How Not To Suck At NBA Betting

Part 4: Pick Your Spots


As a new NBA bettor, you also should remind yourself you don’t have to bet on every game (or every slate of games) just because you can.

Is it fun to bet on a Memphis-Washington game in mid-February and watch Ja Morant light up Capital One Arena with his first career triple double? Yes indeed.

Is it the most predictable (or profitable) spot you can find for your NBA bets? Likely not. On to some specific tips and tricks that you can pick and choose to add to your overall NBA betting repertoire.

Be a travel agent

An NBA regular season requires teams to travel between 30,000 and 50,000 miles to and from their 41 road games (and, in some cases, international games).

The team-by-team “miles traveled” summary for 2020 was outlined on Twitter here courtesy of @edkupfer:

Granted, NBA teams travel more comfortably than you or I might in a coach middle-seat from Newark to Detroit; however, extensive travel does take its toll on the body and sleep patterns.

A team’s road schedule can have a definite impact on its on-court performance. Travel through multiple time zones, early morning arrivals with a game later at night … all will impact what happens in the game later in the evening.

ESPN published a great feature on the impact of sleep deprivation on NBA players. It’s a serious issue and is yet another factor that needs to be considered in your NBA game analyses.

You don’t have to go too in-depth on it. But you should always remember that road travel takes its toll.

Home-court advantage is also most meaningful in the NBA, where home teams win about 60% of the time during the regular season and 65% of the time in the playoffs.

Find your spot

An NBA season provides plenty of opportunities to get a betting edge or angle; you just need a keen eye to identify them. The most obvious is road travel, as outlined above. Some other situations to look for:

nba betting tips1. Flat spots

Games where a team isn’t likely to be motivated to put its best game out on the court. This is either because the players don’t respect the opponent or because they’ve recently played several high-intensity games.

Often teams in the middle of a stretch against high-quality teams will not play as hard when faced with a lesser opponent. Who those “lesser” opponents are vary from season to season, but it’s a pretty safe bet in 2020 that not many teams are getting amped to play the Steph-and-Klay-less Warriors.

That can lead to a few surprises (Golden State has to wins some games), but it can lead you to some solid, easy betting wins.

2. “Look ahead” games

Comparable to a flat spot, look ahead games are games just before a significant or challenging game for the team in question. Players focusing on the next “big” game will often overlook their current opponent and play below their best.

You’ve seen this play out in sports a million times; you just need to watch for it and seize the opportunity if you see it shaping up that way (more on this in the “In Game Betting” article coming up).

nba revenge games3. Revenge games

Games where a team has greater motivation than its opponent and plays above its typical power ranking. You can look for these in cases where a team got blown out at home and then faces a team later in the season on the road.

These don’t always pan out (some teams are just better than others, or have a team’s number), but there are teams that can be motivated to play for pride after a poor showing.

An example of a “revenge game” from last year occurred after an early-season game between the Celtics and Nuggets. I bet the Celtics in the rematch game in March; unfortunately, no revenge was to be had for the Celtics as the Nuggets won this game as well.

4. Home team down 0-2 in a playoff series

An example of a “home-run spot.” Historically teams at home that are down 0-2 in the playoffs play as if their lives depend on it, especially at home where their fans feel the desperation and the need to encourage their team.

The motivation for them to win — and save their season — is much higher than for their opponents, and these teams typically play above their expected performance.

nba betting mlk unders5. Bonus example: MLK Day unders

One personal angle that I had some success with last year is betting the under total points in the first quarter of NBA afternoon games.

It’s an angle to keep in mind with particularly heavy schedules on Christmas Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While the teams generally get pumped up for the exposure of a holiday game, usually both teams start sluggishly. Sometimes, it takes until the second quarter for teams to hit their stride.

This year’s NBA schedule featured five games on Christmas Day and 14 games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was Jan. 20.

Nine of the 14 MLK games started at 5 p.m. or earlier.

Here’s the ticket I played (and cashed) on MLK Day last year using the “first quarter under angle” into a five-team parlay:

Next Up: Assess the Situation(s)