NBA Betting Tip: Road Favorites Undervalued Late in the Season

NBA Betting Tip: Road Favorites Undervalued Late in the Season article feature image

uss Isabella-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell

  • The end of the NBA regular season is in sight and motivation varies among teams trying to reach the playoffs or tanking for draft position.
  • Using the Bet Labs database, we share a profitable against-the-spread system for exploiting late-season motivation.

By this point in the NBA season, teams are either jockeying for postseason position or playing for ping pong balls. Motivation matters and in April teams clearly have different incentives.

There are currently 12 teams eliminated from the playoffs and 11 of them have a winning percentage below 45%. These teams with nothing to play for aren’t likely to give it their all on a nightly basis, which makes them targets to bet against.

Since 2005, teams facing an opponent with a winning percentage of less than 45.0% in April have gone 684-649-24 (51.3%) against the spread (ATS) per Bet Labs. While it has not been profitable to blindly bet against every bad team late in the season, this supports our theory that teams eliminated from the playoffs do not give 100% effort down the stretch.

The best strategy for wagering against bad teams in April includes fading them at home. Home-court advantage is often overrated, even for squads out of the playoff race. Since 2005, road teams facing an opponent with a winning percentage below 45% have gone 378-291-10 (56.5%) ATS in April.

The optimal approach to fading the league’s worst teams is when they are home underdogs. Of the 17,694 favorites we’ve tracked in our database, only 5,869 (31.6%) were favored on the road. For a team to be a road favorite, it must have a clear advantage over its opponent.

Road favorites against a bad team (won fewer than 45% of games) have gone 239-165-6 (59.2%) ATS in April since 2005. A $100 bettor following this system has returned a profit of $6,380. This strategy has been profitable in 13 of the past 14 seasons.

The regular season ends next Wednesday. The worst teams in the league have already made their vacation plans and are counting down the days until summer break. This will create a number of opportunities for savvy bettors to fade bad teams as home dogs.

Wednesday Matches

  • Philadelphia 76ers (-4) at Atlanta Hawks (7:30 p.m. ET)
  • Charlotte Hornets (-3) at New Orleans Pelicans (8 p.m. ET)
  • Utah Jazz (-10) at Phoenix Suns (10 p.m. ET)

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