Basketball beginners shouldn't let the large-looking scores put them off. There are plenty of trends to be exploited in the points markets, and surprising ways to customise your strategies.
To put sceptics' minds at rest, it's worth emphasising immediately how close NBA teams' average points hauls are. During the 2012/13 regular season, the lowest points average was 93.2 (Charlotte). In comparison, but hardly in contrast, top scorers Denver averaged 106.2. That's a range of just 13 points. Not a big gap for teams with respective win percentages of 69.5% and 25.6%.
Perhaps even more informative is the average difference between points for and against, that is, the winning/losing margin. Top team Oklahoma were at +9.2, while bottom team Charlotte were -9.3. And to show just how even the distribution is, Utah, who placed 15th out of the 30 teams, were at -0.1.
But what does this mean for the casual punter? First off it makes the total points market a reliable source of income when you're starting out. Predicting mismatches is the easiest way to get going here. For example, LA at Memphis (21/02/14), where the Grizzlies were favourites, exceeded Bet365 Sports’ over/under market to land at 10/11. Closer games like New Orleans Pelicans at Charlotte Bobcats (21/02/14) will usually be cagier and land under in the total points markets for the same price.
Betting regular stakes using this kind of approach is a great way to get a feel for the market and monitor the success of your strategy. And, when you feel more confident, it's worth considering whether to hedge your bets, or increase your exposure and potential winnings, by entering the team totals markets.
For those seeking an even more complex strategy, finding teams that perform particularly well either defensively or offensively, or that display particularly high scoring performances at home, for example, can help improve predictions. For example, Miami Heat averaged an impressive 104.4 points in the season to 21st February 2014; but in a four game spell on the road in January, they averaged just 97.8.
Closer trend analysis also opens up the lucrative winning margin market. Two teams with similar scoring stats make a fertile starting point here, as they reduce the likelihood of big results. Let’s return to the New Orleans Pelicans at Charlotte Bobcats (21/02/14). During the season so far, their points margins were -1.6 and -1.8 respectively, and points per game (for and against) were 200.6 and 192.4. Factor in a home advantage, and Charlotte looked an interesting prospect in a close game.
Betting on Charlotte to win by 1-2 points at Bet365 Sports offered odds of 9/1, a 3-6 point victory was 9/2 and 7-9 was 15/2. Based on the current averages, betting on a 1-2 point victory was worth a try but, as the result (89-92 to the Bobcats) showed, hedging is an even more important strategy in the winning margin market. The Pelicans/Bobcats game could have been profitably hedged by betting on a Charlotte 3-4 point victory too. And even pricing in the cost of the hedge, the profits would still exceed single bets on the total points market.
There are plenty more points markets over at Bet365 Sports, which can all be used to fine-tune a strategy. Simply observe the trends and apply your system rigorously to work out its effectiveness.