Why Gambling on the NBA is No Free-Throw (Part 2)

Basketball Feb 28, 2021


Despite many challenges that make NBA games tough to predict, there are ways to make a profit.

I recommend three areas of focus for NBA bettors.

This is especially true with totals betting. Sports betting guides and Internet websites post many trends and angles, which are useful in handicapping. For instance, one of the most profitable angles in recent years (before it was discovered and widely reported) was to bet under the total when one team was coming off a road game at either Utah or Denver. Apparently, it was difficult for many teams to adjust to the altitude change in the next game, and those games were low-scoring affairs. Oddsmakers eventually caught on, and the edge vanished. But there are others out there that can be profitable.

Bet Halftimes (also called Second Halves) and In-Game Wagers

Sixty percent of all my NBA bets are halftime wagers or in-game wagers. I like seeing an entire half of basketball and then being able to decide which team is dominating inside, or which team is getting lots of calls from the officials and is (falsely) ahead because of free throws, or which team might have a key player in foul trouble. Second halves do not necessarily mirror the first half, but it’s clearly advantageous to have seen the two teams play a half of basketball, rather than blindly speculating on what might happen during the pregame warm-ups.

Bet Moneylines (especially dogs)

This is the most important advice in this column. Moneyline odds are often inflated and provide outstanding value. Consider last year’s NBA finals when the Detroit Pistons were a huge moneyline underdog to the always-overhyped Los Angeles Lakers. Best of all, moneyline prices are adjusted in “series” bets, so you have options to hedge later and lock up a profit. Furthermore I find it wise to just play a solid underdog to win the game outright, getting a nice inflated bonus price, rather than placing an even-money bet with the points. Concentrate on the so-called live dogs, teams you think are capable of wining the game outright. Bet them on the moneyline.

4 NBA Betting Tips

  1. Bet against teams that shot 10 percent higher than their season average in the previous game, especially in games played the following night. We are taking advantage of teams that played over their heads in the last game and now have to come into a new environment and try and recapture the momentum. This rarely happens. Teams rarely shoot 50 percent and above in back-to-back games.
  2. Bet against teams that played their starters 40-plus minutes in previous game, especially in games played the following night. The reasoning behind this betting tip is pretty obvious. Starters played more minutes than usual in the previous game and get fatigued when they play the next night. Most box scores list “minutes played” for all players.
  3. In halftime betting, look for games that are blowouts in first half to go over in second half. What happens is, both defenses get lazy in these situations, where one team is ahead by double digits. The losing team often picks up the pace to try and get back in the game and the winning team plays in a more relaxed manner, usually leading to more points.
  4. Bet against teams where an injured player is returning to the starting lineup after a long layoff, now back for the first game. Since there are only five players on the court, any single player who is not “in synch” with his teammates creates a lack of chemistry. Some teams and players have natural chemistry between them. Others do not. Any player who has been inactive with the team in recent games can create defensive breakdowns and offensive inconsistency. Interestingly enough, the bigger the star returning, the better this angle works, since the betting public frequently overreacts to the return of the star player.

Hope this advice is useful and helpful.  It's served me well for many years.