NBA: Oddsmaker's Report Card

NBA: Oddsmaker's Report Card

NBA: Oddsmaker's Report Card
By Scott Spreitzer

I'd have to say this is one of the most surprising NBA betting seasons I've seen in quite some time.

It's not surprising in terms of teams doing the unexpected. Boston and the Lakers are still great teams. The Clippers are still the Clippers. What's surprised me the most is how poorly oddsmakers and the NBA betting markets have done in keeping up with the obvious!

I was originally going to present a "report card" for NBA teams. Instead, today's theme has become a report card for oddsmakers and NBA bettors!

I can cite several examples where this season's pointspreads have been very slow to reflect how good or how bad teams have been:

Everyone knew the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to be very strong this season. LeBron James continues to improve, and he was already amazing to begin with. The team was healthy to start the season, and has been smart about finding role players that complement LeBron. Then, the team jumped out to a hot start that confirmed they were championship material. Even though this was OBVIOUS and highly publicized, the Cavs were 32-16 against the spread entering this past weekend. You'd have won two-third of the time betting on the Cavs to beat expectations every time out. It's not supposed to be this easy!

Orlando didn't start the season with the same intensity as Cleveland. But they were soon matching the Cavs game for game. They weren't just winning…they were winning HUGE. The media started covering it. Everyone was talking about it. The Vegas lines took forever to adjust. Orlando entered this past weekend 32-16-1 ATS for the season…matching the Cavs at an incredible 67% cover rate. You only have to break 53% to make money as a sports bettor to overcome the 10% vigorish on lost bets. Cleveland and Orlando were making that easy for backers.

I mentioned that the LA Clippers are still the LA Clippers. Some of the names on the uniform may change. But poor ownership and management have always kept this franchise at the bottom of the league. Entering the past weekend, the Clips were 21-29 ATS for the season. That's 58% betting against a horrible team every time out.

Sacramento has been in a year-long battle with the Clippers in the NBA's Pacific Division to see who could be the most inept. Pointspreads haven't properly reflected this either. The Kings were 22-29 ATS entering this past weekend.

Memphis is another last place team that's had trouble getting anywhere near pointspread expectations. This struggling group was 17-31-1 ATS prior to Saturday's games. Again, poor play from Memphis isn't something that should have surprised anyone once the losses started piling up.

Oh, there are a couple of last place teams in the East also flailing against the spread. Washington was 18-31-1 ATS and Toronto 19-31-1 ATS entering last weekend.

You ever hear that pointspreads turn every game into a coin flip? Wrong! That may be the theory. That may happen when the oddsmakers are truly in sync with a sports league. In the NBA this year, it's as if nobody in Las Vegas but the sharpest handicappers and NBA bettors are paying attention. Oddsmakers were worried too much about football in November and December. They worried too much about the NFL playoffs and College Basketball betting in January. The "report card" grade for oddsmakers in the NBA right now is a "D"!

Is that about to change? Now that we're coming down the home stretch towards the playoffs, will the NBA betting markets better reflect the reality on the court?

Yes and no. Oddsmakers have finally been embarrassed into inflating the NBA betting lines to where they should be when the best and worst teams are playing. I still think they're going to miss developments as teams’ streak or slump. I talked about that a few weeks ago, as oddsmakers were slow on the trigger when Minnesota and Oklahoma City had very nice runs. A few more teams are going to have nice runs and some contenders are going to slump.

Remember that:

Injuries have been plentiful this year. Shorthanded teams are prone to slumps. Teams just getting healthy are prone to catch fire. The NBA betting market has been trailing these tendencies of late.

Some top teams emphasize closing the season in "playoff" form. This allows them to surpass expectations created back when they were in a lower gear. Others coast a bit down the stretch so they can be at 100% for the postseason. If you're in sync with the coaching mentality of each team, you'll find some great betting spots.

Some bad teams go on nice runs because opponents don't prepare mentally for them. They play for pride, and start hanging within tall numbers. Others go in the tank because the players can't stand the coach any more, or because management "encourages" the head coach to improve draft lottery position. It's not that hard to make money betting against teams who are in the tank!

As you enjoy the build up for All-Star Weekend in the NBA, map out some strategies you can use to score big in the second stage of the season. You have to attack a sport when the oddsmakers are flunking!

I can tell you it works with flying colors. I just recently had a 9-0 ATS run in the NBA on these pages, not to mention a 20-6 ATS run overall in the NBA. Keep on plugging, and stay one step ahead of the adjustments.

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