by Stal Herz - 02/10/2006
In the NBA, who covers and who doesn't has little to do with the team's record or the quality of the players on that squad. Often times it has to do with situations, timing and intensity. There are some teams that are considered 'public teams' which garner a lot of action and bookies often shade or add points to the lines. Adversely, there are some teams the betting public won't touch and that can also factor into the point spread and a team's record against it.
With that, the Doc wants to let you in on some secrets on how to get and edge when betting in the Association.
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Let's take a look at some trends as far as who covers the spread and who doesn't.
This year, the away teams are a total of 365 - 348 - 12 (51.19 percent) against the spread, while those not having to leave the confines of their hometown are, of course, 348 -356 -12 (48.81 percent) against the oddsmakers.
So then, it doesn't seem like home court advantage has much to do with covering if you just look at the numbers, so let's dive a little deeper inside of those stats to see if we can't find the patterns.
The favorites in the NBA this season have only covered 48 percent of the spreads. As a matter of fact, the numbers for covering between the home dogs and the away favorites or home favorites and away dogs, is always right around 50 percent. Going by this, looking for league averages or trends might be bit deceiving. Let's take a look at some individual teams and how they have fared this year in the eyes of the gambling public.
So who's making people's loot sacks expand? Is it the Detroit Pistons who just had four of their starting five selected as reserves at the All Star Game (Mr. Prince, we would have voted for you)? The Dallas Mavericks, winning throughout the month of February?
Nope. Try the team that Kobe lit up for 81 in Toronto. That's right, the Raptors are 27-20-2 against the spread this year. Just below them are the Bobcats and Magic, who are both headed down to the corner store after this season ends to buy their lottery tickets.
So why do sub .500 teams do so well against the spread? Although they are constantly loosing, these teams are stacked with NBA players, so getting blown out every night is just not going to happen. You also need to take into account that the top tier teams in the league, which may be heavily favored against the doormats, will come into the game without their full focus. Bookies know where the action will come in games involving top-tier teams like San Antonio and Detroit, so they will set the line accordingly. John Q. Public isn't going to care if the line is 5 or 8 if the Pistons are playing Orlando on the road and the bookies know this.
"It comes down to bettors not giving these struggling teams any attention at all as well as the perceptions people have on these teams," said Greg Jorssen, spokesman for Bodog "Bettors typically laid money on the big boys such as Detroit and the Spurs, thus teams like the Raptors and Charlotte typically fly under the radar. They hardly are seen on national television and do not get the exposure of the elite teams in the league. Those that receive the exposure typically get a fair amount of handle due to the higher than normal expectations.
"Let's look at the Raptors, for example. Over their first eight games, they were on average a 5.2 point dog per game. The Raptors, of course, lost all of them straight up, as well as losing them all (ATS). We had to make some adjustments because of that. During their next eight games, they were given an average of 8.4 points per game and even though they lost seven of them, they managed to cover six. Bettors stayed away due to not wanting to bet on any team that was 1-15. Those that did wager on Toronto found value in the inflated spreads and were rewarded handsomely."
For the better teams in the league, you just can't get up for every team, every night, especially if everyone is already counting the win for you. This gets even trickier as the season goes on, with the rookies and backup players getting more time and playing with more intensity as they look to make a name for themselves in the league.
Remember, everyone's a baller, even if they do have dinosaurs on their uniforms.
And who's just falling flat? Well, the Chicago Bulls are 21-28, the Seattle Sonics are 17-31-1 ATS, and the Washington Wizards are just 18-27-2. What do these teams all have in common? They were all playoff teams last year that were expected to be competitive again this season.
So how are you to know? Try following a team out of the playoff race for a few weeks and see if they cover, when they cover, and against what teams they cover against. What squad is coming off a big-time road win and seems ready for a letdown? The likelihood is that the less action Vegas is getting on those teams, the respect they will get from the oddsmakers.
With the right amount of homework, you'll be able notice the patterns and catch someone sleeping.