Market Continues to Miss NBA Reality



I think there's a general consensus from fans and media that the pointspreads have been fairly TERRIBLE when it comes to expressing the true differences between teams lately in the NBA playoffs.

I talked about this some the other day. Since then...Orlando continued CRUSHING Atlanta by more than the spread...Phoenix finished off its dominating sweep of San Antonio...and even Los Angeles lifted its game to cover easily in the two games at Utah.

Not only were the reads on the teams wrong. But, the reads on the "situation" were wrong too. Teams in position to "finish off a sweep" have been doing that very convincingly in recent years. Yet, in that situation, Phoenix was +4, the Lakers were +3½, and Orlando was only -6 in a series where they were winning every game by double digits. GIFTS!

Who's to blame?

Oddsmakers will say it's not them. I've noticed this for a long time. And, maybe sometimes I'm a bit guilty of it myself. Human nature. If the media is asking an oddsmaker why he has a pointspread at a certain place, he'll talk about the differences between the teams, the differences in his Power Ratings, and basically express that the spread represents the true differential (after its' adjusted for home court).

But, after some spreads have missed by a mile, oddsmakers then say that the numbers are based on betting action...and aren't "predictions" of the games. They're a reaction to money rather than the teams themselves.

Oddsmakers like to have it both ways! We're experts at evaluating the teams. If the numbers aren't matching reality, it's not our fault because dumb bettors are putting their money in the wrong places.

The market prices are a function of several factors:

  • What oddsmakers think about the teams
  • What oddsmakers expect in terms of betting patterns
  • What sharps think about the teams
  • What squares think about the teams
  • How oddsmakers and sharps try to exploit squares
  • How oddsmakers and sharps battle each other if squares aren't betting

All of that adds up to a "widely available" line late in the process that reflects the full picture. Whenever reality isn't matching THOSE numbers, it's generally a miss by EVERYBODY.

Oddsmakers didn't realize Orlando was that much better than Atlanta. Sharps didn't either. Squares aren't betting much pro basketball relative to the past. Those who are have been more focused on the games involving Kobe and LeBron. It all added up to pointspreads that look pretty insane in retrospect.

Was there ever a point Monday Night where "Orlando -6" felt like the right line in that game? Orlando jumped way ahead early and coasted. Sure, Atlanta made a run or two. But, the game was a continuation of a dominant series.

How about Utah -3½ over the Lakers in the TV nightcap? The Lakers took control early, and a Utah cover never felt like it had a chance. It ended up being a line that was completely detached from the reality of the night.

San Antonio -4 back on Sunday? Steve Nash had his eye bashed shut, yet Phoenix still felt like the true favorite most of the evening.

Ultimately, I think that these were the key influences that kept the lines so far away from reality:

  • Few could believe that Orlando was THAT much better than Atlanta. Nobody could believe their own eyes, so they went back to Power Ratings and statistics to assume a regression to the mean that was never going to happen.
  • Few could believe that Phoenix was ready to step up and control San Antonio to the degree they did. Sure, the Suns can play well when they're hot. They're not known for consistency. People bet on inconsistency and it didn't happen.
  • Many bettors (sharp and square) were anticipating "play for pride" efforts from Utah and San Antonio that just didn't happen. There was money being bet on San Antonio -4 and Utah -3½, as bad as those bets look now. How can you blame oddsmakers for their lines when there was support for the losing teams at those numbers? If there were oddsmakers who truly believed that Lakers -2 or Phoenix -1 made more sense, their employers would have been flooded with one-sided action.

The good news for YOU is that it's a player's market right now if you know how to evaluate NBA teams properly. This happens often in pro basketball for some reason. We saw it last year when Cleveland was a HUGE false favorite over Orlando in the Eastern finals. You may remember that the Lakers had big betting support in the finals two years ago when they lost to Boston. When market perceptions begin off track, there isn't time to get them on track.

How many games would it have taken for Phoenix to be -8 at home and -2 on the road? Or, Orlando -15 at home and -8 on the road? Or, any road team in a "clincher" game to be properly priced?

Get to work! The money is there to be won!

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Every so often the market gets out of kilter. The complicated mix of influences can usually be logically explained if you break things down piece by piece. I'm an expert on every piece! And that's why you can be sure that the best information will always come to you DIRECT FROM NEVADA!


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