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NBA Point Spreads

There are three basic bets you’ll usually find at online sites that feature basketball—point spread, money line, and over/under. In this article, we’re taking a look at the NBA point spread and some things to consider when playing it.

NBA point spreads will give points to the underdog and deduct points from the favorite. Here’s a recent example from a site for game five between the Cavaliers and the Pistons.

Cleveland Cavaliers +11.5 (-110)

Detroit Pistons -11.5 (-110)

When reading NBA spreads teams are listed, the bottom team is always the home team. In this example, Detroit is favored for a few reasons—they are at home, they’re favored to win the series overall and they have a better all around team than the Cavaliers. Additionally, they just lost two games straight to Cleveland, and it’s highly unlikely they will lose three in a row. In this example, you’d put $110 down to win $100 on Cleveland or $110 down to win $100 on Detroit. Detroit would need to win this game by 12 points or more, any other result would be a Cleveland victory against the spread.

The interesting thing about this real life example is that Cleveland entered the game on a roll, having won two at home, including a one-point game. Still, Detroit, according to the bookmakers, held a decided edge. Partly because up to this point neither team had won at the other’s home court.

Cleveland ended up winning the game 86-84, which meant whoever bet on Detroit lost. Now a one, two or three point win is tough on any bettor. These games have been hard fought and very close to call. We had a very strong lean to Cleveland in this game, but a very strong playoff subset (58-10 lifetime) ultimately kept us from releasing the Cavs +11.5 to members.

However, the handicapping on this contest was way off, since the bookmakers didn’t expect it to be a close game. Why was it off? Although professional handicappers are experts at developing odds, they are still certainly fallible. One thing about odds makers is they tend to be conservative. That means they usually follow longstanding trends, rather than trends that recently developed. Cleveland was on a roll—yes; but that recent development or quirk did not supercede the fact that Detroit was at home, still favored, and unlikely to lose three straight. What happens against the NBA spread? Cleveland upsets all of those ingrained trends.

So consider this—thus far in the Cleveland-Detroit series the only time that the underdog did not payoff when betting the basketball point spread was the first game. All other games, if you bet on the team that was not favored, you won. We might be taking Cleveland if the sportsbooks haven’t adjusted to this development. That is, members will take them if they are being given a decent number of points against the NBA basketball point spreads in the next game. Otherwise, it might be Detroit’s night to cover.

To read more basketball betting knowledge for experts, check out NBA handicapping focusing on NBA underdogs or grab our NBA picks today!