Category Archives: Basketball

Winning and Losing

If you’ve been paying attention recently my NFL bets have been pretty poor this season.

The good news is that my basketball betting has started the season very well. I’ve actually just had my best ever week & best ever month betting, which is down to the NBA. Looking back at my records November & December are usually a very months for me. As it’s early in the season and there’s plenty of value to be had if you can quickly figure out which teams are under/overrated compared to their preseason expectations. Also if you can have a good idea of which teams are just running hot over a small number of games.

I have many more bets on basketball than on NFL, and my stakes are many more times greater on basketball. So the way things are going I’m may very well stop betting on NFL all together.

I’ve said before that I find watching a single game of NFL extremely boring. And any time that I spend tracking results & odds could be better spent elsewhere, and will help to cut down on screen time. I put in a lot more work on basketball, I enjoy watching it even without a bet on(!). I know the amount of work I put in on basketball to be successful betting on it, and don’t do anywhere near that level on the NFL. Not that I want to either. It’s got to the stage where I would struggle to name the starting QB on each NFL team, and I wouldn’t be able to name many other players. But I could name who the 2nd backup center is for the Bucks and what he’s good & bad at.

Some people bet on many different sports, and obviously aren’t experts in all or even any of those sports. But are just getting a good number or chasing steam. Or perhaps they are following a friend or tipster. Whatever the method, they’re successful at betting on many different sports.

I prefer to specialise. It’s working for me. It’s not so much knowing the right bets to put on, it’s knowing the ones to avoid too.

Funny Looking Model

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Two posts back here I referenced the NBA model that  fivethirtyeight has. I view it from time to time just to see what they’re saying, but take it with a pinch of salt, but sometimes this is the amount of salt you need:

Lets have a look at the games from last night and tonight’s NBA slate:


There’s some pretty big edges to be found! A mere edge of 35% on the Magic tonight, whilst an edge of 188% on Memphis! Apply the Kelly criteria to that!

A couple weeks ago, prior to the Cavs winning in Toronto, they had the Raptors as more likely to win the NBA title than the Cavs, the defending champs. Crazy. They only have the Cavs as 12% likely to win it again now, which has an implied odds of 8.33 (+933 US). But most books have the Cavs around 4.20 (+320 US).

Their other models have similar large disparities to the betting market. There’s a few examples in this week’s NFL lines, the best one is that they think Kansas CIty should be favoured over Tennessee by 12 points, whilst the line is only -5 on Pinny. I don’t track how well 538 models do, obviously I doubt they’re profitable. I know that there’s a blog that tracks how well Football Outsiders’ model does. They’re currently up this season, but considerablely down the previous 2 seasons.

I see it on Twitter and hear it on podcasts where people use fivethirtyeight as a proxy for what’s likely to happen or has happened.

Oh there was a big upset last night. What chance did 538 give them?!

I would suggest that people use Pinnacle instead. If your model can’t predict events better than the betting market, then why bother using it? You might as well just check out the odds at Pinny.

The odds at Pinnacle are formed by many participants who wager a lot of money. They’re many times more efficient than the publicly available models 538 put out.

Look, creating a model is hard, so I don’t want to be too hard on 538. Although their job isn’t beating the closing line at Pinny. Their job is to get eyeballs on their website. They had plenty of eyeballs during the Presidential election. People were logging on everyday to see what Trump’s & Clinton’s chances were. They’ve had some retrospective criticism for the chances they’ve showed but, correct me if I’m wrong, they were more bullish on Trump’s chances than the other publicly available models…so there’s that!

NBA Thoughts

With roughly a quarter of the NBA season gone, here’s some points of interest from the season so far:

They are who we thought they are

Golden State are as expected, the best team in the league, and by some margin. They are nonchalantly destroying teams like they owe them money. They currently have the best Offensive Rating of all time:


Whilst it is only a quarter of the way through the season, I firmly expect GSW to finish with the best ORtg ever. Interestingly, this year’s Toronto have a ORtg of 116.1 which is the second best ever. I don’t think this is sustainable because:

  • Lowry is a .359 career 3pt shooter currently shooting .422 this season
  • TRoss is a .381 career 3pt shooter currently shooting .456 this season
  • DeRozan is shooting unsustainable numbers on long twos

They’re a good team offensively, but certainly not “second best offense of all time” good.

Who aren’t who we thought they are?

