4 Profitable NBA Betting Strategies for Season-Opening Matchups

4 Profitable NBA Betting Strategies for Season-Opening Matchups article feature image
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Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens talks with Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8).

  • NBA teams will play their first games of the 2019-20 season on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Using Bet Labs, we share four profitable strategies for betting on NBA season-opening matchups.

The 2019-20 NBA season got underway on Tuesday night and continues on Wednesday night with 11 season opening games.

If you’re going to bet these games, and you probably are, here are a few strategies for Game 1 in the NBA.


Odds as of Wednesday afternoon and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).


NBA Underdogs

Casual bettors like wagering on good teams, usually favorites. Oddsmakers know this and tend to shade lines toward the chalk. Contrarian bettors can exploit this habit by betting underdogs.

According to Bet Labs, teams getting points in the first game of the season have gone 113-99-2 (53.3%) against the spread (ATS) since 2005. While profitable, betting every underdog in Game 1 isn’t an optimal strategy.

Gamblers can have more success by taking home underdogs. These pooches have gone 42-24 (63.6%) ATS.

1st Game, Opponent Already Played

Game experience is overrated, at least when teams first lace up their shoes. On Thursday, the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks play their season openers. The Warriors host the the Clippers and the Hawks travel to Detroit to play the Pistons. It will be the second game for the Clippers and Pistons.

Teams playing their first game against an opponent that has already played have gone 37-28-1 (56.9%) ATS since 2005. Underdogs in this scenario are an even better 22-12-1 (64.7%) ATS.

Bad Teams 

The New York Knicks were the worst team in the NBA last season, winning a league-low 17 games. The Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63), Phoenix Suns (19-63) and Chicago Bulls (22-60) were also among the league’s cellar dwellers.

Recreational gamblers are likely to fade these teams after bad seasons, but in Game 1 that is mistake. Teams that won fewer than 25 games the season prior have gone 37-25-1 (59.7%) ATS since 2005.

Teams on the other end of the spectrum haven’t done as well as the public would expect. Teams that won 60 or more games the year before are 9-13 ATS in openers. The Milwaukee Bucks (60-22) were the only team to win 60 or more games in the 2018-19 season.

Betting Against the Public

Fading the public is a great strategy early in the season. The more casual bettors load up on a team in the first game the more money contrarian gamblers make.

Unpopular teams in Game 1:

  • <50% of bets: 116-105-1 (52.5%) ATS
  • <40% of bets: 65-53-1 (55.2%) ATS
  • <30% of bets: 24-11-1 (68.6%) AT

Teams getting less than 40% of spread bets have gone 65-53-1 (55.2%) ATS since 2005.