Against the Spread-NBA

When I go on Bovada or any other gambling website to take a look at the against-the-spread (ATS) lines for the NBA, what exactly am I looking for? What goes into my decision-making process when I decide that I want to bet $1,100 on the Pelicans -3 to beat the Blazers by 4 or more points?

  1. First things first, you need to actually watch the basketball games. That seems obvious, but it can’t be overstated. If all you do is look at the Win/Loss records of each team and make decisions based on that… probably not the best idea. But that’s a very simple example of how Vegas makes money. Watching the games provides context that boxscores simply cannot.
  2. Now that you watch the games, you’ve probably become pretty familiar with all the players in the NBA, which is crucial, because (drumroll please)… injuries. Depending on the night, certain players in the NBA are being rested on a regular basis to preserve their bodies for the long haul. When I read injury news what I do is see how that impacts the starting lineup and the bench rotations. An example from last night, the Pelicans were without their starting point guard (Lonzo Ball), starting and backup centers (Favors and Okafor), backup guard (Josh Hart), and of course, Zion Williamson. So if you just read all that information and nothing else, what on earth would make anybody think it would be worth riding $1,100 dollars on?
  3. For starters, before we evaluate the Blazers, home court advantage is a big deal. I don’t have the numbers readily available, but plain and simple, teams usually play better at home. I repeat: TEAMS USUALLY PLAY BETTER AT HOME. Don’t ever forget that. That doesn’t mean bad teams win every home game, but based on my experience over the years, if you are going to bet on a bad team to win, at the very least you want to be betting on them in a home game. The Pelicans and other mediocre teams don’t necessarily have great home court advantages at the moment in terms of fan support, but just having the familiarity with the basketball hoops they’ll be shooting at and even just simply waking up in your own bed the morning before a game are factors that can’t be underestimated.
  4. Which gets us into the Blazers. A very disappointing start for them. When evaluating basketball teams, you have to look at the recent schedule. You have to. Is the game home or away? When was their last game? How many games have they played in the last 5 days? Are they playing in a different time-zone? Point being, the Blazers were playing in their 2nd game of a back-to-back, on a long road trip, while the Pelicans hadn’t played since Sunday. Now, it isn’t as simple as, “Portland is on a back-to-back, that’s an automatic loss.” Much more to it, as you will see.
  5. Back to the injury department, we talked about all the guys out for the Pelicans last night, but it just so happened the Blazers were without their BEST player, in Damian Lillard. So, we have a Portland team, that was already struggling WITH their best player, now has to play a back-to-back game without him? Not only that, they just signed Carmelo Anthony off the streets and he was promptly inserted right into the starting lineup in game 1, albeit on a minutes limit. Bottom line, when your best player sits out and you add a player like a Carmelo Anthony who is a shaky volume shooter at best to the lineup, I had MAJOR concerns about team chemistry and did not believe the Blazers could possibly put up a consistent offensive effort without their go-to guy. I KNEW that they had nobody that could come close to replacing him off the bench because I watch the games and have familiarized myself with the rosters, and was able to come to a decision in a timely manner after taking all these factors into consideration.
  6. With all those factors under consideration, I felt like Pelicans -3 was a GOOD BET. Looking at the rosters, I believed that the trio of Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, and Brandon Ingram, would be enough to take down a struggling Blazers team at home, especially with the Blazers being on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, without their best player, and trying to integrate a new player into the starting lineup on top of that. The Blazers of course have also been without Nurkic and Collins for all and the majority fo the season, so of course that is already factored in.

Hope you enjoyed my ramblings, and to end this post I will add that it never hurts to evaluate your betting process, win or lose. Maybe you just simply missed a bit of information, or maybe you learn something new for next time you plan on making a bet in a similar situation. Understanding why you are winning and losing is important and I think you’ll see improvement if you scrutinize your decisions.

As always, please feel free to ask any questions related to the article in the comments section.

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