Understanding How Load Management Impacts NBA Betting

Nov 25, 2022

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If you watched the NBA in the 1980s and into the ‘90s, you might remember “Showtime” in Los Angeles or the Boston Celtics’ “Big Three” frontcourt with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. The Lakers and Celtics alone had some of the more memorable battles in NBA history during this time. What’s interesting about those times in the NBA is something you don’t see very much anymore.

On any given night in L.A. for example, fans would show up to the arena and Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Byron Scott, and Michael Cooper would take the floor. In all 82 games of the season, the same starting five – barring injuries – would take the floor.

In the 1987-88 season, just one year prior to his eventual retirement, Abdul-Jabbar played in 80 of 82 regular season games. Five times in his 20-year career, he played every game in a season. Players don’t do that today. In today’s NBA, load management is a big deal. Teams want to get the most out of their players. To do so, periodic rest is best. This rest impacts NBA betting.

Resting Players

Teams will often have players skip an entire game. Sometimes, players will sit the entire fourth quarter of a game that is out of reach. Other times, teams will limit the number of minutes a player is on the floor in a game. These are all forms of load management and they can all have an impact on NBA betting.

Why Rest Players

Resting athletes toward the end of a season is a typical occurrence in sports. Teams that have already qualified for the playoffs, for example, have the luxury of choosing when to rest players. At the other end of the spectrum, there are teams that have been eliminated from the postseason. They can do the same and rest players in preparation for the following season. Those teams can also give some of their younger players more playing time.

Certain players also require some time off. It has been typical for NBA teams to rest star players in the event they play games on back-to-back nights. LeBron James and Joel Embiid are two good examples. Both players usually do not play on back-to-back nights. The same is often true of players coming back from a serious injury.  Understanding load management needs to be part of any NBA winning basketball strategy.

NBA Betting & Rest Today

The modern idea of load management may have taken its form back in 2012. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich rested his Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. The Spurs were most likely going to be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The NBA fined San Antonio for sitting the players, but the Spurs did eventually make it to the conference finals. The move paved the way for the league to change its rules regarding resting players.

While the fans may feel slighted when a star player is rested, the biggest impact of the NBA’s load management is on the sports bettor. NBA betting becomes that much more difficult when players, particularly key players, sit out. A large portion of these load management decisions are made just before a game.

NBA betting strategies have to be adjusted because of the potential of a key player sitting out. NBA betting often turns into a crap shoot. Putting together an NBA parlay is even worse. Unless all the games on your ticket start at the same time, you are taking an even bigger risk than just the parlay. Keep in mind that NBA teams don’t have to announce who’s out until roughly 30 minutes before tip-off.

With the amount of information available today, NBA bettors can usually figure out if a player is going to sit out or not. If there is even the slightest question about resting a player on a given night, that might be your cue to lay off placing a wager on that game.

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