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Athletes, especially professionals, are, by their nature extremely confident and often cocky/arrogant about their ability to play well whenever they take the field or court of play. They also possess pride and are often motivated following a poor effort to perform better in their next time out.

This is especially true when facing the opponent that defeated them in their most recent meeting and the return match occurs within days.

Handicapping and betting the NBA is much more than Power Ratings and pure analytics. More than perhaps any other sport, the structure of the NBA lends itself to situational handicapping being a huge part of the bettor’s arsenal. Evaluating the dynamics of load management, scheduling, travel and that only five players participate on the court at any one time, playing both offense and defense creates unique challenges.

One such variable that relates to the psychological aspect of handicapping is in gauging how teams react to a loss to a foe that they face again in a back-to-back situation. With the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affecting scheduling for this season that situation will come up frequently. Already this season there have been 18 such occurrences with another having been Tuesday night when the Lakers played a second straight game at Houston after having defeated the Rockets 120-102 on Sunday.

The theory going in is that after losing the first game of a back-to-back the loser of the first meeting will make quick adjustments, perhaps play with a greater sense of urgency or intensity and avenge that loss from 24 to 48 hours earlier. It would seem to make sense that playing the loser of the first game to at least cover the line in its next game is an attractive option.

Yet the results this season are mixed. In the previous 17 such situations, the team seeking quick revenge is just 8-10 both SU and ATS. If the first game was decided by double digits, the avenging team has gone just 2-7 SU and 5-4 ATS.

The overall application of the concept has been below .500. The second has shown an ATS profit of less than one unit but has seen the SU loser of the first game also lose the second when the first loss was by double digits in seven of nine attempts.

Interestingly, Golden State is a perfect 2-0 in this spot, avenging losses to both Portland and the LA Clippers with outright wins (and covers) as underdogs in the immediate rematches, each of which was two nights later.

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A point to be made here is that even though a concept makes sense it still must be researched to either prove or disprove the concept before blindly putting it into action. As with most handicapping concepts, even ones that have shown an extended period of success, the concept is just one part of the process with each game being scrutinized as an isolated event.


Knicks at Cavaliers: Both teams stood 5-6 through Monday and were coming off multiple losses. Neither was expected to contend for the playoffs this season but each expects to improve.

That’s especially true in New York when the Knicks hired veteran coach Tom Thibodeau to start the process. He’s long been a defense-first coach and New York is making strides at that end of the court. UNDER


Hornets at Raptors: Projected to finish well below .500, Charlotte has performed better than expected and at 6-5 began Tuesday on a four-game winning streak.

Admittedly the Hornets have defeated mostly non-winning teams but that’s how teams begin to show improvement.

Toronto’s loss Monday night at Portland has the Raptors tied for the NBA’s worst record, 2-8. Projected to solidly make the playoffs, Toronto’s poor start might be attributed to being based this season in Tampa. There seems to be a lack of sustained rhythm and several big leads have been blown. 

The line should come cheap and a look at the schedule shows the Raptors have played a tough early schedule and, despite the record, are being outscored by just 1.4 points per game. RAPTORS


Pacers at Clippers: This is a tough spot for Indiana, playing a fifth straight road game, all within a seven-day stretch. And they played Saturday night in Phoenix. 

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are combining to average 49.4 points, 11.2 boards and 11.1 assists per game.  CLIPPERS 

Last week: 2-0

Season: 5-7

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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