Early Season NBA Handicapping

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The NBA is arguably the hardest league to handicap successfully out of all of the professional leagues. It is not uncommon to see games where a favorite is covering by a wide margin after three quarters, only to give it all back in the fourth quarter and barely win. There are a handful of these games each week where a bettor makes the correct call to pick the favorite but loses their bet anyway. Conversely, there are a few games each week where the underdog is the correct choice, yet they don’t maintain focus in the 4th quarter. As a result, the favorite is able to significantly outscore them because they gave up. So given all of these tough beats, how is it possible to win with your NBA betting on a consistent basis?

One of the first things to do when approaching a daily card is to eliminate most of the games with double digit NBA spreads. For example, Oklahoma City is going to be a double digit underdog on the road against better competition until they improve. If teams like Boston, Detroit, Utah, Houston, and the Los Angeles Lakers show up against the Thunder, then they would easily cover the large point spreads. However, it is impossible to predict how hard they will play against Oklahoma City, or how many minutes the starters will get in the 2nd half. The only time a double digit underdog is worth looking at is if that team has showed sustained progress which has gone unnoticed by the betting public. This concept is an example of the second thing to look for in an NBA card.

One of the most successful NBA handicapping strategies is to find teams which are riding point spread winning or losing streaks when you make your NBA picks. These are a number of reasons for a change in these team’s performances. They could include injuries, line-up changes, trades, development of young players, scheduling, etc. One of the most recent examples of this concept is the San Antonio Spurs. Everyone assumed that they would collapse with both Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker out due to injury. Oddsmakers significantly reduced the price of the Spurs as a result. Coach Greg Popovich had his team play a slow down half-court offense and very tough defense, which has resulted in his team vastly outperforming expectations. San Antonio has gone 6-2 against the spread since Parker’s injury, and they still have point spread value until oddsmakers fully adjust. Noticing small winning/losing point spread streaks is essential to successful NBA handicapping.

Another thing to look for when approaching a daily NBA card is the games featuring point spreads of 4 points or less, particularly if they feature two of the better teams in the league. Looking at games with small point spreads mean that all that is needed to win a wager is selecting the winning team. Occasionally these games do come down to the wire, but they also are easier to handicap because one side is much more obvious than games with larger point spreads. Games with two good teams are excellent to handicap because both teams will bring maximum effort. A quality team with a strong home court advantage is going to want to blowout their opponent much more than the worst teams in the league. Utah was an excellent example of this concept last season, as they hammered several top teams by margin at home. Focusing on games with small spreads, specifically when they feature two good opponents is a great long term NBA handicapping strategy.

Using these three handicapping theories when analyzing a daily NBA card will lead to long-term success. The NBA is the hardest professional sport to handicap, so it is essential to use solid fundamentals and strategies.

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