With the release of the 2015/16 NBA schedule, much of the focus has been on the reduction in back-to-backs, four games in five nights, and total distance traveled. Yet, hidden behind these broad numbers are subtle differences that change how the schedules can be interpreted.
My previous analysis here and here showed that there’s a large split in performance when a team has 0 rest compared to 1 or more days of rest. Furthermore, we already know that there’s significant[1. Though less pronounced for much of 2014/15.] home court advantage in the NBA. I decided to look into splits in performance using 2014-15 season results as a rough baseline. The following chart breaks down win% for games last season based on these rest differential factors[2. Note, these results are not adjusted for team strength or individual matchups.].
Rested home teams playing facing opponents on back-to-backs held a significant advantage and so on. As there were different levels of advantage, I decided to break down each team’s 15-16 schedule based on these buckets[1. Sortable data for each team can be found here].
Below are two graphs breaking down 1) the full season schedule for each team based on the buckets above, and 2) A look only at 0 rest games with their corresponding buckets. Click on the graphs to enlarge.
Based on the 2014/15 data, I espinster “expected wins added” based on scheduling differences:
Any advantage gained appears pretry marginal. Given the logistical issues facing the NBA, I think the league did a pretty good job of creating a fair schedule. That said, the 1 game against edge held by Atlanta over Brooklyn. With how close the races for playoff seeding can be, that could end up being a huge difference. And while the schedule makers did a great job overall, there is simply no way to make everyone happy: