So the season has started again, with the typical actions of hardcore fans and GMs looking at their team schedules and spouting acronyms like SEGABABA and QQ since August (or since Mark Cuban started blogging about this concept, thus the QQ). When the Orlando game on 11/02 was postponed due to potential asbestos, I wondered if any team just got saved from a back-to-back (you know, after thinking about Dwight Howard going to bed hungry that night without feasting on the defenseless STAT and Mozgov), or how it would impact scheduling.

Since fatigue is something no popular advanced basketball statistic really accounts for, but we know has an impact on the game, let's get this down on paper once and for all. Introducing AnacondaHL's Unnecessarily Comprehensive and Overdue NBA 2010-11 Schedule Analysis. Let it be noted that I personally hate the term SEGABABA and it's unconsious implications of a toddler asking for Sonic the Hedgehog and a milk bottle, but due to aesthetic readibility considerations, I will be using it and "4in5" throughout the post.

  • 1230 games, between 2 teams (hurr durf)
  • Teams will be on a SEGABABA 601 times, average 20 per team, range 16 to 23.
  • 496 games will feature atleast 1 team on the SEGABABA.
  • Teams will be on a 4in5 68 times.
  • 64 games will feature atleast 1 team on a 4in5. More on this later.
So given the constraints, as well as a ton of local scheduling issues, the computer that churns out the schedule seems to do a good job. So far. But what about when viewed from the opponent's side? In other words, how many games does my team play against a team on their SEGABABA, especially when my team is rested? Things don't look as pretty...

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Sheet "All1230" shows every single game to be played this season:
  • Columns A-F - Raw data.
  • HH B2B - When the team's back to back are both home games. This only occurs 15 times out of the 601.
  • VH B2B - When the team travels from Visiting team to Home. Note: I did not analyze Clippers or Lakers games with advanced rules, but considering that the Lakers are the only one with the league lowest 15 SEGABABAs anyways, the result would probably just make me sicker, so you do it if you want to know.
  • HV B2B - When a team plays their SEGABABA on the road, first at home.
  • VV B2B - Both games on the road.
  • Any B2B - Adding them together, so games with both teams on a SEGABABA get the value 2.
  • 4in5 - Here, I use the terms V, H, and VH for if the Visiting team, Home team, or both are on their 4in5.
Sheet "Team B2Bs" summarizes each team's schedule. It includes some colors by me to filter below and above average schedules by eye. A quick rundown on the abbreviations in addition to above:
  • Only B2B - When the team is playing a SEGABABA against a rested opponent.
  • OppB2B - Any time the opponent is on their SEGABABA
  • OppOnly B2B - Any time the opponent is on their SEGABABA but the team is not. This is probably the column most of your are interested in.
  • BothB2B - When both teams are on their SEGABABA. Ugh.
  • Opp4in5 - Any time the opponent is on their 4in5
  • OppOnly 4in5 - Essentially free wins.
  • Both 4in5 - BasketBawful.
  • 4in5 margin - Gift games given or stolen.
So here we see the NBA computers didn't do so well to make things even across the league. The Suns get hooked up with only playing 16 SEGABABAs, while facing 20 opponent SEGABABAs when rested. Gotta squeeze every last game outta Nash, eh Stern? [fake editor's note: Thanks Stern! -AHL] The Lakers story, however, features only 9 games of unrested opponents, and the poor Knicks schedule looks even worse, adding in some future asbestos game. You can also see the unbalance by looking at how many games your team plays in a SEGABABA and your opponent rested (by subtracting Both B2B from Any B2B), with the results shown in column "Only B2B". Here it looks like Minnesota gets the cake (7 games as the only team on SEGABABA) while Atlanta gets screwed (18 games).

OTOH, the schedule seems to balance out any advantages of playing 4in5 opponents by scheduling near equal 4in5s on the team, as shown by the 4in5 margin column. Only Philly and, again, the Knicks get screwed with 4 and 3 4in5s, respectively, without playing any 4in5 opponents, while Boston gets a bonus by having only 1 4in5 but playing 4 opponents on theirs.

