How fatigue shaped the season, and what it means for the playoffs

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Gary Vitti uttered those words to ESPN late in the 2015-16 season, after retiring from his full-time post as the NBA's longest-tenured head athletic trainer, cheap nfl authentic jerseys a position he held for 32 seasons. And that idea embodies the spirit of our our schedule alert project, which we launched the following season. Those in the NBA have long known -- perhaps as long as Vitti spent in his role -- that teams lose games because of fatigue, leading to the "schedule losses" axiom.

Our project aims to target those games using a formula that takes into account only factors related to the schedule, meaning no consideration for team/player quality. And in our first season, even after the NBA reduced the number of back-to-backs and four-in-five sets, we correctly predicted 69 percent (29 of 42) overall, including 76.5 percent (13 of 17) of red-alert games, i.e. games in which one team has an especially steep disadvantage because of the schedule.

The NBA again tweaked its schedule this season, trimming more back-to-backs, eliminating four-in-fives and starting the season earlier, among other changes. But with the Bucks' 102-86 win over the Magic on Monday, the second season of schedule alert is complete, and we correctly picked 77.8 percent (42 of 54) overall, including seven of nine of red-alert games.

For context, that success rate for schedule alert games in 2017-18 is far more successful than our formula predicted we'd be, as we applied that formula to 10 seasons' worth of games -- from 2007-08 through 2016-17 -- and the results showed that teams facing schedule alert situations lose 63 percent of the time.

The night before playing in a schedule alert game in Salt Lake City, Kings coach Dave Joerger said, "We're just trying to survive. Five games in seven nights. Five different cities, three different time zones." His squad then lost to a Jazz team that was off the night before.

Then-Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic voiced displeasure with the schedule after his team suffered a 39-point loss in a schedule alert game in January in Indiana. "I know we were talking about we were going to start earlier this season, have less back-to-backs," Mirotic said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "But I feel like so far the schedule is even worse than last year, to be honest. It's not an excuse. But it's true that it's been hard, a lot of back-to-backs and long weeks."

As we followed these games closely all season, certain trends emerged. So here, thanks to the tireless research efforts from ESPN Stats & Information, cheap authentic nfl jerseys are some figures that help show the ways in which fatigue can take a toll on performance, as well as standout moments from the season and what this all could mean for the 2017-18 playoffs.

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