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Late Season NBA Betting

   by Al McMordie - 03/28/2007

There are a couple of key points to keep in mind from a handicapping perspective as the NBA season begins to wind down. One is that this is the end of a long season. That means teams have had to endure a lot of road trips, airline flights, and all the difficulties that hinder a professional team away from home. Keep in mind that road trips can be very different early in the year, in mid-season and late in the season.

For early season road trips, teams are fresher and can even look forward to trips as a challenge to see how good they are. Late in the year, however, it can be far more of a hassle and a grind as we approach the end of an 82-game season. Bad teams can be more interested in getting the season over with, and even good teams can be more interested in staying healthy, seeing road trips as more of a drag than a challenge.

For instance, a team to watch this week is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are beginning a 5-game road trip. By the time April 8th rolls around, the Cavs will be playing 7 of 8 games on the road. The Indiana Pacers recently played 8 of 11 on the road and went 1-10 SU, 4-7 ATS during that stretch. It's easier to get up for road trips earlier in the season. In Indiana's case, the long season has been a disappointment and the team didn't appear to have any interest in playing hard during that recent road stretch. They appeared tired mentally and physically, which is not uncommon.

In addition, line-up changes can be taking place that affect the performance of a team. The Clippers are 7-1 against the spread the last 8 games. A big reason is that they've given Corey Maggette more playing time and he's produced. The Miami Heat are 11-4 SU/10-5 ATS with guard Jason Williams back in the lineup after he sat out with an abdominal tear. He's been a key part of the Heat's late-season surge, both straight up and against the number.
<> Seattle is another team to take a look at. Frankly, it's been a long, lousy season for the Sonics, still one of the worst defensive teams in the league (they allow 47% shooting, third worst). Superstar guard Ray Allen is out for the season, and the Sonics have lost 7 of 10 and are 4-8-2 ATS their last 14 games. In short, the loss of Allen is forcing them to contemplate a different style of basketball. "When Ray's not here, we're missing 26 points every night and we're not always going be able to score 100 points especially with me getting double teamed and not being able to get the type of numbers I get with Ray being here," Rashard Lewis said last weekend. "Our defense will have to step up to keep us in the game and try to win the fourth quarter." For the season the team averages 99 ppg, but in three games last week, the offense scored 85, 77 and 79. That's a significant drop!

The Lakers recently got some key role players back, augmenting their depth and star power, with Luke Walton and Lamar Odom. Notice that their offense has picked up, with LA winning 5 in a row (all 5 went over the total) before Tuesday's loss to Memphis. This is why stats and trends are only one small part of the handicapping equation. Changes take place all the time, and it's imperative to keep up and know how to apply these changes, if necessary, with respect to betting numbers. Good luck, as always, Al McMordie.

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