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Cashing in Hoops

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 10/27/2010 2:35:23 PM

Because the lines are so tight and because there is so much information out there, it’s a real chore to get a huge edge when betting on the NBA but it’s very possible if you really do your homework.

To understand how tough it can be just ask Alan Freed, the character played by James Caan in the classic movie The Gambler.

As a professor he made about 18 grand a year but owed his bookie $44,000. The high point, or low point for Freed, is after he bet $50,000 on the Lakers against Seattle; he is listening to the game in the bathtub when ‘the logo’ Jerry West goes to the line and misses all 3 foul shots to blow the spread.

That is the way the NBA can be cruel but there are things that can give an astute observer a decent edge.

It’s mandatory to know the players and which teams match up well with certain other squads. Former Golden State Coach Don Nelson was a master at mixing up his rotation and fooling opposing coaches with mismatches on the floor and it is often the difference between winning and losing.

To bet successfully clever bettors are well aware of certain situations when a team may not be up to playing at their very best. Back to back games on the road immediately come to mind, but you have to be careful as the line is automatically adjusted to compensate.

Same thing with injuries. The line will move but there can also be a result when that one player that has been begging for playing time sees his chance right in front of him and he will step up for that key teammate that was hurt.

On the other side of the coin, when a key player returns to a team after an extended injury, the logical thing will be to assume that the team will just plug him in, move on and play well but what often happens is that it takes a few games for the rotation to get back to winning form.

Just like any other endeavor, having a feel for the game is huge. It’s a skill to be able to watch games with intent and knowing what to look for while analyzing players and if they are improving, going through the motions, or flat out overmatched on many nights.

Betting totals takes some nerve but just the very fact that bookmakers in Las Vegas limit the action on totals tells you that they can be vulnerable at times.

When teams like Denver and Golden State compete, the game is usually going to go over because both squads are high-octane units that don’t play the best of defense.

Conversely, Milwaukee, with tough-minded Scott Skiles, and Boston, with veteran influences, will generally play low scoring games inherently.

When teams start on long road trips, the early games have to be followed closely because as the room service starts to get old after the 4th or 5th new city, fatigue will set in.

The opposite can sometimes happen when a team gets back from a long trip. When an Eastern team returns home after 5 or 6 on the West Coast and only have one day to recoup, they tend to let down in that first home game figuring that all is well and they are sleeping in their own beds.

The key to success with betting on hoops is to be patient, pay attention and don’t get greedy and go bonkers over one or two games. Good luck.

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