The gap between the really good teams and the really bad ones is probably bigger in the NBA than in any other professional league. The haves are so far from the have nots right now, it’s like they are playing different sports. When teams like that meet on the court the result is typically predictable and far from surprising. Every so often, though, one of the lesser teams in the NBA will shock one of the good ones. Because those upsets are rare you can make a very nice return if you can correctly spot when the upsets could happen. Here are six ways to spot a potential big upset:
Underdog quietly rounding into form – Teams aren’t always playing as badly as their record would suggest, but if they have a bad record then a lot of casual bettors won’t look much beyond that. Even bad NBA teams can have periods in which they are playing pretty solid basketball, though. If you can spot these situations when they aren’t particularly obvious then you are going to be in good shape in the long term. You can look for signs of this at both the team and individual levels. From a team perspective some nice wins would be the most obvious indicator, but you can also look for teams that have covered a few spreads in a row against decent teams, or one that have shown improvement in key stats like field goal percentage or efficiency that they have sustained over several games. Look for when they hit their field goals more often, grab more rebounds and cause greater numbers of turnovers. Individually you can look for good players who are on particularly strong streaks – streaks hot enough that they can lift the team with them. For example, when Kevin Love got red hot on the boards in November the Timberwolves covered five in a row.
Stars on the favorite slumping – The betting public will always think that Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant – probably the best player in the league. Sometimes, though, even Kobe doesn’t play like himself. The easiest single way to spot a situation where an underdog could have a good day is to find situations where the NBA star isn’t playing like a basketball star. It could be that the player has put together substandard performances a couple of games in a row, or that he seems to be playing at less than full health. When a talent is dominant he can drag the whole team down if he isn’t at his best, and even a bad team can take advantage of that and so can you as a sports bettor.
Favorite looking past underdog – The Lakers aren’t going to be thinking about their game against Washington very much if it comes the night before they play the Celtics. That doesn’t mean that they are going to play badly enough to lose, but combined with other factors it could put the underdog over the top. At the very least, it could give the underdog more of an edge than they would have had otherwise. Not only will the favorite not be too excited about the game, but the underdog could be particularly motivated to make some noise against one of the heavyweights.
Rested dog, tired favorite – The NBA schedule can be very quirky – teams can play three games in four days one week, then not play for five days the next week. Teams understandably can get run down when the schedule is brutal – especially if the games come on the road. Teams that are well rested can have an extra jump in their step. More significantly, the time off could give the underdog more time to practice and to prepare specifically for the opponent.
Matchups – Basketball is a game that is all about matchups. Sometimes a bad team can offer matchup challenges that could be a problem for a very good team. Maybe a good team is tall and strong and has troubles with smaller, faster players. Or maybe the good team has troubles against tall teams that can rebound. If the good NBA team has consistently struggled against one style of team, and if the underdog has a similar style then you could have an opportunity either ats or with the moneyline. .
Strange line movement – The most reliable way to spot potential upsets is to look at NBA games that have caught the eyes of smart money bettors. If, for example, the Heat are playing a bad team then you would expect the large majority of the public money to be on the Heat.. The line should either stay steady or increase as a result. If the line falls in a case like that, though, then it’s a clear indicator that someone has been betting very heavily on the underdog. That’s not something the public would do unless there was an obvious reason like a major injury, so it has to be the smart money that is getting thrown around. there are certainly worse things you can do than paying attention to where the smart money obviously is and following it.