Handicapping NBA Elite Team Matchups, Odds and Making Picks

One of the big challenges with NBA handicapping is trying to find a winner in a game with a small point spread when both NBA teams are elite and well matched. With NBA basketball odds, It’s easy to get a sense of how a game will turn out when there is a big difference in skill, motivation or health, but you really have to have your handicapping pencil sharpened when you are trying to pick the winner between good teams. Here are seven questions to ask when looking at these tough games:

Is one more popular with the public? – When you have two successful, popular teams playing each other you are almost certainly going to have more public attention than you would if a good NBA team was playing a poor one, or if two poor teams were playing. When popular teams play the media will be more interested in the game, and the general coverage of the basketball game will be far more intense. The more coverage a game gets the more the public will be drawn to betting on the game and the higher the betting volume is likely to be. High public betting volume can have a big impact on NBA handicappers and the point spread because oddsmakers have to compensate for the action so that they aren’t overly exposed to one team or outcome. If one team is likely to draw a big portion of the bets in a game, then, that could make all the difference you need to find value in the point spread.

How have they been playing recently? – There are points during the season of every elite NBA team during which they look far from elite. Because of injuries, a lack of focus, attitude issues or general motivation problems they will play at worse than their best. If the team is particularly popular then the public likely won’t look closely enough to see how they have been playing in the short term – they will rely on their reputation and the larger perception of their play. If a NBA team is underperforming in the short term in relationship to their reputation, then there is often a real opportunity for value when it comes to NBA point spreads if you can spot that when others haven’t.

How healthy are they? – Often with with NBA handicapping, casual bettors will look at injury reports, and will respond – often vigorously – when a key player is injured. They will spend far less time, however, looking at players that are banged up but still in the lineup. The ore information you can get about the health status of players, the better chance that you can find something that could be a difference maker in an otherwise close game. Local newspapers, fan forums, and the Twitter accounts of local analysts are all good sources of information that won’t necessarily get national exposure.

Have their stars been their best players? – One of the best quick tests of how good a NBA team is playing at a given time is how well their star players are performing. If their stars are clearly not the best players on the court in recent games then that could be an indicator of a lot of problems – an injury, motivation issues, problems with the coaches or teammates, and so on. If the stars for one team have shown in recent games while the other team’s best players have been flat then you could have a potentially profitable situation when it comes to NBA odds.

How do they matchup? – The public will often look at these games in a far too simple way; they will focus on which NBA basketball team has better players, which team is better coached, and so on. Far more important than that when it comes to NBA handicapping is how the teams match up with each other. How a player plays on a given day has more to do with who they are playing against than anything else. Does one team’s offensive approach give them an edge or a disadvantage against the opposing defense? Do the teams play similar a similar tempo, or a very different one? Which team will likely be able to set the tempo here?

How have they played in the past? – You can tell a lot about how a NBA game might turn out based on how it turned out when the teams met earlier in the season. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the team that won the last game is also going to win this one, or that it will be played in a similar style. What looking back can teach us when it comes to making expert NBA picks, though, is what obvious weaknesses the teams have to work on against this opponent that was a problem last time. Once you have identified those weaknesses for both sides you can work on determining which teams are more likely to overcome those weaknesses and play a better game this time.

Is there value? – With NBA handicapping, this is a crucial question, and one that people often don’t want to hear. When two elite NBA teams are playing in a high profile game most bettors want to have action. Action is what sports betting is all about, and the more exciting the basketball game the more exciting the action. Often times, though, these games don’t offer the best value – they are too closely scrutinized and the basketball teams are too evenly matched. If there is value to be had then by all means have it, but you need to be honest and be willing to step aside and look elsewhere if the game doesn’t offer clear value on one side – no matter how much you want to bet on it. If you’d like to check out spreads, click here for NBA odds.

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