There are dozens of different strategies for betting on the NBA that have been popularized through the years. Some of them work better than others, but it’s important to note that none of these strategies work anywhere close to 100% percent of the time, if they did, everyone would do them (or they’d be outlawed).
Some people swear by betting against teams who are fatigued. There are betting strategies that revolve around teams playing the second half of a back-to-back, particularly on the road. There are many people who love betting on teams playing their third game in four nights, though that strategy worked so well that the NBA realized how difficult it is for teams to play three games in four nights that they essentially phased it out of the schedule. There are strategies for betting home underdogs, or betting the over when both teams are well-rested. Some people will always bet on a team with a new coach if the players were not responding to the previous coach.
However, there is one NBA betting strategy picking up steam that is worth tracking however. When teams have an usually bad performance that can’t be explained by an injury or any other outside factor, bet on them in the next game.
Bounce back following a bad loss
Let’s define unusually bad performance as a team losing by more than 20 points. Take the 2019-20 San Antonio Spurs, for example.
The Spurs first “unusually bad loss” was a 34 point drubbing, 132-98 to the Detroit Pistons. At face value, this was a terrible loss to a team with a nearly identical record. But the Spurs were missing their best player, LaMarcus Aldridge. In their next game, two days later, the Spurs were hosting the Houston Rockets. Because of their putrid performance against Detroit, the line moved from Rockets by 4 to Rockets by 7. The Spurs won the game outright, defeating Houston 135-133 in double overtime. It’s worth noting that Aldridge was still missing for the Houston game. The difference is that Detroit is one of the biggest teams in the league, and having your big man play against the Pistons, while Houston is the league’s foremost small ball team and it is far less essential to have your top big man against them. So, it’s not just having a system, or blindly following a specific NBA betting strategy, it’s also about reading the situation.
One month later, the Spurs suffered another catastrophic loss, this time by 25 points at home to the Clippers. The Spurs were one point favorites against Memphis, a team they had already lost to- at home. The Spurs bounced back from the 25 point loss with a 30 point win against the Grizzlies, their most decisive win of the entire season.
The odds makers are more likely to punish a team for a terrible loss than they are for a decisive win, but let’s crunch the numbers on what happens the game after a team wins a game decisively. We will lower the “good win” threshold to more than 15 points if the team has a losing record, since 20 point wins will be exceedingly rare.
The Spurs beat Golden State on November 1st by 17 points as a 7 point favorite. In their next game, the Spurs, a team that would ultimately end the season with a 32-39 record, were only 1.5 point underdogs to a Lakers team that would eventually win the championship. This line was influenced by the Spurs excellent performance against the Warriors, and they would indeed lose by 7.
Late in December, the Spurs beat Detrpit by 27 points, and were suddenly 11 point favorites against the Warriors. They won the game by only 4, failing to cover by a wide margin.
Finally to end the season, after beating a resting Houston team by 18 points, they were made 7.5 point faves over Utah and then failed to cover.
While this strategy is far from foolproof, the Spurs did also fail to cover after a 20 point loss, teams covered far more often than they didn’t after “bad losses.”
How to implement “Follow Bad Losses”
What you need to do to effectively implement this strategy, is to analyze why a team lost badly. If a team just happened to miss an abnormal amount of three point attempts, then betting on them to bounce back seems prudent. If they lost because a star point guard was out, but he’s still going to be out for two more games, then perhaps you should sit out the next game and see if they get blown out again. Again, there is no foolproof strategy to winning every NBA bet, but you would be best served with analyzing “bad” losses and trying to bet on the bounceback.