Every year in the NBA there are a few things that we can be sure to see. One of those is that there will be several teams that play worse – often significantly worse – after the NBA All-Star break than they did before the break. If sports bettors can spot teams that are likely to perform much worse late in the season then they have been playing then they can make nice money when they find opportunistic odds and they bet against those teams and taking advantage of the value that could be available. Here are five indicators that a professional basketball team could struggle down the stretch of the long NBA season:
Reliance on rookies – In college a basketball player will not have played more than 40 games in a year, and that includes any exhibitions and the postseason. In high school, they may have played more than that when you include summer leagues and tournaments, but the games are spread out over a whole year. By the time a NBA rookie enters the second half of their first season, then, they are in uncharted territory. They have already played more games than they have ever played before, and they have done it playing far more often than they ever have before as well. The level of competition is much more difficult and the play much more physical as well – and the games are longer. On top of all that, professional players are under more scrutiny than ever before, and their commitments and responsibilities exceed what they have ever been exposed to. Add that all up and it is obviously very likely that rookies are going to become worn down as their first professional season progresses. In fact, it is a rare NBA rookie who does continue to perform with excellence and consistency as the season continues. The more a team relies on rookies – as starters or key bench players – the higher the likelihood that they could struggle in the second half of the season and that can affect your sports betting as you look for value in odds.
Big difference in home and road performance – This is a good time to be on the lookout for teams that have a much better record at home on the hardwood than on the road – especially if the road record isn’t particularly impressive. A team that is much better on the home court than on the road isn’t particularly tough, and they don’t handle adversity particularly well. Teams that play better late in the season when they are more tired and when the games mean more are the ones that are tough and which handle adversity well. That means that there is a good chance that a team that has struggled on the road is a team that could struggle down the stretch. Look for this when bookmakers offer their latest lines.
Lack of depth – The longer the season gets the more banged up players get. Injuries are an inevitable part if the NBA. That means that there will be players that are out of action, and even the players who are playing could be banged up and at less than their best. A NBA team that has issues with bench depth is one that could be in real trouble as the season continues. All teams have the same number of players, of course, so that’s not an indicator of depth. When thinking about your next NBA bet, what you are looking for is teams that have depth players who are capable of playing significant amounts of time if needed without significantly decreasing the effectiveness of the team.
Looming free agency – If a NBA player is going to be a free agent at the end of the season then that can prove to be a distraction for the team as the season progresses. The impact of this free agency can be more significant if a few different things happen. The first is if the player is a big name basketball player. The more significant the player is to his team, the more the media and fans will fixate on the contract status of that player. Second, the less likely the player is to re-sign with his team the more of a distraction it can become as people try to figure out where he will land. Finally, the worse a team is doing down the stretch the more likely that the situation will be come a distraction. If the team is in the heart of the NBA playoff hunt then the team, players, and fans will be more focused on that then on what happens after the seaosn. When there is no real hope on the court, though, everyone looks towards the future as the only story of interest. Let the facts regarding free agency guide your NBA sports picks accordingly as you look for value in lines.
Coach instability – In the NBA it can be very difficult for the coach to get his players to listen to him even in the best of circumstances. If he is not a particularly popular or successful coach and it is very likely that he will be fired then he could really have issues down the stretch. Professional basketball players won’t play hard for guys they don’t respect unless there are consequences if they don’t play hard. If the coach is going to be fired then there are going to be no real long term consequences. A lame duck coach, then, is one of the biggest contributing factors to a poor finish to the season. Expert sports bettors know this and use it when considering the latest odds and matchups.