The NBA season is in full swing, and there are some intriguing games on tap for today. While it can be tempting to try to pick winners in every single game, the wise strategy is to be selective and focus on spots that offer the most betting value. Here are some key factors to evaluate when handicapping today's slate and making your NBA picks:
Look for scheduling advantages. This time of year, the schedule starts to get very condensed with more back-to-backs and three games in four nights spots. Watch for rested teams going up against tired legs. Fresh legs usually equate to better shooting and intensity on defense. You'll want to target the rested side if the line hasn't adjusted enough for the scheduling discrepancy.
Examine lineup trends prior to making your 1st half NBA picks. NBA coaches are constantly tinkering with their rotations and minutes can fluctuate on a game-to-game basis. You'll want to monitor pre-game reports closely to see if any star players might sit out or if key reserves are stepping into bigger roles. Lineup changes can create mismatches to exploit.
Trust the statistical trends. While recent form doesn't necessarily guarantee future results, teams that have been hot offensively or struggled defensively over the past handful of games are more likely to see those trends continue, at least in the short term. Ride the streaks but understand regression could be coming.
Watch the lines and totals. Oddsmakers will adjust the spreads and totals to account for injuries, scheduling advantages and team trends. But they won't always adjust enough. Be ready to pounce when you spot a number that seems out of whack with reality. More often than not, the oddsmakers know what they're doing. But they aren't perfect.
Take home vs. away records into account. The home crowd can't put the ball in the basket, but it does impact the game. Home teams play a bit harder with fans cheering them on. Look to back quality teams on their home floor, especially if it's a raucous arena like Denver or Utah.
Don't overreact to a single game. One huge win or bad loss doesn't necessarily change a team's overall profile. Be cautious about drastically changing your opinion of a team based on the most recent result unless major lineup changes are involved or there are new injuries/returns in play. Trust the big picture trends.
Save your biggest bets for divisional matchups. Familiar opponents breed contempt...and close games. Teams always get up for games against their division rivals, leading to hard-fought affairs that often come down to the closing possessions. Expect an all-out battle that could swing either way rather than a blowout when two teams from the same division take the court.
Respect elite teams after a loss. The NBA's best squads rarely lose two games in a row. A team like Milwaukee coming off an upset loss is primed for a get-right game. Consider backing elite teams off a defeat, especially if they were rested when the loss occurred.
Be careful with monster underdogs. Big spreads in the NBA often end up a bit inflated. Even the worst teams can keep games relatively close by slowing down the pace and putting up points in garbage time. Massive point spread underdogs are worth a look, especially if they are on two day's rest facing a team on a back-to-back.
Watch out for letdown spots. They happen frequently - a team pulls off a huge upset followed by a lackluster performance the next game. Young inconsistent teams are most vulnerable. Make sure there isn't big upset potential before laying points with a team coming off an emotionally draining win.
Trust your gut on totals. Some teams consistently play higher or lower scoring games based on their style of play. If you've noticed a pattern, don't ignore it. The oddsmakers may not have caught up to changes in how a team is playing recently. You'll want to trust what your observations tell you.
Hopefully these NBA betting tips will point you in the right direction when evaluating today's slate of games. The key is to stay selective and capitalize when you spot something the oddsmakers may have missed. There are always opportunities to gain an edge if you put in the research and trust your instincts. While no picks can ever be guaranteed winners, making educated bets will pay off over the long run.
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