Volatility creating opportunity

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The NBA remains one of the most challenging sports to handicap and wager upon on a day to day basis. This is true largely due to the nature of the sport itself and the grueling physical demand the game takes at the highest level.

Basketball has the fewest players involved at any one time of the major sports, five per team. Thus any one player comprises 20 percent of a team’s participant while on the court.

The physical toll of pounding the legs up and down the court for between 30 and 40 minutes per game for most starters leads to an alarmingly high number of injuries, many of which linger on during the course of the season with teams playing three or four games per week with no extended time to rest aside from the All Star break.

As a result, teams, and coaches, tend to pace themselves over the course of the 82 game regular season, saving as much as possible in reserve for the two months of playoff basketball that runs from mid April to mid June.

Successful handicapping relies more and more on spotting favorable situations when a team is likely to either play to or above its established level or play or well below that level (such as in the second of back to back road games or following an emotionally draining win).

Also to be factored in are the daily injury reports. The anticipated impact of injuries are generally included in the point spread but, depending on the player involved and what his absence means to his team, can more often than not be either overstated or understated.

More and more in recent season, the focus of handicapping among the large betting syndicates has shifted from betting on teams to betting on numbers and making a very high number of plays. Often these groups will be looking to find, or create, “middle” opportunities in which they lay a lower price with the favorite and take a higher price with the underdog.

Most often this concept is thought of as being used in wagering on football but it has also increasingly surfaced in betting the NBA and, in fact, has been used for quite some time in betting NBA totals.

Quite often we have seen totals open at, say 185, only to be bet up during the day to, say, 189, at which point those who played OVER 185 will come back and play UNDER 189, looking for the game to fall within that range of numbers.

We have started to see, in recent seasons, NBA lines show volatility during the day, rising (or falling) only to return to the opening number (or perhaps a half point away from the open).

While this strategy is being used by the major syndicates to move numbers it does permit for some values to the casual or non-professional bettor as well by creating opportunities to lay or take a price that is more favorable than what may have been available at the start of the wagering cycle.

It does require patience, but the daily volatility in NBA betting has created opportunities that did not exist at such a high frequency in seasons past. Combined with the advent of “in game wagering” there are more ways than ever to profit from all sports betting, including the NBA, where certain teams have shown an ability to play one good half (or quarter) and then reverse form later in the same game.

For most of us the goal remains to pick the point spread winner of the game which, as stated at the outset, is challenging in the NBA. But by isolating the more favorable, or unfavorable, situations and exercising the patience and discipline to wait for those spots, increases our chances for success.

Here’s a preview of three games to be played this weekend.

Chicago at Portland (Fri.): Chicago is unrested after playing in Sacramento Thursday night and the fragile condition of star Derrick Rose is always a concern that is heightened in the second of back to back games.

At press time both teams had won 7 of their first 10 games but Portland was also 7-3 SU whereas the Bulls were costing backers to the tune of their 4-6 ATS mark. PORTLAND.

Toronto at Cleveland (Sat.): While it is taking time for Cleveland’s “new look” roster to gel with LeBron James and Kevin Love getting acclimated to their new teammates, Toronto has picked up from where it ended last season, playing some excellent basketball in the new season’s first month. Both teams played Friday night and have had to travel to this venue.

The Raptors have benefited from a favorable early schedule, playing 7 of its first 10 games at home, winning 6. They are 2-1 SU on the road but the wins have been at lowly Orlando and Boston. By contrast the Cavs have played more road games (5) than home games (3) and should be solid favorites here. The “value” will be with the underdogs. TORONTO.

LA Clippers at Memphis (Sun.): The Clippers are in the third game of a seven-game road trip with a game in Charlotte on Monday. Memphis starts a four-game road trip after this contest but will not be in action until next Wednesday at the Lakers.

The Clippers are the more high profile team and could come the short favorite here although Memphis has been one of the NBA’s best teams over the first few weeks, standing 9-1 SU but starting the week on an 0-5 ATS slide. Memphis relies on its defense and is much more disciplined than the Clippers. MEMPHIS.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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