I do not bet regular season NBA games (nor any regular season games in any sport) as a rule. The bookies simply have too much edge against a non-professional like myself. What I like to bet are futures bets, preseason win totals, and playoff series. There is frequently a lot of edge in those bets, and my poor results so far this year notwithstanding, I generally do pretty well with them.
On rare occasions, however, when situations arise that I believe cause bookies to fall behind the curve, I will bet regular season games. Such a situation occurred two seasons ago, when the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol in midseason. I bet the Lakers to win the championship the next day at 10-1 ( a bet I was able to lay off at +170 on the Celtics in the finals). And I bet the Lakers to cover in every game for a period of about two weeks after the trade. The Lakers won their next ten games, I believe, and covered enough to make me a profit.
A different sort of situation occurred last year. Thanks to a loss they inflicted on the Warriors, I began to take notice of the Thunder. I saw that even though they had the worst record in the league, they were beginning to put it together, and playing a lot better than people expected, or the lines indicated. In other words, as with the Lakers, the bookies were slow to adjust to a changed circumstance. The lines were systematically wrong. Again, I bet the Thunder for a 2-3 week period, until the bookies adjusted their lines. I’d have to check the archives at Adam Lauridsen’s blog to be sure, but I believe the Thunder covered something like 80% of the games that I bet them.
I think I have found another situation worth betting. The commentary from the pundits about the Stephen Jackson trade has astonished me. There is nary a single NBA pundit who has ventured an opinion that this was a trade that will significantly improve Charlotte. Virtually to a man, they feel that Charlotte will again fail to make the playoffs.
I shouldn’t really say this astonishes me. I am long past the point where I expect any NBA writer to have an opinion worth listening to (except Bill Simmons). I should say I am delighted and grateful at the opportunity to make money these clowns have afforded me.
The Stephen Jackson trade made Charlotte a radically better team. Already a good defensive team, I think they got better. Jackson’s great length and versatility at the two guard position gives them an added dimension. They now have one of the biggest wing tandems in the NBA, which goes a long way towards covering up weakness in the front line. Check out the rebounding totals from the last game in Orlando. Both Jackson and Wallace got 9 rebounds.
On offense, Jackson will be a huge upgrade over Bell. His size will give him an exploitable mismatch against most of the 2-guards in the league, and Larry Brown will know how to use that. His extraordinary passing ability will get easy baskets for teammates in a way Bell never could. In Felton, Diaw and Jackson, the Bobcats now have three starters who can initiate offense. That is a recipe for instant offensive improvement.
A few other things worth mentioning. The Bobcats have had terrible offensive struggles to start the season. Part of that was due to the fact that Raja Bell was not an offensive force. I also feel that it had to do with the fact that they were missing an important player. The Bobcats acquired Flip Murray in the offseason to come off the bench as a sixth man. To those who don’t know him, Murray is an electric scorer in the Ben Gordon mold. He was injured to start the year, but now he’s back. He dumped 31 points on Orlando in the last game. Hello? I think the Bobcat’s underrated offense is about to take off.
The Bobcats believe they are a playoff team, and are frustrated by their poor start to the season. They feel like they have something to prove. And they feel a sense of urgency to get back into the playoff race. Stephen Jackson has endured several months of ridicule and abuse in the media. He has something to prove, not just to Larry Brown and the Bobcats, but to the entire world. I believe we are going to see several weeks of intense effort from the Bobcats, as they force their way into the playoff picture in the East.
Charlotte is +4 on the road against Philly tonight. I’m on the Bobcat Express.