NBA teams often face long stretches of road games, with 261 matches played per season as part of two or more back-to-back away games. Do NBA teams perform worse during these long road streaks? We investigated these sequences to see what this can tell us for NBA betting on the road.
Throughout the 2012 NBA season, away teams won 41.6% of games. However, when franchises were involved in road trips involving more than one game they won 42.3% of the time – an increase of 0.7%.
This goes against what most punters might assume – teams actually won more during sequences of away games than individual matches on the road.
Two is the Magic Number
Even more interestingly, teams that embark on a two game away streak have a better win percentage (44.4%) than the average of 42.3% – an increase of 2.1%. For some reason, teams won more away games if they played two in a row rather than single games or longer sequences.
A Drop off in Games 3 & 4
Despite better than average performances during a two game away run, franchises’ win percentages suffer dramatically during road streaks involving three or four games.
When franchises play three or four sequential road games, their win percentage drops to 37.2% and 37.1 % – down a huge 5.1% and 5.2% respectively.
There are a number of external factors that may affect a team during a run of three or four consecutive away games.
NBA teams on the road for longer than two games will often play back-to-back games over two days, which can result in players becoming fatigued due to a lack of recovery time, while teams also play around twice as many back-to-back games on the road as they do at home.
Confidence a Factor on Longer Away Runs
A common assumption is that the longer an NBA franchise is on the road the more likely they are to lose. However, by looking at the data from last season all sequences from five to nine games had a higher than average win percentage (42.3%).
Confidence could be a factor behind the unforeseen results, as each win during a road trip would galvanize a team, that otherwise may struggle with fatigue and a lack of motivation.
Also the longer the trip, the more rest days they will have, while being away from home for a longer period could create a ‘siege mentality’ amongst the squad, which is doubtful for trips spanning three games.
Over five seasons NBA scheduling ensures each team will have played 80 games against their division, 180 games against the rest of their conference and 150 games against the other conference.
For this reason punters betting on the NBA should evaluate five seasons of NBA action for a more accurate reflection of betting on NBA road teams.