aren’t playing as many minutes.

Benches are deeper as the talent pool across the league has improved; players are being paid more than ever before and thus are more valuable investments that need proper rest and care; the playoffs matter, and teams such as the Spurs and Warriors are proving that rest during the regular season pays dividends by season’s end.

In regards to the last note, the NBA has attempted to combat teams resting their players. In 2017 Adam Silver and the league passed a rule that could have teams fined up to $100,000 for resting healthy players.

The league has also moved up the start date of the NBA regular season (and cut preseason games from eight to five) to eliminate teams playing four games in five nights and lessening the number of back-to-backs a team plays.

How to Bet NBA Teams on Zero Days Rest

And that’s where we see our trend. In the past, the second leg of a back-to-back was a nightmare. And for obvious reasons. We can only imagine, but playing in an NBA basketball game seems tiring. Playing in another one 24 hours later probably lessens your ability to run and jump as well as the opposing team.

The numbers support that. Here’s a look at how teams playing on zero days rest have fared both in point spread betting and straight-up moneyline betting.

YearATS RecordSU Record
2013-14285-295245-339
2014-15305-282278-321
2015-16281-271248-306
2016-17248-253215-296
2017-18218-221200-251
2018-19194-201-3171-227

While you can see how the total number of zero days’ rest games have been played each season (584 in 2014; 451 last season), teams are now showing signs of being better prepared for handling the second legs of these back-to-backs.

Whether it’s resting players on that first leg or simply stretching the bench deeper, we’ve seen a trend hit early in the 2018 season.

NBA Betting Tips for Back-to-Backs

In the last five seasons the best win percentage teams had on zero days rest was 46.4% in 2015. And while 2015 and 2016 saw teams on no days rest post winning records against the spread, 2019 saw a regression on both fronts.

Perhaps it was oddsmakers adjusting, or it’s the fact that many of the players who rest on back-to-backs are their team’s best players. It’s not headline news when a reserve rests, but when a Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis or LeBron James rests, it can shift a line considerably and has a direct effect on the team. But oddsmakers appear to be keeping up with those adjustments.

The more players rest, the more their teams have their backs against the wall to make up for those players. And in 2019, when rest was at an all-time high and minutes were at a low point for the decade, teams on back-to-backs struggled.

That’s something to watch for moving forward, considering how successful Leonard and the Toronto Raptors were utilizing the “load management” tactic on their star. They picked and chosen spots to rest Leonard and it resulted in an NBA title.

Beware of zero days rest as the league continues to rest its stars with the postseason in mind.

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