It’s good to be back with another NBA gambling column. It’s been an up and down start to the season for me, highlighted (or perhaps I should say lowlighted) by this:
A money line bet at 35-1 I had on the Nets to beat the Warriors. In case you missed it, Brooklyn was in control for most of the game and led by three points with five seconds remaining. Andre Iguodala hit a three and then Brook Lopez missed a gimme to send the game to overtime where they (my Nets) eventually got wiped off the floor.
Luckily, I was able to butter up and go 4-0 the next day, unfortunately they were all at the spread, I did not parlay them, and it did nothing to recoup some of my lost spirit after the Nets loss.
But in gambling, you sometimes just take your lumps and move on. And that is what we are doing in this week’s column.
We’ve got a decent enough sample size of NBA games now to start taking notice of the trends out there. Certainly don’t overreact to these, but after 12 games there are some things punters (an Australian word for bettors) need to keep in mind before making our next wagers.
Special mentions to the early season MVP, Steph Curry, who’s doing some incredibly special things on the basketball court every single night, and Blake Griffin who is playing out of his skin! Quietly going about his business and getting half of the accolades. That Clippers/Warriors game last night was going a real treat. Left me wondering when we are going to see odds on the Warriors breaking the 1995-96 Bulls record for most wins in a season. (Columnist Paul Ladewski, who covered those Bulls and now covers the Warriors, has already chimed in with his thoughts on the matter. As has Sheridan. Let’s just say they are both true believers.
Ok, here’s what you need to know about gambling trends.
These teams are performing well against the spread (ATS)
New York 8-4 (I know, I know – I was wrong, for now!)
Utah 8-3 (Talented young team playing well without my man Dante Exum)
San Antonio 7-3
And believe it or not…. The defending champion Golden State Warriors 7-6
The young Timberwolves are playing well on the road
The T’Wolves are 6-0 ATS on the road! The old chain of thought out there was that young teams perform better at home in a more comfortable environment. Well, these young Timberwolve pups are enjoying America. It’s important to note that road underdogs are performing well across the whole NBA but for a young team this is particularly interesting. (A tip: This is the best place to find basketball betting odds.)
Be cautious of…
The Cavs have gone 1-8 ATS over their past nine games. I know LeBron is worried that the Warriors might be more ‘hungry’ than the Cavs, but I think the bigger issue is they are just a much better team. Especially without Kyrie Irving. It was always going to be a grind for this Cavs team, and the fact they are 9-3 is much more important than how the wins came about.
From a gambling perspective though, be very careful betting the Cavs to cover ambitious spreads but certainly don’t dismiss them as the team to beat in the East and a very serious championship contender.
Also be cautions of …
Young and or non-glamorous teams that are performing well against the spread currently, such as the Wolves, Jazz, Nuggets, Knicks, Magic and Pacers. These teams are really tricky teams to value.
They’ll play well while their record is around .500 but after a few losses, tough road trips and when the young bodies start to get banged up, will the good play continue? I’m tipping that the teams with more depth will start to perform better ATS as the season goes on.
A trend that has emerged over recent years is that favorites, particularly at home, are overbet in the early stages of the season.
Why are the Knicks performing well against the spread?
They are 5-0 ATS on the road!
They did a really good job in the preseason of managing expectations on Kristaps Porzingis who has played really well. I’ve been impressed by his ability to rebound given his light frame, and also his ability to protect the basket.
Carmelo Anthony has started the season very well for an aging star. He’s working hard on both ends albeit still a below-average defensive player, and his leadership has been admirable. He’s taking care of the Basketball (only 1.9 turnovers per game, on pace for the best of his career) and his rebounding numbers are solid.
Further good news for Knicks fans: Aaron Afflalo is a hell of a lot better than Sasha Vujacic and the lineup balances nicely with him back in the fold.
I certainly was harsh on the Knicks in the preseason, and while I’ve got an increased level of respect for them, I do believe they’ll finish the year well below .500.
Be sure to embrace
Embrace the fact that as bettors we can be wrong! You only need to win 56% of the time to churn a profit betting. That means that 44% of the time you are going to be wrong. Embrace it and learn from it. Bookmakers are constantly moving their lines and honing their formulas. This game waits for no one, so stay up to date and don’t get left behind.
A few things I was wrong about…
Houston. The Rockets were always going to take some time to mesh, but my gosh, have they been less than ordinary thus far. I think Bill Simmons summed it up best during the Boston game, the last game of the Kevin McHale era (see below). For the record, James Harden is a superstar and things will turn!
The Body Language Doctor doesn’t even need to put on scrubs to diagnose the Rockets – something is drastically off with them.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 17, 2015
The Kings. I took a flyer on Boogie Cousins and it looks like it’s going to backfire on me. You can’t possibly chew your coach’s ear off and call him every explative under the sun and be the ‘leader’ of your team. History tells us that if you want to be a successful team, your star players must also assume the role of ‘leader’ in at least some capacity. This isn’t happening at the moment, and until it does the Kings are a risk.
Bold prediction going forward
Joe Johnson will end being traded to a championship contender and perform VERY well in the 2016 playoffs.
I love Joe Johnson, I don’t know why but I’ve always had a soft spot for the big smooth. He is in the midst of a bit of a shooting slump (which he showed signs of breaking in Charlotte) but is still making good plays on the basketball court. He’s physical, shoots well and his game is suited to playoff hoops. Not to mention he can play three positions and he LOVES making big shots.
Teams that spring to mind at Johnson destinations? Oklahoma City (remember, the Blazers can broker any trade imaginable given their salary cap room), Dallas, Houston, and a host of Eastern Conference teams, including Chicago, would benefit greatly from having Johnson in the corner come May and June.
Jake Henson has worked with corporate bookmakers and professional gamblers and will be providing regular NBA gambling advice on Sheridan Hoops throughout the season. Follow him on Twitter and tweet him your thoughts on any betting market that tickles your fancy.