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Rockets lead league in back-to-backs played and won

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Play faster and more often.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Houston Rockets
Play faster. And more often. Harden and the Rockets are 12 - 1 in the second night of a back-to-back.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After disrupting Mardi Gras by laying a 30-point win on the New Orleans Pelicans last night, what’s the best the Rockets could do for themselves? Play again tonight!

Why?

The Rockets lead the NBA in wins on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Rockets share the NBA lead in total games played. The Rockets share the NBA lead in back-to-backs played. The Rockets are top five in the NBA in percentage of total games played on no rest.

It’s an adage-shattering reality.

The NBA team that has played both the most games and the most back-to-backs is not showing signs of being tired (anymore). In fact, the red and yellow boys from the Bayou lead the NBA with a rest-and-recovery defying 92.3% win rate on the second night of back-to-backs.

How is that possible? Most people can’t go to the gym two days in a row. The Houston Rockets are a ridiculous 12-1 in these games.

Is it too late for Les Alexander to petition the NBA to adopt Major League Baseball’s day-after-day playoff schedule?

Before the All-Star break, the Rockets, Grizzlies, Magic and Lakers led the NBA in games played with 58. That total is two more contests than the league-leading Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs.

The axiom goes: NBA teams are at a marked disadvantage on the second night of a back-to-back. The compounded games come with tired legs, increased chance of injuries and they regularly come on taxing road trips, not relaxed stays in your own bed.

Players, the league and owners have deemed back-to-backs and stretches of four games in five nights such a disadvantage to everyone that next year’s NBA season will start 10 days earlier. The new schedule will lessen back-to-backs and clusters of games at the cost of owners giving up the revenue they reap from preseason games.

Owners are willing to give up money. That’s how acknowledged the problem of a clustered NBA schedule has become.

The Rockets are shattering the axiom that tired legs lead to bad play and losses:

Rockets lead NBA in back-to-back win percentage

Team GP 0 Rest Win % GP 0 Day Rest % of GP w/ 0 Rest
Team GP 0 Rest Win % GP 0 Day Rest % of GP w/ 0 Rest
Rockets 58 92.30% 13 22.40%
Spurs 56 90.00% 10 17.90%
Warriors 56 81.80% 11 19.60%
Grizzlies 58 76.90% 13 22.40%
Hawks 56 72.70% 11 19.60%
Celtics 57 69.20% 13 22.80%
Timberwolves 57 55.60% 9 15.80%
Jazz 57 53.80% 13 22.80%
Clippers 56 45.50% 11 19.60%
Bulls 57 41.70% 12 21.10%
Raptors 57 41.70% 12 21.10%
Suns 57 40.00% 10 17.50%
Trail Blazers 56 40.00% 10 17.90%
Hornets 56 36.40% 11 19.60%
Cavaliers 55 36.40% 11 20.00%
Pelicans 57 36.40% 11 19.30%
Bucks 55 33.30% 12 21.80%
76ers 56 30.80% 13 23.20%
Kings 57 30.80% 13 22.80%
Heat 57 30.00% 10 17.50%
Wizards 55 30.00% 10 18.20%
Thunder 57 27.30% 11 19.30%
Magic 58 27.30% 11 19.00%
Pacers 57 25.00% 12 21.10%
Lakers 58 23.10% 13 22.40%
Pistons 57 20.00% 10 17.50%
Knicks 57 18.20% 11 19.30%
Nuggets 56 16.70% 12 21.40%
Mavericks 56 9.10% 11 19.60%
Nets 56 0.00% 9 16.10%
Max Croes - The Dream Shake

This is eye opening. These stats make the argument that it’s not the youngest teams and their spry legs winning games on no rest and a half day of preparation. The teams with the most wins on the second night of a back-to-back are the teams with a solid system who know their game plan regardless of the opponent or preparation time: Houston, San Antonio, Golden State and Memphis.

The Spurs place second in win percentage on no rest, but they’ve only played 10 games this season on the second night of a back-to-back. The Rockets continue to defy expectations in this table of statistics because they share the league lead in back-to-backs played before the All-Star break (seven teams top out at 13 games played on no rest).

When you break it out by percentage, the Spurs have only played 18% of their games on the second night of a back-to-back. The Rockets sit at fifth in the NBA having played 22.4 percent of their games on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Rockets’ 40 wins before the All-Star break become even more impressive when you know the team played with no rest and no preparation time nearly one-out-of-four of the times they’ve pulled on a jersey this season.

That trend doesn’t hold in the back end of the season. Houston’s already played 13 of their 16 back-to-backs (the Hawks have 8 back-to-backs left). Traditionally. this is good news. It means the Rockets will receive more rest while playing a less chaotic schedule before the playoffs.

But when you’re winning 92 percent of your second night back-to-backs why would you want to slow down? The Rockets should want the playoffs to start today.

Back-To-Back games left post All-Star break

Team GP Total 2017 B2Bs GP 0 Day Rest % Games Remain w/ 0 Rest
Team GP Total 2017 B2Bs GP 0 Day Rest % Games Remain w/ 0 Rest
Thunder 57 13 11 8.00%
Bulls 57 15 12 12.00%
Knicks 57 14 11 12.00%
Rockets 58 16 13 12.50%
Lakers 58 16 13 12.50%
76ers 56 17 13 15.40%
Nuggets 56 16 12 15.40%
Mavericks 56 15 11 15.40%
Celtics 57 17 13 16.00%
Jazz 57 17 13 16.00%
Suns 57 14 10 16.00%
Grizzlies 58 17 13 16.70%
Magic 58 15 11 16.70%
Spurs 56 15 10 19.20%
Trail Blazers 56 15 10 19.20%
Hornets 56 16 11 19.20%
Nets 56 14 9 19.20%
Timberwolves 57 14 9 20.00%
Raptors 57 17 12 20.00%
Kings 57 18 13 20.00%
Heat 57 15 10 20.00%
Pacers 57 17 12 20.00%
Cavaliers 55 17 11 22.20%
Bucks 55 18 12 22.20%
Wizards 55 16 10 22.20%
Warriors 56 17 11 23.10%
Pelicans 57 17 11 24.00%
Clippers 56 18 11 26.90%
Pistons 57 17 10 28.00%
Hawks 56 19 11 30.80%
Houston is set to get more rest in the post All-Star break NBA. Max Croes - The Dream Shake

Houston doesn’t play on Friday night, when they would be odds on favorites to beat anyone just based on these metrics. They do play on Saturday night against Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

The only team to defeat Houston in the second night of a back-to-back this season: the Timberwolves.

Use this spreadsheet to view and access all the statistics used here