Statistics in any sport should be a very important part of the overall sports handicapping process, but too many numbers tend to bog that process down. This is especially true when it comes to betting on NBA games. Other factors such as extended road trips, nagging injuries and bad matchups can combine to mitigate the importance of statistics in general.
The trick to using stats when it comes to breaking down NBA games is focusing your energy on the ones that can have the biggest impact on the game at hand. Most times at this level, players win games as part of the team effort. If James Harden is shooting lights out from three-point range, Houston has a great chance to end up on top that night. If LeBron James has an off night, it is going to be much harder for the Los Angeles Lakers to win against any other NBA team they are playing that night.
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Understanding the pertinent stats for a team’s top three or four players is going to paint a pretty clear picture of that team as a whole. Basketball at this level is still a team sport, but games are controlled and eventually won or lost by individual performances. When breaking down player performances, most of the weight should be placed on their last four or five games. This will give you a much better gauge on current form, which is far more important than overall season averages.
Scoring in general is an important stat, especially when betting the NBA total line. The sportsbooks are never shy about setting the total high when two potent offenses take the court against one another, but if both teams play to their scoring potential, the closing line will still not be high enough. Taking things one step further, you should always take into consideration a team’s scoring average on its home court verse that same average of the road. These types of team scoring stats should also be broken down over shorter increments of time as opposed to only looking at season averages.
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Scoring points is one thing and shooting the ball is another. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand, but you will always want to put more emphasis on a team (and player’s) field goal percentage. Teams that shoot the ball well on a consistent basis are going to win a bigger percentage of their games as opposed to teams that do not shoot the ball well game after game. Even the best shooters in the league go through dry spells during an extended 82-game season, so keep these results current as well.
Team and player’s shooting percentage are also good stats to break down between playing at home and playing on the road. You would be surprised at the numbers for some of the best shooting teams in the league at home verse on the road. Shooting three-point shots has become such a big part of the pro game, you should also take note of these same stats in the statistical category of shooting percentages.
Looking at some of the nightly NBA final scores, you might tend to discount the importance of defensive stats in the league. Many a game has been won or lost with defense being the top factor. Some teams try to play defense on a regular basis and others simply try and outscore their opponent night after night.
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When two defensive-minded teams face one another, this should trigger interest in the UNDER on the total line. You already know that the number will be set low, but if both teams are playing at a high level defensively coming into that matchup, there is a good chance it will remain a low-scoring affair.