Sunday, 5 July 2020

NBA Restart Totals

The regular season is anticipated to begin on July 23-24. MLB has submitted a proposed 60-game schedule to the MLBPA to review. It has not yet been finalized.
I still have my doubts that the MLB season will take place, with the schedule still not confirmed, the clock ticking, players test positive for COVID-19 and at least two star players opting to skip the season for health (coronavirus) reasons.

The message at the top of this post has been unchanged for over a week now, and the Los Angeles Dodgers' star pitcher David Price and Atlanta Braves' Felix Hernandez announced yesterday that they would sit out.

It must be nice to be able to forgo an $11.9m salary for 60 games! Maybe I'm overthinking this, but if more players test positive (for COVID-19, not PEDs as has been the traditional meaning) and / or more leading players choose not to play, the season may well not happen. I hope I'm wrong.

The NBA is moving forward with its plans to resume play as I mentioned in this post last month.
All 2019-20 NBA Restart games are played across three venues at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida and will begin on July 30. Based on a competitive format approved by the NBA Board of Governors and the NBPA, 22 teams will return to play during the 2019-20 NBA season. The 22 teams consist of the 16 teams (eight per conference) in current playoff positions and the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.
Early lines are open for the next games, although each team will have three warm-up games prior to the season resuming.

For anyone using "days rest" as a parameter, your models are going to be a little odd with values in the 140s rather then the usual low single digits, and of course the Home / away designation is purely for administrative reasons. It will be another opportunity to look at the impact to a sport of no crowd.

The sportsbooks appear to be expecting a decline in the total points. Looking at the first few games and comparing them with earlier totals, I see the following:

Utah Jazz v New Orleans Pelicans : Jazz were favourites in all three previous match-ups this season, but are 'dogs currently. Previous totals were all higher than the 219.5, with all three games going Over.

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers : Average total was set at 224 in the first three match-ups, down to 218.5. All three went Under. 

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets : Only two previous match-ups with the total set at the average of those two.

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers : Total set 12 points lower than the one previous match-up.

Phoenix Suns v Washington Wizards : Total set 10 points lower than the one previous match-up.

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks : Total set 7.5 points lower than the average for the two previous match-ups.

With no fans, and in the NBA fans are close to the court and probably affect players more than perhaps other sports, these games may have the feel of Summer League games, which are generally lower scoring but the quality of the players is generally poorer too. I suspect the books are correct in lowering the totals, but have they lowered them enough. I suspect maybe not. 

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