If you’re betting on NBA games on a regular basis, you’re probably making some mistakes. Some errors are more costly than others, but every sports bettor does it. The key is to learn from them so you don’t make the same slip-ups in the future.
Here’s a list of seven mistakes I see NBA bettors make every day. Use this list to help you avoid making the same miscalculations, which is going to help you increase your profit in the long run.
1 – Ignoring Back-to-Back Declines
Most NBA bettors should know about the influence that back-to-back games have on teams, because I’ve personally come across it hundreds of times. But I see bettors make the mistake of ignoring this advice every day. You have to learn how to evaluate teams playing the second game of a back to back if you want to be a winning NBA bettor.
Basketball is a game that requires a high level of skill. You’re trying to put a round ball through a round hole that’s not much bigger than the ball. This means that a shot made from 10 or 20 or more feet away that’s off by a half inch can be the difference between scoring and missing.
Fatigued players also get fewer steals, turn the ball over more, and get fewer blocks. They also tend to foul more often. All of these things come into play on the second game of a back-to-back schedule. While each individual play doesn’t seem like much, they can quickly add up to a big difference in a game. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring back-to-back games affecting player performances.
2 – Betting on the Point Spread on Big Favorites
Over the years, I’ve learned not to bet on the favorite in the NBA if the line is big. I know that when a dominant team is facing a weak team, the favorite is likely to win, and they’re likely to win by a lot. But there are too many things that can happen to make the final score closer than it should be to make these profitable long-term bets.
NBA Point Spread Example
|Los Angeles Lakers||-15.5 (-105)|
|Chicago Bulls||+15.5 (-115)|
The most important thing you need to learn about betting on NBA games is that the coaches and players don’t care about the point spread. Coaches get paid to win games, not on how much they win games by. The players want to put up points and stats, but the best players get more rest when their team is up by a large margin.
I’ve seen far too many of these games where the favorite gets a big lead then coasts to the win. The other team scores a bunch of points when the game is out of reach, making the final score much closer than it should be.
The bottom line is that these games are simply too unpredictable to make a long-term profit on.
3 – Overestimating Rookie Contributions
Every year, there are a few NBA rookies who make a big impact on the league and their teams. But most rookies struggle to play consistently from game to game.
The NBA game is faster and bigger than college, so even the best players coming into the league struggle because they’re not the best player on the court every night. And even if they are the best player, the other team doesn’t have as many weak spots as they’re used to seeing.
Bettors tend to focus on scoring more than anything else, and rookie scoring is volatile. A rookie can look like a star one night and put up 20 or 30 points, then struggle to get 10 points the next game. Rookies are hard to handicap for scoring purposes.
The places where the top rookies can show some consistency include rebounding and on the defensive end of the court. Here’s a tip that I use when evaluating rookies that are good defensive players.
I look for teams that put their best rookie defenders on the top scorers on the opposing team. These rookies usually can’t stop the best scorers, but when they’re facing a team without a great shooter, they can influence the game more.
I don’t give the rookie much credit when he’s facing a great scorer, but if he can keep up with the top scorers, he has a good chance to be valuable against the second tier of scorers.
If you like to bet on these basketball players while they’re still in college, check out this page on 7 mistakes college basketball bettors make everyday to avoid making any betting mistakes.
4 – Not Separating Offensive and Defensive Rebounding
Rebounding is an important statistic for evaluating NBA games, but it’s even more important to separate offensive and defensive rebounding. Every offensive rebound gives the team another possession and another chance to score. Every defensive rebound stops a possession without a score and starts the next possession for the team getting the rebound.
Both offensive and defensive rebounds are important, and you need to consider both when you’re evaluating games. But you need to use offensive rebounding more than most handicappers. Offensive rebounding is one of the most important things a team can do to improve their chance to win, and some teams are much better at it than others.
One of the surprising things you’re going to find when tracking offensive rebounds separately from defensive rebounds is that some guards are exceptionally good at reading shots and getting long offensive rebounds. The same guards might not get many defensive rebounds, but they make a big difference when they work on the offensive glass.
5 – Ignoring Possessions per Game
Tracking the average number of possessions a team gets on offense and allows on defense is a good way to judge how slow or fast teams play. This might not seem important, but it’s particularly helpful when you’re considering the over and under lines.
In the same game, teams alternate possessions so the total for each team is either close or the same. But each team has their own possession average that you should be using when evaluating games. This is useful when you’re comparing two teams, because two teams that have a high number of average possessions tend to score a lot of points when they meet.
As you start tracking the number of possessions, you start getting a feel for how to evaluate these matchups. You can use historical numbers to get an idea, but some teams are better than others about keeping the game tempo up.
6 – Failing to Factor in East Coast and West Coast Issues
You have to consider two different things about east coast and west coast issues when you’re betting on the NBA. The first thing is bias, and the second thing is long distance travel.
Teams on the coast tend to have a bias when it comes to public betting. Teams in Los Angeles, Boston, and the New York area tend to have a bigger fan base than teams in Indiana and Dallas. This is important to understand because bias can move lines. When you see a line that’s moved because of bias, you can often find value on the other side of the game.
Most professional teams have a problem when they travel to play from one coast to the other. The time zone changes, and extended travel creates issues with performance. If you’re not tracking how teams that go from one coast to the other are performing, you need to start doing it right now.
7 – Placing Wagers Too Early
The best time to place NBA wagers is a few minutes before tipoff. You have access to late breaking news on television and online, and you need to take advantage of it. Few things are worse for an NBA bettor than placing a big bet and finding out the best player on the team you bet on is a late scratch.
It takes a lot of work to be a winning NBA bettor, and you’re going to make plenty of mistakes. If you learn from your mistakes and correct them, it’s going to help you win in the future.
You can also improve your NBA handicapping by learning from mistakes that others make. Learn from these seven mistakes that NBA bettors make all of the time.