NBA Betting Myths



2007-12-13

Many myths are born in sports betting. They get propagated and embellished as the years go on just due to being repeated so often, many times developing inaccuracies and deep-seeding the falsehood even more. It is like the childhood game where the teacher would tell you a phrase or name and then you whispered it to the next kid. This continued through the class until at the end of the line the initial words spoken by the teacher were completely different than what the final person in line heard.

Certain fallacies in sports betting exist as rock-solid betting situations, some even approaching "can't lose" proportions. Sports bettors make assumptions that aren't correct, even though they seem like the obvious choice to make. Let's look at a couple of betting myths in the NBA that many people to be true.

Myth #1
Play against teams in their last game on a long road trip.

Would you like to make a wager that covered more than 60% of the time since 1995, the earliest year my database goes back to? Let me set up the situation.

You are on the road in the NBA. You are going from city to city, almost always late at night after a game, not arriving to your destination until the early hours of the morning. Many times you don't even have a day off to help prepare for your next opponent. At least half of the cities you visit you will barely know as you only go there to play once a year. Weather can be a factor. You live in Miami and now you get to play a Tuesday night game in below-freezing weather in Minneapolis. In a snow-storm.

Okay, maybe I overdid it. Life on a long road trip in the NBA can be difficult. I don't care if it is a charter jet and you are staying at very nice hotels. Travel is travel. Crossing time zones, unfamiliar beds, and sleep deprivation add up. Just traveling in a plane can take it out of you.

So, what better spot to bet against a team that is playing their last game on a five-game road trip? Surely they are tired and wanting to go home. How can this team give it's all to win the game. My favorite line is applicable here: The point spread is the great equalizer.

Did you ever think maybe the linesmaker knows this is that team's last game before heading home. Maybe the line will be shaded a bit more than normal? How about the other team's thoughts? They know their opponent's situation. Could they be thinking of how easy this game is going to be? Will they be playing with as much focus and intensity against the team with the frequent flyer miles?

How about this for an answer: A team playing its fifth game on a five-game trip covers 61.7% of the time if it is against a conference opponent who is off of a loss. It's that simple. Add the fact that the team's foe's loss was at home and you improve it a bit to 62.8%. And, if the road team's opponent is playing their next game on the road, you now have a spot that covers 70.8%.

Myth #2
Play against teams that are playing a back-to-back game versus a team with rest.

Yes, this makes logical sense. But first, you better know what teams are playing. Boston over the past five years playing without any rest versus an opponent with rest is a stellar 30-13, 69.8%, against the spread. The Hornets are 34-19. 64.2%. If you are lucky, maybe that team you are playing against is the Utah Jazz, 17-31 ATS the past five years. Or even better, the "tired team" is the Lakers, 22-43 against the number, better than a 66% winner for you.

What about a game pitting two teams with both teams playing back-to-back contests? This is a dilemma! Just hope you aren't betting against the Phoenix Suns in this case, 18-9 the past five years covering the spread. Maybe you are fortunate and will be betting against the Sacramento Kings, just 6-15 ATS in this spot.

Location of the games can be a factor. A common situation is where the un-rested team is on the road playing against a team with one day of rest. It is just a one-game trip and the back-to-back squad returns home for their next game. Is it a surprise that the un-rested team covers 54% of the time? Not huge, but I better have a more compelling reason to bet against them than just the fact they are playing back-to-back games.

If you don't believe location can be a factor, how about by just knowing where the opponent plays next can increase that "tired team" from covering 54% of the time to covering 65.6% of the time. The poor guy who bet against the road team in our last situation where the squad he has money on is playing their next game on the road, lost his wager 65.6% of the time over the past five years.

Just to add to the rest myth, remember that team playing their last game at the end of a five-game road trip we spoke about earlier? The one in the situation that covered 62.8% of the time? Just add the fact that that road-weary team is playing that last game without any rest and your winning percentage against the spread just went up to 71.4%! It doesn't happen often at all, but those are situations worth looking out for.

The bottom line is you will improve your bottom line in wagering on sports if you don't always take an urban legend trend and bet it blindly. After all, don't you remember when New York City's sewers supposedly had alligators living in them? Or dropping an aspirin in a Cokeā€¦.?

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