Betting on Bad Teams and Ugly Underdogs is a Difficult Dilemma for Bettors
There is less than one week remaining in the NBA regular season as teams push towards the playoffs in their final 4-5 games. But for the eight bottom teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention, there is lost hope. For bettors, betting on those 'bad' teams is rarely considered. The dilemma of choosing between a bad team, a winning team or one seemingly more attractive seems obvious. Especially for a team that has something to play for as the season winds down.
So being a contrarian bettor is difficult, and can produce a difficult dilemma when looking at the match-ups and odds at the leading online sportsbooks. But their are times you need to get out of your comfort zone and become contrarian to 'man up' to the situation. Tonight may be the situation to swallow if you can stomach the dilemma.
Let's look at the Monday NBA match-ups on May 10.
Indiana Pacers (31-36) at Cleveland Cavaliers (21-47)
Consensus betting lines at top online sportsbooks BetOnline, Bookmaker, Bovada, MyBookie and Jazz Sportsbook.
Line: Pacers -8.5
Moneline: Pacers -360, Cavaliers +290
This line has been rising sharply since opening Indiana -3 at some leading online sportsbooks Sunday night. Others opened the Pacers -6.5 this morning.
One leading online sportsbook sent me NBA betting data this morning, and the Pacers are taking 93% of the spread bets and 97% of the money (handle) ATS.
The Cavaliers are eliminated from the NBA postseason, while the Pacers are still battling for a play-in tournament berth. Indiana is surprisingly 19-15 on the road this season, but just 12-21 at home. The Pacers have a losing ATS record at 28-39. But the Cavaliers, well, have the worst ATS record in the Association at 24-44 ATS.
The Pacers lost a grueling and meaningful overtime game Saturday at home to Washington, 133-132. It was the Pacers third loss in their last four games, and now they go from underdog in their last two games to a big road favorite at Cleveland with the Pacers playoff picture showing them holding on to the No. 10 seed for a spot in the upcoming play-in tournament.
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But bettors clearly have no interest in betting on Cleveland, as the Cavaliers have lost 10 straight games. They are also 0-10 ATS over that disastrous stretch. That includes six losses in a row by at least 15 points. One of those was in overtime, a 16-point loss to Phoenix as a 12.5-point underdog. That stings, and the Cavs have been a double-digit underdog in five straight games and failed to cover. Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, well that's another sorry story. The Cavaliers also lost 10 straight games during the month of February this year while also going 0-10 ATS. Strange and awful, but true.
The Cavs now play with no rest following another blowout loss at home Sunday to the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavaliers have been undermanned, and last night Cleveland played without assist leader and No. 2 scorer Darius Garland, Cedi Osman, Matthew Dellavedova, Larry Nance Jr., Taurean Prince, Dylan Windler, Lamar Stevens and Isaiah Hartenstein. Kevin Love returned from a one game absence and scored just 8 points.
Injuries and other situations like the Cavaliers missing bodies and mismatched lineups need to be evaluated when betting and looking at ATS situations outlined below.
NBA Contrary Betting Situation
Now that we've clarified how awful the Cleveland Cavaliers are, let's look at a proven and profitable situation from the Sports Data Query Language (SDQL) database. Here's the situation that was passed along to me by a colleague.
1) Play on team is an underdog
2) Play on team has a season to date scoring margin of -7 or worse
3) Play on team has lost at least 2 games in a row by 15 or more points
Since the start of the 2015 season these teams have gone: 50-90 SU, but 93-54-2 ATS for a 63% ATS win rate to an average line of +8.1 points.
The Cavaliers should have broken through for the ATS win in their 16-point overtime home loss to Phoenix on May 4. That was the same situation as above, but the Cavs have now failed three more times in the same role and ATS profile. So if you can stomach betting on the Cavaliers and get past the injuries and awful play, then consider betting Cleveland as a big home underdog.
For the record, the teams with a negative scoring margin of 7 points or more are Houston (-7.9), Cleveland (-8.5), Orlando (-8.8) and Oklahoma City (-10.7). The Timberwolves (-6.0) are close, but follow along and use this as a guideline as you put this situation to use and consider a contrary bet on an ugly underdog.
Starting with the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight.
You can bet on it.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay