Five Tips to Betting the NBA

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Five Tips to Betting the NBA

The NBA remains popular among sports bettors despite there being no other sport that can cause you to want to bang your head against the wall so much. Teams can look unbeatable one night and totally stink up the arena the next.

The fact that it's played every day has something to do with its popularity, yet that also is a reason for its unpredictability. With such a long season, teams are going to have ups-and-downs, highs and lows, but some of them can be predicted, which gives bettors one advantage when it comes to betting the sport.


We'll look at several basics in this article, which can help you during the upcoming season.

Don't Underestimate Home Court Advantage

Even though most bettors will typically give the home team three or four points when trying to predict the outcome, the home court in the NBA may be worth more than that.

Looking at the 2009-10 season, among playoff teams the combined home record was 476-180, while the same teams on the road were 347-309. Non-playoff teams were 255-319 at home and just 152-422 on the road.

There are always teams that are capable of playing fair at home, such as the Clippers, who were 21-20 in front of the home fans, but just 8-33 away from home and the two worst teams in the league, New Jersey and Minnesota, both won twice as many home games as away games.

Expect the Unexpected, Unless You're Expecting It

Already this season, we've seen a few "odd" occurrences, such as the Boston Celtics defeating Miami at home and then going on the road to lowly Cleveland the following night and losing to the Cavs.
A similar situation occurred with Portland defeating Phoenix and going to face the Clippers the next night. The Clippers were an extremely popular play among sports services which were counting on a Portland letdown, so naturally the Trail Blazers cruised to the win.

Differentiate Between Home and Away Performances

Last year's Dallas Mavericks team was a rare squad that played equally as good on the road as they did at home, going 28-14 at home and 27-14 away from Dallas.
As a result, their point spread record was drastically different, as Dallas won fewer games at home than expected of a .671 team and more on the road. At home, the Mavs were a dismal 10-31 against the spread, but a solid 26-15 as visitors.

As we saw with the home court advantage heading, a team like the Clippers were .500 against the spread at home, but just 15-25 against the spread on the road.

Differentiate Between Home and Away Scoring

Closely related to the heading above, this one is more concerned with totals, but will also give you additional insight into straight point spread betting, as well. If we look at the Dallas Mavericks, who we mentioned above as being a poor home team against the spread and a strong road team against the number, we'll see they averaged 101 points and allowed 98, both home and away, which is the main reason for their spread record.

A team like Orlando saw an average score of 105-94 at home and 99-97 for away games, which is typically closer to scoring averages for top-tier teams, although the Celtics were an exception last year, actually having a larger winning margin away from home. As a result, Boston was 12-28 against the spread at home and 21-20 on the road.


Getting to totals, teams like Boston and Denver saw their home games average five or more points than their road games, while a team like Memphis saw their home games average 200 points and their road games average 208.

Naturally, this will affect a team's performance against the over/under number, as Boston was 22-18 to the over at home and 18-22 away from home, while Denver was 22-19 to the over at home and 16-25 on the road.

Likewise, Memphis was 19-22 to the over at home and 26-14 on the road.

Look For Overvalued and Undervalued Teams

There are simply some teams that are going to be overvalued each season and others that will fly under the radar. The overvalued teams are usually pretty easy to guess. Last year it would have Boston, Cleveland and the Lakers.

Last year those three teams combined to go 104-137 against the spread even though they were three of the best teams in the league.

This year I would expect more of the same, except replace Cleveland with Miami.

Undervalued teams are always a bit harder to predict, but Milwaukee and Oklahoma City would be two good examples and not surprisingly, both posted solid numbers against the line. It is unlikely that they will be undervalued once again.

Cleveland may actually fall into the undervalued list this season and Sacramento is another team I'd give a look to. One or two others are likely to pop up in the early going and should be given some consideration.

There is no magic formula for winning at the NBA, but you can increase your chances by doing a bit of homework before placing your wagers.