So we could spin and apply this analysis many ways. Maybe for betting interpretations, you know, if betting was legal. [/Simmons] Or maybe for fantasy sports, getting more games but checking out performance. But instead, I decided to highlight what I'll call the BasketBawful Sponsered Games of the Season, which comes down to the only 4 games featuring both teams finishing up 4in5s. Getcha popcorn, and calendars, ready.
  • Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 @ 8:00 p.m. EST - Charlotte Bobcats vs Chicago Bulls
  • Saturday, February 12th, 2011 @ 8:30 p.m. EST - Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks
  • Thursday, March 10th, 2011 @ 8:30 p.m. EST - New York Knicks vs Dallas Mavericks
  • Saturday, April 9th, 2011 @ 8:30 p.m. EST - Cleveland Cavaliers vs Milwaukee Bucks


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Anonymous Anonymous said...
We all need a little bit more SEGABABA in our lives

Anonymous Lucas said...
Hey Bawful, please update your post. Last night's closely contested game between the Thunder and Blazers provided some hilarity, thanks to mega bawful announcing butchering the end of the game:

Anonymous Anonymous said...
It may not be a pair of 4in5s, but I have the utmost joy in attending tonights 76ers hosting the Cleveland Sadoliers. I'm hoping the total score is below 150.

Blogger Unknown said...
So with the way the Cavs are likely to play this year, they might have to rename their arena the QQ.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Adam - If I were home now, I'd absolutely photoshop the arena name, with obligatory Comic Sans font.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Great stuff, AnacondaHL.

Anonymous Silvio said...
Schedule took a big dip in quality few seasons ago, I think starting with season 2008-09. From few years ago teams started complaining about too many b2b games, about home-and-home b2b (tickets not selling well) which were non-existent before, Jazz complained they suddenly play Sunday home games which was not case before ...

Surely, it is not realistic to except good schedule when 82 games must be squeezed into some 164 game days, in the meantime trying to avoid collision with NFL as much as possible ... but things went from bad to worse few years ago.

It would be great if someone could run same analysis for last 10 seasons - I'm positive that analysis would show there is point in time when acceptable bad schedule became bawful schedule. It certainly looks like NBA had some drastic change of personnel in scheduling department summer 2008 (or sometimes near) - shit often happens when young, ignorant-yet-overconfident dudes take over things.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
It's been the same one guy who's been making the schedule for 25 years.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Silvio - Okay, so because I'm kinda crazy, I modded the macro and did the schedule analysis on the past 10 years. Mostly because I wanted to see if people (not just you) throwing around blanket statements like "dip in quality few seasons ago, I think starting with season 2008-09" were onto something or not. Note that the new analysis took away the ORL/NYK game.

Short Answer: No.

Long Answer: Since 2000-01, each season contains about 570-600 B2Bs, with teams averaging near 19-20 each. The number of 4in5s has actually improved, from averaging around 100 at the beginning of the decade to the 67 this year (down from 78 last year, down from 89 in 2006-07, etc.)

What has not improved, however, is the same thing I put in the post. The number of times a team plays against an opponent on their SEGABABA while rested themselves remains quite unbalanced, and has been for a while. There's almost always some teams that get 19-20 tired opponents (often it's the Suns like this year), and almost always teams that get only 6-8 (often it's the Lakers like this year)!

And guess which team is ironically almost always near the league average? Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks.

Anonymous Silvio said...
Thanks a lot AnacondaHL and anonymous.

So, my perception was completely wrong. Another perception I have (and might as well be wrong) is teams like Suns, Jazz and Nuggets often playing tired East conference opponents that are on the tail end of West trip. Stopping there on their way home. And same thing with Bulls and especially Bucks when West teams travel home from East Coast.

Anonymous AK Dave said...
Nicely done, dude.

That spreadsheet is pretty fun to look at, and educational too. For example, I find it interesting and surprising that Chicago, despite having more b2b's than any other team, also has the advantage of playing AGAINST more teams on THEIR second night of a b2b.

Chicago also has more opp 4in5 than they themselves have. At first glance, we see that they play more 4in5's than most other teams, and that seems unfair, until you see the big picture and notice that they are -1 in 4in5margin.

So in reality, the moaning and groaning about all the b2b's Chicago will face is BS because their opponents will often be just as, if not more, tired than they are.

You deserve a delicious bass for your work here, AHL.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Silvio - On a league basis it evens out, but for specific teams some do get the benefit. Your feeling of the Mountain/Central teams getting more opponents on their B2B, at a glance, seems to be right though. Lakers and Knicks perennially get much fewer tired opponents, and the Suns get more.

AK Dave - Well I do like me some bass.

As a follow-up, I'm deciding what do do about my decade analysis spreadsheet, and how to present the info if at all. Maybe one of those Google motion charts would be the best if I can figure it out. I guess in the end I could just try to e-mail that dude who makes the NBA schedule, maybe suggest some sort of A* or genetic algorithm for his computer program.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous AK Dave said...
Get rid of anonymous at 10:13's comment. Stupid comment spammers.

Blogger Dan B. said...
AK Dave -- Done and done.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Damn that was some hard core nerdalacious stat packin excel crunchin basketbawful radness.