How Does Spread Betting Work? The NBA Edition

It is the most wonderful time of the year. The smell of warm cookies and spices permeates the air. Families and friends gather together to celebrate the birth of the Savior. However, for professional athletes and entertainers, the end of the year marks the beginning of a new season, which often results in a significant decline in their net worth.

The sudden increase in free agents coupled with the new collective bargaining agreement has made this period infamous amongst sports investors. Players’ unions have filed a grievance against the NBA for its ‘rookie tax’ and ‘lockout rules.’ The ‘rookie tax’ is a percentage of the league’s income that is withheld from first-year players’, which is generally around $1.9 million. The ‘lockout rules’ establish requirements for a new season, meaning that the NBA can’t get back to its full roster until at least mid-June. This reduces the number of games available for the public to view and reduces the income that the NBA earns from advertising.

Although the lockout rule seems counterintuitive, it actually helps the NBA ensure that there are enough teams to make the season worth while. If the season started now, there would be only six games left on the schedule. However, since the start of June is when the season resumes, there are currently 19 games left to be played. Hence, not only does the lockout rule reduce the number of games that the general public can view, but it also ensures that there will be more games to invest in.

Why Bet On The Spread?

The traditional way of betting on sporting events is to place bets on the outcome of the game. For example, if you feel that the Chicago Bulls will beat the Los Angeles Lakers by a certain number of points, you would bet on the Lakers to win the game. However, betting on the spread offers you a way to take advantage of teams that are perceived to be weaker than their record indicates. In the NBA, if a team is off by more than two or three points in the predicted score, you can expect that the bookmaker will have adjusted the odds accordingly. As a result, you may find that betting on the spread is a more profitable option.

The Difference In Strategy

The basic strategy for betting on the spread is to bet on the underdog. If you look at the table below, you will see that the underdog is defined as the team that is less favored to win the game (i.e., has fewer points, the same number of points or less points to win).

Now, it is not always the case that the team with the fewer points will win. In the NFL, for example, if two teams have the same number of points at the end of the game, it will be determined by the order in which the two teams scored. In the NBA, however, the last team to score wins. This is why, in the NFL, you would need to make a spread bet in order to have a chance of winning.

If you look at the table below, you will see that the strategy is very similar. The only significant difference is the initial line. The favorite is defined as the team that is more favored to win the game (i.e., has a higher win probability). In the NFL, the favorite is usually the first team to score (i.e., has the highest win probability). In the NBA, this is determined by the team with the best record. A team with a better record is considered to be the favorite.

Regardless of whether you bet on the spread or against the spread, the basic strategy is to look for value bets. In other words, you want to bet on a team that is likely to win but is not the favorite. The reason for this is that, as a general rule, underdogs win more than favorites. This holds true in the NBA as well. In fact, since 2005-06, underdogs have posted a 48-45 record in regular season games against the spread (using the ‘50-50′ method of measuring favoritism). In addition, since 2011-12, they have posted a 52-39 record in regular season games against the spread.

The Appeal Of Spread Betting

Although the appeal of betting on the spread in the NBA is similar to what it is in other leagues (i.e., the additional games make it more appealing), there is one significant difference. In the NBA, you are usually not betting on the team, but rather on the outcome of the game. As a result, there is more variance in the NBA because the games matter more. This means that there is more opportunity to wager on a game that is too close to call. For example, in the NBA, a bettor could wager that the Miami Heat will win the 2016-17 season and that the spread will be 4.0 points (+4.0) or 4.5 points (+4.5) in favor of the Heat. In the first instance, the bettor would lose, but in the second he would win. This is why, in the NBA, spread betting is more appealing than it is in other sports.

The Importance Of Home Field Advantage

Another significant difference between the NBA and other leagues is that, in the NBA, home field advantage can be a key factor in determining the outcome of a game. It is important to note that home field advantage is not the same as ‘geographical proximity.’ The reason for this is that, in the NBA, teams can and do travel to play other teams. Hence, the importance of being at home in order to put in a good performance cannot be overstated. When playing at home, a team usually has an edge over a visiting team because there is usually less stress on the players and less distraction from home.

The home team also has an advantage when playing on a completely even surface, as there is no ‘field effect’ in such situations. However, the away team has an advantage in terms of weather, as it usually rains heavily in the area of the other team’s stadium. Hence, if you are a betting fan, you will want to pay close attention to home field advantage in the NBA. For example, if you believe that the home team will have an advantage over the visitors, you would put money on them regardless of whether they are favored or not.

The Impact Of Injury On Outcome

One more thing to keep in mind regarding basketball and betting is that injuries can have a significant impact on the outcome of a game. If you look at the table below, you will see that there is a significant inverse correlation between the number of injuries and the amount of money wagered on the game. This suggests that injuries make games less predictable, which in turn makes it more appealing for bettors to wager on them.

If you compare the regular season records of the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks, which are the two teams that have been hit by the most injuries this year (20 and 19 injuries respectively), you will see that they have posted a combined total of 1-14 record. Similarly, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings, two teams that have been hurt by the least amount of injuries (four and five injuries respectively) have combined for a 28-36 record.

One more factor to keep in mind when it comes to injuries and betting is rest. Due to the increased travel in the NBA, players are usually put in a situation where they have to play consecutive games. As a result, they are less likely to make it through a whole game. In addition, the longer the layoff between games, the more likely it is that a player will get injured. As a result, there is more opportunity for betting on games where the players have missed a lot of action.

Final Takeaway

Despite the increased travel in the NBA, the season is still considered to be one of the more exciting times of the year for sports betters. The difference is that, rather than waiting for the end of the season to place wagers, you can now wager on the outcome of games during the season. Since 2011, around 20 games per season have gotten enough public interest to enable online bookmakers to offer bets. This represents a 400% increase in online betting activity in the NBA since its inception. The appeal of online betting is that you can now place bets regardless of whether you are in London or New York. This is not the case when placing bets on the outcome of games, as sportsbooks are usually shut down during the off-season. Hence, while the appeal of betting on the spread is similar to what it is in other leagues, the primary difference is that you can now place a wager during the season, regardless of whether or not you are in the vicinity of a sportsbook.