Ok let’s have a look at who’s currently over/under performing compared to the preseason win totals:


Houston are the over performing the most, whilst their Texas neighbours Dallas are having a nightmare. Mark Cuban seems to have developed a knack for backing losers…

One interesting thing about Houston over performing thus far is that they have the biggest discrepancy between games played at home v games played on the road:


Houston have played 7 fewer games at home so far and still have over performed the most. At the other end of things Philly have played 9 more games at home. They’ve lost every game on the road so far. So they’ll be getting yet another lottery pick next year.

Grind & Grind is the real Clutch City

My over bet on Houston looks good so far. My over bet on Memphis looks er, less good. As per usual the Grizzlies are over performing their point differential. Their Pythagorean wins is 10 but they’ve currently won 14. Even though I’m generally not a fan of the word ‘clutch’, they have been exactly that:

  • Played 4 OT games, won all 4
  • Played in 8 games decided by 5 points or less, won all 8.
  • Played in 5 games decided by 3 points or less, won all 5.

These are by far the best records in the league, and they’ve done this despite injuries to Parons, Conley and Carter. Looks like I was wrong on the them, but I’ve got to give them a lot of credit.

How about them Lakers?

Pre season the Lakers win total was 24.5 games. They’re currently 10-13. What happened?

Luke Walton happened.

luke-walton-crop_11_10Back when he was coaching GSW in Kerr’s absence last season they went 39-4 with him there. People were raving about him while I was more reserved as any mistake you make may not be realised when you have a team that good. Luke Walton may very well be the real deal as with the Lakers, their players are either young and promising, or old and past it. He’s even managed to get Swaggy P to play well!

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The only plausible explanation to get production from this noted moron is that Walton is a coaching god.

According to fivethirtyeight’s projections, for which you need to take with a pinch of salt, the Lakers have a 16% chance of making the playoffs. This seems about right TBF as their defence is ranked 28th, but if they do then Walton would surely win the COY.

NBA 2016/17 Season Preview


The NBA season starts on tonight. So should really have wrote about it before now. My pre-season bets have a good record, check out the previous 2 years:

2014/15 Season

2015/16 Season

Season Win Totals

Houston Rockets 40.5 games – Over

They’ll be amazing offensively, they’ll surely have a top 5 offence. But defensively er not so much. I’m sure they’ll get to .500 at least providing Harden stays healthy. They won 41 games last year and they’ve upgraded this off season and now have a coach that they know definitely won’t be leaving in the summer.

Utah 45.5 games – Over

Last season they won 40 games, which was below their points differential. They had a load of injuries last year too. They’re much deeper this year and reaching 50 games would not surprise me.

Golden State Warriors 70.5 games – Under

I bet this as soon as Durant signed there. With signing KD and letting a few guys go they aren’t quite as deep. They broke the record last season and with all the media scrutiny surrounding that they won’t be busting a gut to break it again. After last season, with the injuries they suffered in the playoffs their priority should be to rest players a lot more during the season, coast to the no.1 seed and make sure that their stars are healthy for the playoffs. Steve Kerr has recently said that he is going to rest more and experiment. They’ll be so good that they can rest players and coast to 65+ wins. Add in the chances that Curry will never have another season like his 15/16 self.

Charlotte Hornets 41.5 games – Over

I should have bet the Hornets over last season. As long as MKG stays healthy then they’ll get to above .500.

Memphis Grizzlies 45.5 games – Under

Their top players are all either old and or an injury concerns. Parsons hasn’t even been cleared to play. While Gasol is a 7 footer with major foot problems, which does not bode well. The coaching change is a red flag to me. Joerger did an amazing job last year considering the injuries and players he was left with. The big part of coaching is just getting your guys to play hard. DJ has left so we’ll see if that was down to him, or the team/players etc.

Sacramento Kings 31.5 games – Over

Related to the Memphis under, I’m a Dave Joerger fan. He’s got Boogie and enough sidekicks to get them above 31 games.

Brooklyn Nets 19.5 games – Over

They are going to be bad, but not under 20 wins bad. They don’t even own next year’s draft pick so there isn’t an incentive to tank. I am concerned that they might trade Brook Lopez away though.

