NBA bubble betting thoughts . . .
We are all creatures of habit. And if you knowingly believe that, please understand that NBA players must be the absolute replicas of that time-honored saying. You do not become a Michael Jordan or even a Giannis Antetokounmpo without disciplined rituals to follow day after day, game after game.
The point I am making here is you can imagine locking up a squad of disciplined athletes in a time capsule "bubble" in Orlando must be an extremely jolting experience for the mind. No doubt some will willfully adjust, while others are going to surprisingly crack. Adapting that for our wagering priority, DO NOT expect anywhere near the same predictable results to occur or develop for a realistic period.
The New Rules
Let us start by comprehending that the NBA spent an astonishing $170 million dollars on this ambitious experiment to keep players and everyone connected Coronavirus-free until the NBA Championship is awarded sometime in mid-October. That could blow-up immediately ala what Major League Baseball is already experiencing handling the Miami Marlins challenge. Confining everyone to one space could have an even worse inevitable result.
You must admire their dedication, but remember this type of bubble restriction has serious implications for any outsider. Team hotels are off limits. Areas where players walk around are on the no-fly list, too. Team personnel can visit the media, but reporters are prohibited from wandering over to them at any time.
The NBA requires all media members to submit practice requests two days in advance. They must complete temperature checks, pulse, etc. Coronavirus testing starts at 9. Just leaving the room requires a checklist. Any family or designated guest on the approved list must always have a mask on leaving their hotel room. There might be more rules here than a maximum-security prison.
Emergency Chicken Wings
All players will likely suffer from the recent laughable story about LA Clippers star sixth man Lou Williams. Lou will miss the Clippers first two games during a mandatory 10-day quarantine for violating NBA rules by visiting an Atlanta strip club while given permission to attend his grandfather's funeral. His excuse was he could not resist getting to the club for the famous lemon pepper chicken wings he so dearly missed while being locked up in the bubble.
Interesting point to consider. No doubt opposing fans would be waiting for 'Sweet Lou' to heckle while he was at the foul line shooting. Now that teams are in virtual silence in these empty Orlando gyms, would rival NBA players take advantage of similar opportunity?
Per NBA rules, "no opponent in the game shall disconcert the shooter once the ball is placed at his disposal." Disconcerting, per the NBA, includes "talking to the free throw shooter or talking in a loud disruptive manner during any free throw attempt." If caught, and the attempt misses, referees can award a substitute free throw!
I wonder if throwing a handful of dollar bills at Lou's feet while shooting is against NBA rules?
All Teams are the HOME Team
Again, for wagering purposes, one team will be designated the home team for each NBA game by the list of preferred sportsbooks. That is a formality because every team hopes to survive, calling this bubble facility in Orlando their home for the next three months. The bubble experiment certainly is no prison. More of a luxury summer camp with the best food and medical care possible. But again, there truly is no home team. Perhaps, the squad feeling the most at-home may be the quickest to adjust, again adding to against the point-spread surprises.
For example, teams that have benefited greatly by being at home this year, including the Philadelphia 76ers (29-2) and the Milwaukee Bucks (28-3), will likely most miss the comforts of home, while a team like the Dallas Mavericks (21-12) could enjoy some sort of advantage in point-spread comparison.
You could also make a stretch of an advantage to the West coast teams owning a minor advantage in this unique situation, including the two LA teams, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Phoenix Suns. Teams that log thousands of miles more than other teams traveling between arenas. Overall, it will be strange for all to adjust.
Spreading it Out
Depending on your perspective, it might be that much easier or harder on the NBA sports bettor to adjust and take advantage of this unique situation.
Betgenius has been anointed the official partner of the NBA in terms of providing data and assisting sportsbooks determine lines. For almost every game, sportsbooks – Betgenius partners included – have currently set spreads more evenly compared to the same matchups earlier in the 2019/20 season, while over/under points totals are in many cases as much as 10 to 15 points lower.
Given the new-look format, it is important to understand what is driving these line movements and what bookmakers will watch out for to maximize hold as the season plays out. They will quickly account for changes and watch the flow of wagering on each game moment-to-moment. A Coronavirus scratch is no different than any other injury and will be treated as such. The difference here is how it could potentially affect other players as well.
Overall, beware of those early touts already promising they are geniuses to exploit this highly unique and unusual situation. I would let a few games go finalized with cautious investment to see how things play out. Here’s hoping for universal negative COVID-19 tests through mid-October and the opportunity to bet the right opportunities along the way.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.