Originally published on OnlyPlayers.com
The 2021-22 NBA season is under way. And to be honest, betting hoops is my favorite as the sport offers good volume, lots of betting options (including derivatives) and lots of relevant betting information to work with. Here are some of the things pros are looking at when they make their plays.
Who Will Be On The Floor
The NBA has a real problem and it is called “load management.” This is the strategic term for resting healthy impact players. Sometimes this is known in advance and sometimes you have to watch the pregame warmup to know for sure. Unlike when this happens in baseball, it is hard to bail a team out when their best player is not on the floor. Of all the information you want before handicapping basketball this is probably at the top.
NBA teams are not just playing their opponents, they are also playing the schedule. Back-to-back games will influence the quality of play, and who is on the court, and some teams struggle at the beginning or end of long road trips. The NFL plays once a week and MLB is all about winning series. Game to game in the NBA, there are some tough spots where teams have to dig deep to win. And bettors have to understand the rhythms of the schedule as much as the teams.
Pace of Play
It might seem that the modern game is just a bunch of teams chucking the ball from behind the 3-point line, but that is not the case. The Golden State Warriors, who pioneered that style of play, were just 13th in scoring last season and the New York Knicks made the playoffs for the first time in forever with a strong rugged defensive style that ate up the clock on each possession. Knowing the talent helps, but you also have to know how teams play. That is a must for any totals wager.
To Defend or Not To Defend
This is not the 1990s where games were physical and literally ground to a halt as teams threw haymakers at each other. Defense is always at a premium, but these days it is all about forcing teams to take the shots you want them to, compared to just stopping opponents from scoring at all. It is important to know which teams actually value defense compared to which teams use that end of the floor as a time to give their players a rest. Last season, five of the top six teams in points allowed finished with ATS (against the spread) records over .500.
Free Throw Shooting
All you had to do was watch the implosion of the Philadelphia 76ers to see the value of making free throws. They couldn’t, er Ben Simmons couldn’t, and it ultimately cost them a playoff series. On the flip side, Giannis Antetokounmpo overcame his free-throw woes en route to an NBA title. With no “key” numbers like in football, made and missed free throws can swing the outcome of bets, if not games, and you need to be aware whether a team is likely to make you sweat or sleep comfortably.
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