Sunday, January 17, 2010
Do the Raptors strategically schedule Western Conference opponents to early Sunday afternoon game times? Is there an actual advantage to doing that?
The Raptors have played at home 19 times this season (sporting an impressive 13-6 record).
There has been roughly a 50/50 split between Sunday home dates and non-Sunday home dates (9/10 split).
Despite the nearly even split of Sunday and non-Sunday games, the Raptors have played just one Western Conference team on a non-Sunday home date. Conversely, the majority of their Sunday home games have come against teams from the West (Phoenix, Houston, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Dallas).
Before we get to some more numbers, first, let me explain the theory:
CREATURES OF HABIT
Basketball players, and all professional athletes really, are creatures of habit. From the time they're young teenagers, they're told not only when to stretch, study, practice, & play... they're also told when to sleep, eat, nap, wake up, etc... (none of this, I'm aware, is groundbreaking).
Most of these athletes are used to playing at night. They're used to the odd afternoon game, HOWEVER, what they aren't used to are morning games. And for teams from the West, a 12:30 start in Toronto is a morning game. Let me put it to you this way: How would you perform in your regular 11 a.m. budget meeting if all of a sudden it was scheduled for 3 a.m.?
So, as I said, five of Toronto's 9 Sunday home games have come against Western Conference teams, while just 1 of their 10 non-Sunday home games have come against the West.
Phoenix, Houston, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Dallas---all over .500, all potential playoff teams, all (arguably) better than Toronto.
Collectively, they're 35 games above .500 (Toronto is one). In those five Sundays against Toronto, they're 1-4 (and losers of four straight).
Collectively, they average 102 points per game (Toronto allows 104). In those five Sundays against Toronto, they average 93.
Collectively, they shoot 46.5% from the floor (Overall, Toronto allows its opponents to shoot 46.3%). In those five Sundays against Toronto, they shot 42.5%.
Overall, Toronto is -55 in total rebounding this season. In those five Sundays against Western Conference opponents, they're +4.
So it looks as if Toronto does gain an advantage by playing against Western Conference teams early on Sundays. If you're skeptical, let's replay all those five games at 7 pm on Wednesdays, what do you think the numbers would look like then?
STAT OF THE DAY
Jose Calderon was a game-high +32 against Dallas on Sunday. He's better than Jarrett Jack, in case anyone was wondering.