NBA Championship

The Warriors are the odds on favourites for the title. They’re the shortest price preseason since a bloke called Michael Jordan played in Chicago. GSW are so good that they’d be the favourites even if one of Durant or Curry was injured. The Warriors won 73 games last season and they’re going to be better this season, whilst their main rivals have all got worse:

  • Cavs – Lebron is another year older in his 30s. Last playoffs is the best we may see of Irving. They don’t currently have a decent backup PG.
  • Spurs – They’re really going to miss Duncan and I worry about their defence with Parker and Gasol.
  • Thunder – Durant left them so they’re one large step closer to that irrelevance I spoke of last season. Westbrook may leave in 2 years’ time, but he’s the sort of player that won’t age well as he’s heavily reliant on his athleticism and is a poor shooter.

As long as Lebron is healthy then his team will win the East. His team has won the East the last 6 years which is incredible. So call me Mr Bold but I’m firmly expecting a Cavs Warriors Finals, and the Warriors to win it all.


Best player on a winning team (high seed) – that’s what you need to bear in mind. Which is why I think the odds on Westbrook are ridiculous. The Thunder won’t win enough games for him to be in contention.

KD and Curry may end up splitting votes as they’re on the same team. I think KD should be shorter odds than Curry though. KD will likely score more points, and I don’t think Curry will repeat his all-time great performance of last season.

Elsewhere, Lebron’s odds are too short. The Cavs will get the no.1 seed in the East but he’ll probably coast the regular season again and might have a 2 week break in Miami for some R&R… Kawhi is the best player on a top team but I expect the Spurs to take a step back and he’ll end up sharing the offensive load with LA and Gasol. Harden will put up a lot of points but will have the same issue as Westbrook as his team won’t win enough games.

To sum up: I haven’t put a bet on, as I don’t have any strong feelings.

Rookie of the Year

The ROY usually goes to whoever scores the most PPG.

I don’t watch college hoops as I think it’s a joke. The majority of players aren’t good enough to play professionally in Europe, and the games are boring IMO.

So I’ll probably do what I did last year: watch the first month and keep an eye on the odds.

Coach of the Year

Ok after last year’s travesty I have to adjust the rules to the COY:

  • It usually goes to the coach of the team that has won the most games.
  • or the coach of the team with the most “unexpected” wins (Actual wins – expected wins)
  • It does not go to the coach of the defending champs…unless he’s called Red Auerbach or the Warriors win a record number of games!
  • And nobody wins back to back COY. NOBODY!

I’m still seething after Terry Stotts got screwed out of it. Steve Kerr won it with the black swan event of winning a record 73 games, despite not coaching for more than half the season! The charlatans in the media justified their vote with the narrative of “he set a winning culture there”. Yeah he did that the previous season when I actually backed Kerr at 20/1 and he came 2nd!

The Warriors will win the most games. For Kerr to be the first coach to repeat as COY they would have to win more than 73 games. Lue and Pop are too short for this as I think both teams won’t outperform expectations.

So I’m looking for underrated teams to outperform expectations, which has led me to the following bets:

  • Stevens 16/1
  • Synder 20/1
  • Clifford 50/1
  • Malone 150/1
  • Joerger 250/1

Basketball at the Olympics – Semi Finals

Both semi-finals are on this evening. The quarterfinals weren’t a great spectacle as the 3 games that were on at a reasonable hour here in the UK were all blowouts. But at least the bet that I recommended here last time won. I backed under 190.5 in the USA v Argentina game, which landed despite another fast paced game and some good outside shooting.

Even early in the game before it got out of hand, Argentina didn’t play slow enough. Team USA have far, far superior talent to your team. Do you want to maximise possessions, or minimize them? But that’s one of the first rules of prediction; thinking about what teams will do, instead of what they should do. When team’s play a certain way it’s not easy to change it drastically v USA, and coaches generally prefer to build their players up and don’t want to say something like “look guys, it’s a near certainty that we’re going to lose this game. In fact, we’ll probably going to get destroyed. But to improve our tiny chances I want you play a different style that the audience isn’t going to like…”

Anyway Spain don’t play fast and it will be a lot more competitive than Argentina and so under 187.5 is worth a look. On the money line USA opened up at 1.14, came in to 1.09 and are back out to 1.11. Interestingly the odds of them winning gold before the tournament started was 1.10, so it shows how bad they have been defensively so far.

In the other semi I like Australia to get past Serbia. They opened up at 1.72 and have come into 1.51, I wouldn’t be backing them at those odds now though. Australia were competitive against the US, and were actually leading at one point in the 4th quarter, and they’ve handily won every other game.

So it looks like it’s going to be Australia v USA for the gold on Sunday.