Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Rest vs. rust … ah, yes.
It’s a common theme that spans across all sports, particularly in the playoffs, and the question that is usually posed is whether or not getting rest is a blessing or a burden? For the Orlando Magic, it would seem to be the latter, given that they’ve been playing their best basketball at the perfect time. For example, including a first round sweep against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Magic are 24-3 in their last 27 games and currently on a franchise-best 10-game winning streak. The last thing Orlando needs is rest, right?
There’s a way to find out.
Fortunately, there is a metric that is available to the public that can figure out the impact of rest days on possession-based stats. Rest day efficiency. According to NBAstuffer, “to determine the impact of rest days more precisely, efficiencies are adjusted to account for opponent strength and game location (playing on the road or at home).” If you check out the site, all scenarios are accounted for: four games in five days, three games in four days (played yesterday), second game of a back-to-back set, three games in four days (rested yesterday), one day of rest, two days of rest, and three days of rest or more. It’s important to note that the sample size varies, depending on the rest days. For instance, more teams will naturally play on back-to-backs than on four games in five days. Moving on.
Let’s take a look at the criteria that matters most to the Magic — performance in games when playing on three days of rest or more.
2009-2010 regular season:
|team||games||winning percentage||efficiency differential|
|Los Angeles Lakers||6||.833||+5.1|
Orlando has yet to lose a game this year when well-rested. But who did the Magic play? As previously mentioned, efficiencies are adjusted to account for opponent strength and game location but it’s always good to get to see exactly who Orlando played against during the regular season.
|date||opponent||result||days of rest/opp||days of rest/ORL|
|Oct. 28||Philadelphia 76ers||W, 120-106||4||4|
|Dec. 30||Milwaukee Bucks||W, 117-92||1||4|
|Feb. 17||Detroit Pistons||W, 116-91||0||5|
|Mar. 22||Philadelphia 76ers||W, 109-93||1||3|
|Apr. 1||Dallas Mavericks||W, 97-82||0||3|
Admittedly, it’s a mixed bag of opponents. Some bad, some good. The most important thing to notice, though, is the margin of victory. It’s safe to say that when the Magic get rest, they play extremely well. Orlando’s current situation is a little unique because they are going to get possibly five days rest or more before playing Game 1 in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals but at the same time, it’s not foreign territory for the players since they played on five days of rest against the Detroit Pistons immediately after All-Star weekend.
Taking into account the numbers, as well as noting head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s excellent preparedness before games (especially when he has ample time to develop gameplans), rust shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Magic when they face off against either Milwaukee Bucks or the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs.