When you think of Christmas day what do you think of? For me it’s trees, presents, family, turkey, and professional basketball. The NBA owns Christmas day, They are often the only game in town, and some of the best and most eagerly anticipated matchups of the year are scheduled for the big day. It’s brilliant marketing for the league, and a brilliant addition to great day. Handicapping the Christmas day games and the other holiday games that the NBA plays is a little bit different than handicapping a normal game on a normal day. Ultimately they are just another basketball game – same rules, same stakes, and so on – but there are some subtle differences that smart NBA sports bettors will be aware of so they cam exploit them to their advantage. Here are four ways in which these games are different:
Public attention higher than normal – These games get all sorts of attention form the national media, and they usually feature high profile, star-filled teams. By the time the games start most people probably could use a break from their family for a while, too. All that means that the public attention on these games is more intense than normal, and that means that the betting volume on the games is higher than a normal game as well – typically much bigger. The higher the sports betting volume is the tighter the lines are going to be, so the harder you have to work to make sure you have found an edge. There is no slacking off when wagering on these NBA games if you are serious about making a profit. You also need to be even more aware than normal of what the public thinks about the game and what impact that could have on a line. If one team is likely to draw a large percentage of the bets on a game then the oddsmakers are going to compensate for that so that the books aren’t more exposed to one team than they need to be. Depending on which side you like that could make it harder or easier for you to find value. That extra betting volume doesn’t mean that you can’t wager on a game. It just means that you have to be aware of what is happening and particularly focused on making sure you have value before you pull the trigger.
Players more aware of game than normal – By the time December or January roll around it can be hard for players to get fired up for every game. They have already played a lot of games, they have a lot more left to play, and they have just settled into a groove that will hopefully lead them into the playoffs. A midweek game in those months can often feature less than perfect court play because of a lack of focus. You aren’t going to see that in these games. The attention is intense on these games, and the players know it. That means that the chances of seeing a complete effort from both sides is far higher here than in many other games. NBA handicappers have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure how motivated players will be for most games, but that doesn’t have to be nearly as much of a factor here.
Fewer games to choose from – We are generally spoiled as sports bettors. On most nights there is a whole lot to choose from – several NBA games to go along with NFL, college football, NHL, and college basketball games. It’s an embarrassment of choices. On holidays, though, there are typically just a few games to choose from. When there is choice we can be choosy and look for the best opportunity to find value and make some money. When there are only a very few games to choose from, though, your will power and self control are really called into question. You’ll probably want to have some action on a high profile game like this – bettors love action. If the games just don’t make sense as a bet, though, then you have to be willing to pass on them and wait until a better opportunity comes along. Not having a team to cheer on on Christmas day might not be much fun, but it will feel better than making a bad sports bet and losing it.
If games are lopsided early they could have more of a tendency to stay that way – NBA teams will be fired up for the start of these games. If one team runs away early, though, then these players could start to focus on what comes next and could let up on the intensity a bit. Players playing in these games have made big sacrifices to play in this game. They aren’t with their families on the biggest family day there is. If they are losing badly then their minds will drift towards the end of the game when they can go home, usually have a day or two off, and relax. If a team looks like they can get out to a strong early start then they could be even more attractive than they normally might be. Be smart when betting on tight NBA lines during Christmas and don’t push the action unless you’ve got a good sense of the matchup and can make an accurate prediction.