Betting on the NBA, especially in the regular season, is one of the more difficult things to do in sports. When something that most people take for granted, like motivation, is questioned on a nightly basis, deciding who to bet on is an art as much as a science.
Commonly-held beliefs might be logical, but they’re also working against some of the bettors relying on NBA action to pad their bankroll. The good news is this may set up more “fade the public” situations.
In this article, I’ll lay out some tips for betting on the NBA that don’t get the attention they deserve.
1 – Back-to-Back Theories
If you’ve ever read about betting tricks for the NBA, or even just casually asked a friend, it’s likely that you’ve come across the back-to-back issue. Yes, teams in the NBA to play games on consecutive nights (although it’s happening less frequently). No, this does not mean that you should always take their opponent in the second game of a back-to-back.
My contention is not that teams on the second night of a back-to-back are just as good as they are on a couple days of rest. However, I am confident that they’re not nearly as bad as most people make them out to be.
Gamblers in general have become hyper-aware of these scenarios, and for some reason, thinks this gives them an advantage over the house and other gamblers.
Sportsbooks don’t just set lines based on what they think the outcome is going to be. They take into account the biases that bettors have. In the NBA, no such bias is as strong as the one that states a team on its second night of a back-to-back is nearly hopeless. That’s hyperbole, but not far off from the truth.
Instead of thinking you have some groundbreaking revelation, realize you have a great opportunity to go the other way. In my opinion, the team on the back-end of consecutive games is one of the best value plays available in the sport.
I understand that it would stand to reason playing two nights in a row is tough – and there’s no denying that it is. Just be sure you don’t overestimate the impact it has on the game. Fading the public isn’t always the right move, but in this situation it can have some real benefits.
2 – Recognize the Impact of Role Players
Before placing a bet on any sporting event you should be checking out the injury report. Upon getting the information about who’s available, it’s important to make a smart decision based on what you know. All too often, bettors tend to place too much significance on role players being out.
Increasingly, the NBA is becoming a league where the top two or three players on a team determine what the outcome of the season will be. It certainly helps to have more than two all-stars, but most teams simply just don’t have the depth, or the cash, depending on the contract situation.
It makes sense why teams would spend a massive amount of their payroll on only a couple players – it’s the formula for winning.
After checking an injury report before you place a bet, you might discover that a team’s back up shooting guard or late-game defensive stopper is out. Make no mistake about it – I’m not saying that these don’t have an impact on the outcome of the game. I’m only saying that you need to be smart in recognizing just how big of an impact it will be.
For example, if you were going to take the Bulls on a -110 moneyline but find out the fourth-leading scorer on the team is going to be out, that’s probably not going to affect the game enough to swing things the other way.
Unlike when gambling at a casino, sports bettors take pride in finding the insider information that gives them an edge over the house. Unfortunately, this means that they tend to over-value the information they have because it makes them feel, for lack of a better word, superior.
The bottom line is that if a team’s number one and number two scorers are going to be playing, it’s probably wise to still bet the same way you would regardless of who else might be out. In fact, you may even be able to pick up a little extra value along the way.
3 – Home Court Disadvantage
If there’s any consistent them in this article, it’s recognizing the importance of not overvaluing things just because it seems logical. In this case, I’ll present the idea of home court advantage.
The key to using this as an indicator to help you make educated sports bets is that you need to find the teams who’s home advantage doesn’t match up to the value Vegas (or other bettors) are giving it.
For example, if you can find a team who performs poorly at home, taking the visiting team with the points might be a great method for choosing underdogs.
Keep in mind that this situation is only going to apply to a few teams across the league. By and large most clubs are going to play much better at home. The trick is finding the handful that don’t and taking advantage of the opportunity to bet the other way.
4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Play the Underdogs
Full disclosure – I’m probably a bigger proponent of betting on big underdogs in the NBA than most people. It’s not even necessarily a well-thought-out strategy, I just simply believe that on a random Tuesday night, any NBA team can win or lose.
It’s a reality in the NBA that players take nights off. Sometimes that means they literally don’t play, but other times it means they just aren’t going to be playing at 100% capacity in an effort to save their bodies for more important games.
If you find a game where a bottom-five team is matched up against a top-five team in the middle of the week, take a flyer on the moneyline if it gets around the +400 mark. Don’t believe me? Go back and look at the schedules.
The best teams in the league lose roughly 25-30 games per year. While some of these losses are matchups with good teams, others are just throwaway mid-week games that were essentially nights off.
If you’re a fan of betting for value, going with big underdogs in the NBA can be one way to take advantage of the odds. More often than not you’re going to lose, but over time the wins should outweigh the losses in terms of money made.
5 – Prop Up
Many betting experts would say that prop bets are an easy way to lose money. I get the logic – the odds are typically not calculated in a way that’s favorable to the public.
With that being said, if you follow one player closely enough you can get somewhat of a feel for how they’ll perform on a given night. Remember, you aren’t necessarily competing against the house, but rather other bettors who move the lines.
My advice would be to find one second-tier player, a number two on a good team, and follow him closely throughout the season. Prop bets that deal with rebounds and assists are almost impossible to predict, but overall scoring is easier.
Prop bets shouldn’t be the main part of your NBA betting strategy, but if you can make a little extra money by winning 60% of them, it’s worth incorporating.
“Fade the public” is a common saying amongst bettors, but rarely do they take their own advice. I’ve laid out a few tips that support this theory, and encourage everyone to try it for themselves.
Looking at things counterintuitively can yield tremendous betting results simply because the house is banking on you following in line with everyone else.