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NBA Preseason Betting Tip: Target Underdogs Facing Playoff Teams

Sep 26, 2018 10:40 PM EDT

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving

  • The 2018 NBA preseason begins Friday, providing bettors another opportunity to build their bankrolls.
  • Using Bet Labs, we’ve identified a profitable betting system for the NBA preseason.

The NBA season is almost here. Players have reported to camp, all 30 teams have had their media days and the preseason begins Friday.

Casual fans will think nothing of these exhibition games, and rightfully so as coaches use the preseason to try new rotations, give rookies extended minutes and have veteran players go through the motions.

The games don’t count, but the preseason provides savvy bettors with another opportunity to build their bankrolls. Using Bet Labs, we’ve identified a profitable betting system for the NBA preseason.

Undervalued underdogs

A common theme in betting regardless of sport is that underdogs are undervalued. Casual bettors like wagering on favorites, and as a result, oddsmakers are inclined to shade the line toward the chalk.

The NBA preseason is no different, and with motivation difficult to handicap, there has been value betting on underdogs.

Playoff teams are overvalued

The previous season’s playoff teams are overvalued in the preseason. Typically, a team that reached the postseason the year before is less likely to give its stars heavy minutes while starters on a team that finished at the bottom of the standings will see more playing time.

>> Check out Sports Insights’ Bet Labs software to create your own winning NBA betting systems.

The edge isn’t as large as underdogs vs. favorites, but the data shows playoff teams have failed gamblers.

Since 2005, betting underdogs against an opponent that reached the playoffs the year before has an against-the-spread (ATS) record of 373-324-18 (53.5%). While this strategy is profitable, you would not want to blindly bet every system match.

To improve the system, we can use additional contrarian strategies:

  • Large dogs
  • Betting against line movement

The larger the spread, the more profitable it has been to wager on underdogs in the preseason. And when the line stays the same or moves against the underdog — meaning the team became a larger dog — the ATS winning percentage increases even more.

Since 2005, underdogs of more than three points, with line movement, facing an opponent that reached the postseason the year before have gone 230-177-13 (56.5%) ATS. This system has had a winning ATS record in nine of the last 10 seasons.

This weekend, NBA fans and bettors will be treated to seven preseason games. Lines have not been posted, but when the odds hit the board, target underdogs against playoff teams.

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