How to Handicap the NBA

Tired of consistently losing on your NBA bets? There may be a few things you have been forgetting to factor in when you decide which team you place your bet on. The NBA is one of the most difficult sports to handicap of them all, as you just never know when a team is going to show up and when they are going to lay down and not play up to their talent. Here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful when betting the NBA.

Days Rest

This is probably one of the biggest factors that people tend to over look. The NBA isn’t like college where teams play just a couple games a week. The schedule doesn’t give teams more than a few days off and many times will force them to play on back-to-back nights. This is where you can really take advantage of the odds. Even the top teams lose games they aren’t suppose to, and many times its because they just don’t have the energy. Because the public usually over looks this factor, oddsmakers can continue to put large lines on the teams with the best records even when they are  playing say there fourth game in five days, and still get plenty of action on them, even though they know there is a good chance they will struggle to win or lose the game outright.

Also watch for teams playing on back-to-back nights. More times than not the team playing the second game of a back-to-back will be the road team, as the NBA tries to keep road trips as short as they can. Betting the home team in this situation can be very profitable, but be aware that this trend doesn’t tend to be as effective early on in the season when players are fresh.


If you are going to be a successful handicapper in any sport, you have to keep up with the latest injury reports for any game you are thinking about placing a bet on.  Because teams play so frequently it can be hard to keep track of when a player is going to sit out, but  waiting to make sure you know who is going to play, can be the difference in winning and losing money.

Injuries will have the biggest effect right after they happen. Teams who lose a key player will take some time to adjust to not having that player in the lineup, as they will have to adjust their rotations, but overtime teams will learn to play without someone.  Getting players back from an injury can also have an effect on how teams play, as they now must once again adjust their rotations and players will have to take on different roles. So just because a team gets a star player back from injury, doesn’t mean they are going to win the next time out.

Trades/Player Movement

This is very similar to how injuries can effect a team. Many NBA teams have a foundation of players that have played together and really know how to work together on the court. When you take players away and add others, it will many times have a negative effect on how the team plays for a few games, even if it appears the team is better off after making the trade. This can be very profitable when handicapping the NBA as you can make some good money going against teams who recently made big adjustments to their roster. Just look at how long it took Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh to start playing well together in their first season in Miami. This also creates an opportunity to make money on the team after they have had some time to learn how to play together, as they will be very undervalued for awhile until the public starts to take notice of their improvements.


Using statistics has become very popular among handicappers of all sports, but without taking into account the factors listed above, you likely won’t see much of an improvement in your betting results. Trends can be very useful, but at the same time very misleading. Covers offers free trends for every NBA game, but they key is figuring out which trends apply, and which ones don’t. If you were to just look at the trends for a team, without looking at injuries or days rest you will end up making a lot of bad bets. Betting a trend that says a team is 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games at home this season may seem like a good bet, but if they just lost one of their best defenders or top scorers, than this statistic is irrelevant because that trend is based on having that player in the lineup.

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