In the NBA playoffs where some games are decided by a possession or less, the tiniest of factors, especially compounded over time, can come back to make a big difference at the end of a game or a series. In this article, we’ll take a look at two aspects of the game – home court advantage and rest – to assess their importance on the outcome of NBA playoff games and how teams can use these two factors to their advantage.
Importance Of Home Court Advantage
While home court advantage is desirable in any sport, it’s not far-fetched to say that home court advantage is most desired by an NBA team out of any other sport. A player’s and team’s psyche plays such a huge role when the ball tips off and having or not having home court advantage could make a huge difference when the game is decided by a point or two – more so when a series is decided by a point or two in game seven. For teams who have home court advantage (e.g., they are the higher seeded team in the series), less travel, playing in a more comfortable setting, having fans cheering for instead of against you, being able to go through your regular game day routine, being able to sleep in the comforts of your own bed instead of a hotel bed, and knowing that if the series does indeed go to a game seven, that you’ll be able to play in your home building, are all some of the key advantages of having home court advantage. Although this won’t be the deciding factor in a NBA playoff game or series, the importance of home court advantage cannot be minimized. It’s why betting lines try to account for home court advantage by quantifying the impact that this will have on the spread and the game totals.
Importance Of Rest
After an 82-game regular season, even the fittest athletes will feel the effects of having to grind out 82 games, which is made worse with the insane amount of time spent travelling on the road. As a result, in more recent years, teams have started to implement regular rest days for veteran players with hopes that this will pay dividends in the playoffs when these veterans, but also key players will be fresher. Even in the NBA playoffs, especially in the first few rounds, teams would be wise to finish off their opponents in four or five games, as opposed to six or seven games. While playing in a seven-game series is technically only one to three more games that another team not involved in a seven-game series would have to play, the toll that this may have on a player or a team cannot be emphasized. Having to go through the grind of a seven-game series, especially in the earlier rounds of the playoffs, may come back and haunt a team in the latter rounds of the playoffs. Effects of having one or multiple series dragged on while not being able to take full advantage of rest and recovery will be compounded when a team reaches the conference finals and NBA finals. Small things add up over a longer period of time, and the importance of rest cannot be more true in this respect.