1. Sports
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.



Definition: In NBA terms, "back-to-back" is a term used to describe a stretch of schedule when a team plays two games in as many days.

Playing a back-to-back presents a number of challenges for NBA players. The biggest, of course, is fatigue. Playing two nights in a row doesn't give players much time to rest and recover. That can be exacerbated by travel schedules; playing a back-to-back in, say, New York and Philadelphia or Miami and Orlando isn't as bad as playing on night in Portland and the next in Denver or Salt Lake City.

Back-to-back scheduling can also create a major advantage for one team over another in a given game, when one team is playing the second game of a back-to-back and the other is better rested.

Back-to-Backs and Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy basketball players will want to stay aware of back-to-backs when drafting teams and setting weekly lineups; some players are more impacted by back-to-back games than others. For example:
  • Players working their way back from injury
  • Older players (Think: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd...)
  • Players with chronic conditions (bad knees, backs etc. Portland's Brandon Roy is a perfect example.)
Coaches often opt to limit the playing time of such players in back-to-backs, or sit them out of one game entirely.

Back-to-back scheduling can also impact playing time of key players on teams with championship aspirations. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovic is well-known for resting his key players - Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, primarily - when the opportunity presents itself, in the hopes of keeping his "big three" healthy for the postseason. Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics has taken similar steps with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

Back-to-Backs and the 2011-12 NBA Season

In an effort to fit a 66-game schedule into the lockout-shortened 2011-12 NBA season, the league has announced that all teams will play at least one back-to-back-to-back set, with some teams playing as many as three.

Obviously, a stretch of three games in three nights will have all the disadvantages of a regular back-to-back, and then some.

The league has also announced that there may be back-to-back scheduling in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, but not before the second round.

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni would be wise to limit Amar'e Stoudemire's playing time in back-to-backs, as the all-star forward has suffered from back and knee injuries in the past.
  1. About.com
  2. Sports
  3. NBA
  4. Basketball 101
  5. Basketball Glossary
  6. What is a back-to-back?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.