NBA First and Second Half Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 03/01/2007
If you are a serious NBA handicapper, or if you aspire to be, then an understanding of betting NBA halves is a tool you have to have in your toolbox. They likely aren't something you would want to play all of the time, especially the second halves, but they are a powerful way to capitalize on situations that can give you an edge. A lot of people are scared of playing them, though, and that fear usually comes from a lack of understanding. The basics are simple, and once you understand them you can use your imagination and insight to identify places where you may be able to use the bets to your advantage. Here's a look at the bets and some situations where they may prove useful.
NBA First Halves
This bet is as simple as it sounds - a line and a total are set for the first half of a game, and it is settled based on the half time score. Generally, the line is equal approximately to half of the overall total or spread, with an extra little bit often added to the favorite. These bets aren't played by the public nearly as much as a full game would be, so they can present opportunities.
The full game scores and stats of a team are easily and readily available, so everyone goes into handicapping those situations with the same information advantage. Finding the first half performance stats of teams over a season is much less common, and isn't to be found in the places that most public bettors look for their statistics. As a result, you can have an advantage if you are considering those stats. That can be especially valuable if one team tends to play either significantly better or significantly worse in the first half than they do over a whole game. Often a bad team starts well but doesn't have the stamina or depth to stay in it to the end. On the other hand, some strong teams have to fight boredom and inertia to keep themselves involved against lesser teams, and may not really turn it on until the second half. Both of those situations can create a betting opportunity.
This edge can be especially powerful in situations where the public perception will be contrary to the statistical reality. Say, for example, that it is the underdog that usually starts fast, and they are playing against a public favorite like the Lakers or the Mavs. In that case, the line may be set a bit high to compensate for the public support of the favorite, and the public may even help you further by pushing the line higher, so the strong starting underdog could be a real value in the first half. It would even be very possible to have a situation in which you believed that both the underdog's first half line and the favorite's full game line presented value.
Because first half lines aren't played as much as full lines, it is especially important to shop around for the best value. Different places will have different lines and you can often find a line that is playable at one place, while the line on the same game is horrible at another place.
NBA Second Halves
These lines are similar to first half lines, but you have to act much more quickly to play them. The lines are only set at or near the end of the first half, and they can only be played until the start of the second half. You have to be on your toes. You also need to remember that most second half lines, unless otherwise posted, also include overtime. That will obviously have a much bigger impact on second half totals than lines.
The best, and perhaps only, time you would want to be considering these lines is if you are watching or following a game closely. If you can spot something that may not be reflected accurately in the line, but which will impact the outcome of the game, then you could have some value. Because the books have to set lines quickly, and because on busy nights they may have to set several lines in a short period of time, it is possible to occasionally find a soft line.
Because of the timeframe, the lines are often based on the handicapping of the whole game, the score of the game and the betting action on the game, so if you are closely watching the game you may spot a situation where the line doesn't reflect the likely outcome. A late rally could have made a game seem closer than it has been for most of the game and than it is likely to be at the end of the game, or role players who are contributing significantly in the game could be in serious foul trouble. Those events may not be evident to someone who is casually watching the game, but they could impact the outcome, so you could profit from betting them. This could also be true if you have spotted a player taking a misstep that could lead to reduced playing time in the second half, or if you felt that stamina was going to come into question for a key defender or scorer.
Another situation where these bets can be useful is if a solid favorite is behind after the first half. The public perception is going to be that the favorite is going to rally and come back to win it. The line will often times be set to reflect the likely public support of the favorite. If you have been following the game and you believe that the success of the underdog is not a fluke and that it is sustainable, you may be able to find significant value in the second half line. On the other side, you might find a line that you find attractive on the underdog if the favorite has run way to an early lead. The books could look to set a more attractive second half line on the underdog in an attempt to offset some of their likely losses on the whole game.