Every year in the NBA we see elite teams go into a slump later on in the season. These are teams that have been playing very well, are certainly going to the playoffs, and are a threat to win it all once they get there. For some reason, though, they hit a stretch of games where it almost seems as if they have forgotten how to win. They can’t rebound, hit foul shots or swipe rebounds. Most times the streak ends. Sometimes it is a sign of more significant, enduring problems. For NBA sports bettors, two things are important – why is the slump happening, and when is it likely to end? By answering those two questions you can be well positioned to find very nice value in certain basketball lines. Here are seven questions that you can ask to help you find the answers you need in order to make smart picks on NBA games:
How secure is their seeding? – Simply put, the more that a NBA team stands to lose by dropping several game down the stretch, the more concerned you should be about the losses. If the team has clinched their division – or all but clinched it – then they have home court advantage sewn up for at least one round, and quite possibly two. If they aren’t likely to win the conference then they really have nothing more to play for, and it’s understandable that they wouldn’t be motivated to play as hard as they can. If their losing streak puts home court advantage at risk, though, then that’s a much bigger concern, and likely a sign that there is something wrong with the team. That cause for concern for the bettor.
What have they done in the past? – In some cases history can be the best teacher. There are some very good NBA teams that seem to go through a period of struggle every season at some point. It’s as if they know they can’t maintain their intensity the whole season, so they take a mental break when they hot the hardwood. If they have done it before then it only makes sense that you can learn what might happen this time around from what happened in the past. If they shook off the slump, picked up their game, and went into the league playoffs in top form then they are likely to do so again. If the slump was a problem in the past, though, and the personnel is essentially the same, then you might be more tentative about their chances this time around.
Who are they losing to? – There are a couple of ways in which the opponents they lose to can be a big concern. When they play against other elite NBA teams then you would expect them to be motivated for the games. If they are consistently losing those games, and not performing at full intensity in those losses, then they have bigger problems. If they are losing to bad teams then it’s also a real concern. That means that they are playing down to their opponents – a classic sign of lack of focus and consistency. The only types of losses that are reasonably acceptable – or at least which don’t set off alarm bells – are ones against solid but not spectacular teams. If they are losing to teams that will make the playoffs but aren’t likely to go further than that then it’s not ideal but at least it is understandable if they aren’t playing at their best.
How are they losing? – The score is ultimately the only thing that matters in the end. In this case, though, you want to look beyond the score to see how the teams are losing. If they are playing at full intensity but coming up short then that’s a real concern – they just might not be very good, or they may have current problems that are limiting their abilities. If they aren’t playing as well as they can, or as well as we have seen them play, though, then there could be bigger issues – chemistry, coaching, injuries, and so on.
Do they get up for big games? – There are fewer reasons to be concerned about a NBA team that isn’t playing well if they are still able to raise their play up in their biggest games. If they have a new level that they reach when playing other elite teams, big rivals, or potential playoff opponents then it is easy to dismiss their struggles as just a lack of focus that will be resolved when the games again matter. If they are struggling in those big games, too, though, then the problems run deeper.
How healthy are they? – You need to look at how many players are missing action – and what roles they fill on the court. A profesional basketball team can struggle even if they have all their starters if key role players off the bench aren’t available – and the public will often not take enough notice of those situations. Beyond the players that are out of the lineup you also need to look at the players that are banged up but still playing. If their effectiveness is compromised, the can’t hit the field goals they need to or play tough in the paint, then the whole team could struggle.
Are there obvious problems? – Sometimes NBA sports bettors make these situations more complicated than they need to be. If it looks like a horse then maybe it’s a horse – not a zebra with skin disease. When you look at a team are there obvious problems that seem to be getting in the way of their success? Is their best player unhappy? Is the coach having issues? Is the team airing laundry in public? If you can simply and easily explain what is happening then you may not have to look further than that. You just have to figure out what it means, and if and when it is likely to change. Then play the NBA spreads that make the most sense according to what you know.