Abrams: Something for the Gamblers

(A couple weeks ago, I asked my Twitter followers whether they’d like to see a regular weekly feature on NBA gambling trends, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Since we are striving at this Web site to give you stuff you can’t get elsewhere, such as regular coverage of Euroleague, a FiveFastFacts item that can be consumed in less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee, and the enormously popular Tweet of the Day/Night, we shall now tiptoe down this road, too, and see where it leads us. Our writer goes by the handle @Betropolitan on Twitter, and I’d wager $1 that he had action on the coin flip in last Sunday’s Super Bowl. Your comments/suggestions are welcome-CS)

My manifesto: My goal each week is to deliver a myriad of trends, analysis and opinions on the NBA gambling world. Through the many different facets of sports betting, I will look to take parts of the game, including team/player analysis and game by game examples to connect my thoughts with the facts. Betting in the NBA on a night-to-night basis can be a very tedious and maddening experience, and the only way I feel comfortable handling the daily card is to research smarter, not longer, and that is what I hope to do here.

Flow Of The Game

One of the ways you can illustrate the ups and downs of the nightly NBA grind is to show an outlier example of how quickly the flow of a game can turn the perception of a spread. The NBA is known for being a game of inexplicable runs that often lead to teams getting hot at the beginnings and ends of quarters. That is one of the reasons many people say laying points in the Association is a very difficult balancing act. Here is one of my favorite examples:

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012: Charlotte Bobcats @ Los Angeles Lakers (-12)

A. 3rd Quarter…5:37 left…Bobcats 80 – Lakers 62

  • Before the 4th Quarter even started, Charlotte went on 3 separate runs with an 8+ point margin: 9-1, 11-0 and 14-4
  • The Lakers end of the 3Q run (9-0) came literally 30 game seconds after Charlotte ended their 14-4 run (29:52-30:22)

B. 4th Quarter…8:03 left…Lakers 92 – Bobcats 86

  • In 9:34 of game time, the Lakers went on a 30-6 run and turned Bobcat backers with “+12” tickets into thinking Los Angeles would end the game with a +31 point margin in the final 17:37.

C. Final Score … Lakers 101 – Bobcats 100

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Traveling schedules in the NBA always seem to be a hot button topic in the betting community; especially when you bring up back-to-backs. If you take a look at Regular Season games between 2005 and 2012 (12/7/12), teams playing in the second game of a back-to-back are 2058-2118 ATS (against the spread) (49.2%). Fading (betting against) teams in these back-to-back situations have not performed much better, hitting at just around 50% (50.7%).

In 2012, NBA teams are 146-200 SU (straight up) (42.2%) playing the second game of a back-to-back and 168-172-6 ATS (against the spread) (49.4%). A unique way of looking at back-to-backs can be by average age of certain teams. If you take a look at the five youngest and oldest teams in the NBA’s back-to-back ATS records, a pattern early in the year begins to form.

Total Record of Youngest Teams: 25-38

  • Houston Rockets (23.7 AVG. age): 7-9
  • New Orleans Hornets (24 AVG. age): 5-8
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (24.5 AVG. age): 3-12
  • Denver Nuggets (24.7 AVG. age): 4-6
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (24.8 AVG. age): 6-3

Total Record of Oldest Teams: 25-24

  • New York Knicks (31.3 AVG. age): 6-4
  • Miami Heat (29.9 AVG. age): 5-2
  • Los Angeles Clippers (29.4 AVG. age): 7-5
  • Los Angeles Lakers (28.9 AVG. age): 3-6
  • Dallas Mavericks (28.5 AVG. age): 4-7

A trend we may begin to see in the second half of the NBA season is a surge by younger teams on back-to-backs, which should bring their record closer to .500. Even if you take away the outlier of the group (Cleveland), “young” teams in the NBA would still be 22-26 ATS.

Another interesting way to look at back-to-back records is a team’s offensive and defensive statistical production. Only nine (30%) NBA teams have a positive point differential in back-to-back situations, while fourteen (46.6%) NBA teams have a positive point differential overall this season. The nine teams who have favorable numbers on back-to-backs are also 51-40-3 against the spread this season “Point Differential = (Points Per Game) – (Opponents Points Per Game)” Recorded for games up to 1/30/13.

A few individual teams whose back-to-back numbers are interesting outliers:

  • Philadelphia 76ers are 2-10 SU (38.4% of losses on back-to-backs) and 2-10 ATS
  • Toronto Raptors are 6-5 SU (35.3% of wins on back-to-backs) and 9-2 ATS
    • Raptors overall ATS win % this year (52.1) vs Raptors back-to-back ATS win % this year (81.8%)
    • Bulls, Nuggets & Nets are a combined 14-19 SU (33.3% of all losses on back-to-backs)
      • These 3 teams have the 6th, 10th and 11th best records in the NBA

One Person’s Trash Is Another Person’s Treasure
Year in and year out, the most profitable teams in the NBA betting market, usually come from teams who either barely made the playoffs or missed them altogether. The key attributes these few teams possess, are their abilities to keep games close when they shouldn’t and stay under the radar long enough to continue to be spoon-fed inflated lines.

  • In 2011-12, those teams were the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors:

  • In 2010-11, those teams were the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers:

In 2012-13, the Washington Wizards seem to be easily playing that role as the under the radar team who performs well against the spread. The Wizards are 13-35 SU and an astonishing 31-17 ATS about half way through the season. The key trend that is currently keeping the Wizards oddity afloat, is their 15-8 away record ATS.

The Wizards have road covers against eight different Western Conference teams this season, including the Rockets, Nuggets, Clippers, Jazz and Spurs. Washington also has impressive road covers over Chicago, Boston, Indiana (twice) and Atlanta (twice). Washington has a season point differential of -4.5 with their average nightly point spread being +5.74 (which is down from around 6.5 a month ago).

The only other noteworthy teams ATS so far this season have to be the New Orleans Hornets and Dallas Mavericks. Both teams are a combined 37-61 SU and a putrid 16-37 away from their home courts. New Orleans is 27-22 ATS, Dallas is 28-21 ATS and they are, respectively, the 9th and 6th best teams against the spread in the NBA.


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