NBA Betting Tip: Leverage Tanking Teams to Find Value Monday Night

NBA Betting Tip: Leverage Tanking Teams to Find Value Monday Night article feature image

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23)

  • NBA bettors can take advantage of bad teams that are incentivized to lose late in the season.
  • Using Bet Labs, we share a winning NBA betting system that finds value with tanking teams.

“We’re trying to tank,” shouted Spike Lee during last night’s Academy Awards. The acclaimed director and noted New York Knicks fan was responding to Samuel L. Jackson after the  actor announced the Knicks had ended an 18-game home losing streak with a 130-118 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

New York is now 12-48 on the season, the second-worst record in the NBA behind the Phoenix Suns (11-50). The Knicks, Suns and the rest of the league’s cellar dwellers are tanking for the right to select Duke’s Zion Williamson with the first pick in the NBA draft.

Tanking is a dirty word in the NBA, but winning is not the best option for teams out of the playoff race. Knowing franchises are incentivized to lose, how can bettors profit from tanking in the NBA?

Historically, there has been value buying low on the league’s worst teams, though that isn’t the case late in the season.

Using the Bet Labs database, we find that bad teams after the All-Star break (approximately game number 55 or later) have not been profitable when facing an opponent in the playoff hunt (won at least 48.0% of games) since 2005.

The spread is supposed to account for a team’s lack of motivation, but even oddsmakers have a hard time adjusting for tanking. Teams with losing records consistently fail to cover the spread against teams that are trying to win down the stretch.

Therefore, gamblers should fade teams that aren’t giving it their all. Betting against home underdogs that have won less than 40% of their games late in the season is an optimal strategy.

This system has a large sample size and consistent year-to-year results – only two losing seasons in the past 14 years. When NBA teams don’t try, bettors profit.

Betting System Matches

Here are two games on Monday that feature tanking teams:

Portland Trail Blazers (-9.5) at Cleveland Cavaliers (7 p.m. ET)

The Blazers are looking to earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs while the Cavs are just three games behind the Suns for the worst record in the league.

Los Angeles Lakers (-5) at Memphis Grizzlies (8 p.m. ET)

LeBron is trying to extend his postseason streak to 14 straight seasons. The Lakers have a 29-30 record and are three games out of the 8-seed in the West. LeBron and LA are highly motivated to beat the Grizzlies.