-Sense of Urgency: How important is this game to each team? With 82 game seasons, you simply can’t be motivated to play all 82 games like they are game 7 of the NBA finals. Depending on various circumstances, some teams may come out with less hunger for victory. If a team that is viewed as a playoff contender is struggling over the last few games, I tend to watch them a bit closer to see if and when it could be time for a major turnaround. The San Antonio Spurs are a great example of that in my opinion.
The Spurs are at the Washington Wizards tonight, and are favored by 2.5 points (-2.5) on Bovada at this moment in time around 12:30PM ET. The Spurs last played Monday at Dallas while the Wizards last played Sunday at Orlando.
The Spurs are 5-9, 1-5 on the road, while the Wizards are 3-8, with a 1-3 home record. First thing we can see is that the Spurs have played 3 more games already. That can be a good thing, and a bad thing, to a certain extent, depending on how you look at it. On one side, with a few more games under their belt, you could argue the Spurs have better team chemistry on the court and could be in a slightly better rhythm. On the other end, having played more games, there are simply more chances to get nicked up and bruised, the health of the team could be less than optimal compared to the Wizards. Point blank, this is a game the Spurs have to win. This is a team that makes the playoffs every season and wins 50+ a year in their sleep. The Wizards know they are not making any noise this season so the desperation factor will not quite be as high for them in my opinion, but I certainly don’t expect it to be a cakewalk for the Spurs. When I evaluate two teams I have gotten into the habit of writing out each starting lineup and bench rotation side by side, making adjustments throughout the day depending on injury updates. From a roster and coaching standpoint, I think the Spurs have the clear advantage. Gregg Popovich is one of the best to ever do it and they come into this game relatively healthy for the most part. The Wizards are of course without their star guard, John Wall, for what looks to be the entire year. Bradley Beal has to carry this team and hope for random contributors to chip in every night to even compete, let alone bring home a W. This roster has not played together consistently enough for me to believe this team can put together enough offensive production against a desperate Spurs team to lose by less than a 3 point field goal. The Spurs will be without their backup point guard, Derrick White, for this game, but I don’t believe that has a major impact on this game considering Patty Mills is still alive and well. The Spurs bench even without White is the better unit and has great familiarity at the very least. The Wizards started Isaac Bonga and Ish Smith for the first few games of the season before turning to Isaiah Thomas and Troy Brown Jr. Switching up the starting lineup along with adding a bench contributor to the rotation off of injury in CJ Miles has got the Wizards still working to find their way as a team, which often leads to inconsistent play on both ends. Factoring in the general lack of overall talent outside of Bradley Beal, this one doesn’t look good for the Wiz Kids. These two teams have actually played already, with the Spurs winning a close one at home by 2 points. In that game, Davis Bertans came off the bench against his former team to go 7-7 shooting, 5-5 from 3, to score a whopping 23 points in what was almost sweet revenge (that’s another factor, some players want revenge on their former teams!). So, is Bertans going to go off on his former team again? Or is another supporting cast member going to step up and help Beal out? I’m betting against that. And I’m betting that a desperate Spurs team coming off a day of rest will be wanting to get back to their winning ways as they try to put themselves in position to return to the playoffs. You have to pick your spots when taking road favorites, and I think this is a great spot for the Spurs @ -2.5.
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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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