Is there a West Coast Bias in NBA Oddsmaking
We've reached the halfway point of the NBA season. What's very interesting to me as I study the ATS records so far is that all the best performances against the spread have come from Eastern Conference teams.
NBA's Best ATS Records
Brad Stevens continues to get his teams to perform better than expectations, something he became famous for during March Madness in his days at Butler. The market assumed disaster when Gordon Hayward was lost for the regular season with a broken leg. Instead, the Celtics are still dominating the race for a #1 seed with a 33-10 straight up record.
Those other three teams? You barely hear about them! Chicago only started making headlines a few weeks ago when they went from "worst in the league" to "hottest in the league" in a finger snap.
Even though ESPN is based in Connecticut, and TNT is based in Atlanta, the mainstream media has been devoting the bulk of its coverage to the Western Conference. People bet what they see on TV. Because the West is presented as the elite of the NBA, it's very hard for any team to put together a great run against the spread. The numbers are just too high.
Believe it or not, the BEST record ATS in the West is just 22-18-1. That belongs to the San Antonio Spurs...another team that has consistently beat the number over the years because of a great head coach.
You regulars know I devote most of my basketball attention to the colleges. That's my favorite sport to handicap and bet. But, I do pay attention to the NBA, particularly younger teams who are loaded with players I watched at the college level. It's great to see a college coach like Stevens immediately become one of the best in the NBA the moment he was hired. Here are some quick tips for handicapping this season's NBA based on my discussions with pro bettors here in Las Vegas.
*Fade Cleveland at home until they start covering! The Cavs are just 3-15 against the spread at home this season. The spreads are too high. This team always paces itself for the playoffs. And, the defense is so bad that they can't hold onto big leads if they get one. If the lines ever come down, you'll have to reconsider. For now, it's too big an ask of this roster to win by double digits all the time at home. I know a few sharps who have considered this "free money" since the start of the season. Not a hard thing to see coming.
*Look for young teams who are trying to prove themselves. Chicago was a great example for awhile, but the line finally caught up around New Year's. That cats out of the bag. Look for some other cats! Remember, last season, the Miami Heat cashed tickets for WEEKS because they were trying harder than everyone else. Look for this year's version of that phenomenon. If the elite teams are pacing themselves, and the worst teams are thinking about tanking for the draft, there's a sweet spot in the middle where hustling teams playing for smart coaches will cash will make you some money.
*Don't forget about totals! In some seasons, Over/Unders are softer because the majority of the market is so focused on team sides. If you pay attention to personnel changes, or adjustments in pace dictated by head coaches, you can pocket a few tickets before everyone else notices. While the quants do a good job shaping the Over/Under market, the math guys can be slow to respond to personnel or pace changes.
What you shouldn't do is bet all the big-name Western Conference teams just because you like rooting for them on television. Not only are the hurdles too high for those teams to cover consistently...but the juice will eat you up if you do that a lot. It's easy in a daily sport like basketball (pro or college) to think a sustained 50/50 stretch on your leans or TV "fun" bets is no harm no foul. A month goes by, and going 30-29 on your leans as cost you a couple of bets in vigorish (real record, 30 wins and 31.9 losses). There's still half a season to go! Don't bury yourself in needless action.
We're down to the last seven games of the football season, so we'll talk more basketball in the coming weeks on the way to March Madness. Most of our discussions will be about the colleges. Wanted to spend one day on the NBA here at the midway point of the season. Tomorrow, we'll look at how sharps have been betting the four divisional round games in this weekend's NFL Playoffs. That's Atlanta at Philadelphia, Tennessee at New England, Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, and New Orleans at Minnesota.
I have a lot on tap this weekend in both football and basketball. You can purchase my BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure you ask about combination packages for all picks through the Super Bowl or through March Madness when you call.
Thanks for reading. I'll see you again Friday around lunch time to cover Wise Guy betting in this weekend's NFL. See you then.
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