Red Alert: Mah Formula Says the Jazz Have a Tough One Coming

October 31st, 2018 | by Tyler Crandall


The next time former teammates Favors and Millsap face off, fatigue could be a factor, says Dr. Mah. (Melissa Majchrzak via

NBA players and pundits frequently speak about the impact of fatigue in influencing game outcomes, and yet we’re just beginning to understand how to quantify the effect of rest numerically or scientifically. Fatigues plays an even bigger role, obviously, for teams on the road, back-to-backs, or the dreaded four games in five nights.

If you haven’t heard of the work done by Dr. Cheri Mah, NBA sleep consultant, now’s a good time to learn about it. Returning for the third season since its debut, Mah’s formula is impressive and accurate as an indicator for “schedule losses.” There’s more detail about the formula and how it’s, well, formulated in this ESPN story, which is a great read.

P.S. if you give her a follow on the Twitters, Dr. Mah will frequently tweet alerts for upcoming games. 

For now, we’ll stick to the Jazzier side of the story.

In all, there are 42 NBA games with a “Mah” score of 8 or higher, which leads to a predicted loss rate of over 63%. Seven of those games are “red alert”, or a score over 9, with a rate over 68%.

How it affects the Jazz

As would be expected of a Utah Jazz team –insert sad, small violin gif here– they happen to have a game or two with a high “Mah” score. In fact, they have one coming up this week against a division rival: The Denver Nuggets. Thankfully, this is the only such game for them through the first half of the season.

Utah plays at home against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, November 2, only to get on the road to travel to Denver for a Saturday match-up with the Nuggets. Fortunately, SLC to Denver is a short flight, but fatigue will still be a factor. Especially when you consider they will be playing a grind-it-out game with the Grizzlies quickly followed up by a showdown with the offensive firepower of the fast-pace Nuggets.

Couple this with the fact that Denver had the fourth best home record last season and odds don’t look pretty for Utah. By the way, the formula correctly predicted the outcome in 74% of games last season.

In Utah’s favor, however, is the depth of the team. Earlier this week, Salt City Hoops writer Dane Coles touched on the performance of bench players Jae Crowder, Georges Niang, and Grayson Allen. And don’t forget one of the best –or at the very least quickest — backup point guards in the league, Dante Exum. They will all be needed for the Jazz to have a real chance. 

While Denver is loaded offensively through their starting unit, their bench lacks depth, particularly with injuries to Will Barton and Isaiah Thomas. Utah’s bench depth could help reduce the impact of fatigue.

It’s also worth noting that the Jazz had a winning record on games with zero days of rest last season, going 10-6 on the second night of back-to-backs. Of course, the Jazz depth was a factor in those games as well, in a very positive way. 

The Nuggets have been scorching hot thus far, and the Jazz lost both games in Denver last season. With the fatigue factored in by Mah’s formula, it’s a good idea for fans to temper expectations heading into this important rivalry game. That Jazz-Nuggets game is one of 76 remaining games (from the time of this writing), and Utah will have three more chances to take on the Nuggets, win or lose this first one.


Tyler Crandall

Tyler joins Salt City Hoops for the 2018-19 season, having previously written at The J-Notes. Tyler grew up in Utah watching the Stockton-to-Malone Jazz. He now lives in Brooklyn, NY and is an active tweeter at @tjcranman.

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