Four NBA Handicapping Tips You Should Know About

By: Aubrey Moore, Staff Writer
April 7, 2022

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Oakland Arena, Home of the Golden State Warriors

Handicapping in sports is a practice that doesn’t come easily for everyone, especially for beginners. However, it is what separates recreational bettors from professionals. In many ways, just like any form of sports betting, novice bettors feed the sportsbooks while professionals feed their bankroll.

So, if you’re tired of losing or just want to take your betting know-how to the next level, this article is for you. You can do many things to give yourself a good chance at winning in NBA betting. From looking at the teams’ schedules, injuries, trades, etc., there’s a lot of money to be made if you develop an eye for handicapping in the NBA.

By following the tips below, you can be assured of winning a few more games than usual. But, of course, only if you pair it with a good deal of research and luck. With that said, here are a few handicapping tips you should know as an NBA bettor.

Check the Matchups

Matchups are an important factor in handicapping. Some teams like to play fast and constantly push the pace, while others take it slow and are more comfortable in a half-court setting. In this case, underdogs who are slow-paced are worth looking at, especially when they are up against a fast-paced opponent.

If you’re having difficulty figuring out which team is slower in a matchup, look at their possessions per game. Also, offensive and defensive points per possession are an excellent way of comparing the teams when it comes to pacing instead of looking at their points. For example, a fast-paced team will constantly try to score and allow more points against them.

On the other hand, a slow-paced team will adjust their pace with their possessions, and then you can determine which team has more efficient gameplay during each possession.

Look for Value

There are over 1000 games in a single NBA season, and it can be overwhelming to try and bet on all of the NBA lines. What’s more, finding value among a thousand games can also be tricky. That said, how do you find value? You can calculate the differential between two teams and then assess the odds' relative value conferred to you. Sounds complicated? It sure is, but let’s give you an example.

Let’s say that bookie #1 has the Lakers favored by -6.5 over the Rockets while bookie #2 has the Lakers at -7. In this case, betting on bookie #2 can be a more favorable option because of the half-point. Why? A half-point alone can constitute an additional win percentage of 1.7%. Sure, there’s also a chance of having a push, but choosing between winning and pushing is much better than having options between winning and outright losing the bet.

Line Movement

Of course, as we all know, any bookie’s goal is to make money, same as you. Therefore, the moment a bookie publishes a bet, the line will continually shift to make up for the odds. For example, when the action comes heavily on one side, there will be no profit for them, which is why in this case, they make the other team also worth it to bet on. But what does this mean to you as a bettor?

During this influx of odds, there are instances where you can take advantage of great value. For example, team one is heavily favored, and many people are betting on them, leaving only a few people betting on the underdog. The bookie will make the playing field even by giving the underdog bets more payout or a smaller spread to cover.

This is a good chance to bet on the underdog because you will have a better chance to win and potentially win bigger payouts. However, this happens quickly, so you will have to watch when this happens.

Watch Out for Home Games

Home teams tend to shoot better and often have less fouls called. That said, home teams have a chance of winning 60% of their games, which you can translate into a three-point edge in covering the spread.

Another edge that home teams have is that they often have to travel less. Away teams often have to travel back to back if they have a tight schedule, making them more tired during games and less efficient as a team. It should also be noted that home teams have a slight advantage on the betting lines.

Final Words

These are very good handicapping tips that you should know by heart. Although they give you a better chance of winning your bets, it doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed a win every time you use these handicapping tips. But by following these tips and having a little bit of luck, you might just go home with a little more money in your pocket.