Keep an eye on
‘cruising’ NBA teams

Oct 28, 2003 2:24 AM

Pro basketball lovers and sports bettors can rejoice with the return of the NBA. From a wagering standpoint, the NBA has been called the toughest sport to beat and the most profitable option.

Both are right.

The regular season features many nights where a team might be on cruise control. Factors such as long road trips and playing four games in five nights can contribute to uneven motivation and inconsistent performance.

By the same token, the length of the season is in the informed bettor’s favor. You can get a solid handle on how teams perform, which units are coming together, and how teams perform against certain opponents.

A team will only play another team two to five times a season, which isn’t a large enough data sample to make any kind of serious conclusions from. If you lump teams together by a certain trait, evidence builds as far as how teams will handle upcoming matchups.

Last year, Dallas was 28-0 SU against teams ranked in the bottom third of the league in net points per game. The following table lists how the eventual champion San Antonio fared ATS vs different opponent types.

Looking at the Spurs results you can see that they were outstanding against the other top teams in the league (16-8 ATS vs the good "net points" sides), against good assist teams, poor turnover teams and slow paced teams. The weakness seemed to be in playing the average NBA team. When other measures you use to handicap support the same team, you have an especially appealing situation.

Of course, looking at the profiles of a given team is interesting; there are league wide trends as to how certain profiles matchup. Average or poor teams (ranked 10th or below in net points) playing on the road are horrendous at covering the spread when facing teams that pile up assists. The record for last year was 103-159 (39 percent).

Also, a good team (ranked 1-9 in net points) playing at home was a strong bet even laying large points when facing a poor shooting team. The numbers show a 74-50 mark (60 percent) in such pairings.

Profiles could be a missing ingredient to your current method. Power ratings and other statistical gauges are great, but it’s matchups that matter. is back with the NFL next week offering innovative statistical coverage to help you win.