Some NBA picks are easier than others. The Pacers have one of the better OVER records in the NBA this season. The Bucks, on the other hand, are leaning toward the UNDER.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 23: 59-52-4 ATS, 5-10 Totals, plus-2.15 units ML
As you can see by our record, we haven’t done very well against the basketball odds when it comes to betting the total. This isn’t unusual for us – our betting mojo is based primarily on taking advantage of the spread, and the common mistakes casual fans make with their NBA picks. Things like not taking injuries into account, and ignoring the quality of the bench players involved.
This is where a quant would come in handy. Totals are becoming more popular with each passing year, as more and more bettors gain access to databases and crunch the numbers like proper armchair GMs should. But we can still use our more exploitative betting strategy to get a leg up on the marketplace. And with just one game on Thursday’s NBA slate, this gives us an opportunity to really bear down on the total, rather than just pick a side when we don’t like what the spread is offering us. Up and atom~!
In the Marketplace
The one game in question, of course, is the matchup at the Bradley Center between the Indiana Pacers and the Milwaukee Bucks (8:00 p.m. ET). There’s a total of 186.5 on Thursday’s NBA odds board as we go to press; our consensus reports show some very early action on the OVER, and as they say, early action is sharp action. Also, the lower the total gets, the more likely the OVER is to get paid across the board, no matter what the sport is. This is one of the lowest totals either team has seen all season.
Let’s put that market-based jazz aside for a moment and look at the game itself. We might not have a mighty database at our disposal here at the home office, but we do have the Interwebs, and we have access to the projections at TeamRankings. They use math and algorithms and decision trees and stuff. We’re not going to give away their exact projection for the game, but we will tell you that their combined score adds up to 186.7 points. So the basketball odds look pretty tight for Thursday’s game. No surprise there – these days, the oddsmakers are looking at many of the same numbers we are.
Welcome to Dudleyville
Having established a baseline projection for Thursday’s combined score – which happens to be virtually the same as the total – now we can jump in and apply some situational thinking. First, there are the injury concerns on both teams. These are fluid situations that are difficult to pin down: Jared Dudley (12.6 PER, plus-0.8 PER) is questionable for Milwaukee, while Rodney Stuckey (16.3 PER, plus-0.3 BPM) is questionable for Indiana.
Of the two, it looks like Stuckey is less likely to play on Thursday. He’s got a freshly strained calf, while Dudley has already missed six games with a sore back. Dudley has been practicing this week, as well. He’s plus-0.4 BPM on both offense and defense this year, while Stuckey is plus-0.6 on offense and minus-0.2 on defense. In theory, that gives us a marginal lean toward the UNDER. In theory, and very marginal.
Then you have the fact that Indiana is playing on zero days of rest. This is well worth considering, and should have more impact than the presence or absence of Dudley and Stuckey. In this situation, the Pacers have the OVER at 10-5 this year. Makes sense: Although tired legs often lead to missed shots, it takes even more effort to play good defense than offense. We’re going to take this betting angle, combine it with the low total and the early action on the OVER, and let the basketball gods sort it out.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Over at BetOnline