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Mears: Don’t Ignore the Value of Betting NBA Quarter Spreads

Mears: Don’t Ignore the Value of Betting NBA Quarter Spreads article feature image

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35).

  • Not only can you wager on full-game NBA spreads, you can also bet on the outcome of each quarter.
  • Some teams, like the Warriors in the third quarter, have drastic splits in specific quarters, making it potentially profitable to bet quarter spreads.

Betting NBA game spreads and over/unders is tough, and unless you have a definable edge, you're likely to go right about 50% over the long run, slowly losing money on the sportsbook's juice.

But there are other ways to bet, and we at the Action Network do our best to highlight some of those opportunities, be it player props, futures or … quarter spreads.

That's right: Not only can you bet the game spread — you can also bet the spread on any single quarter of basketball. And I think it might be where the biggest edge currently exists in the betting marketplace.

Let me explain.

Why Betting Quarter Spreads Can Be Profitable

In 2017-18 regular-season games, the Warriors ranked third in the league with a +5.9 net rating. But that doesn't mean they were +1.5 for each quarter. In fact, the Warriors were all over the place during the season:

  • 1st quarter: +0.6 net rating
  • 2nd quarter: +5.4 net rating
  • 3rd quarter: +17.4 net rating
  • 4th quarter: +0.0 net rating

And the intriguing thing is that many books, for now, offer quarter lines mostly based on the total-game spread. For example, if the Warriors are 12-point favorites over the Grizzlies, they will likely be 3-ish point favorites in each quarter.

As you can see, however, the Warriors were definitely not the same team in each quarter; they were lazy out of the gate and then blew out teams in the third quarter.

We'll see if sportsbooks adjust to team-specific trends such as this one and whether these trends change this upcoming season. But it's definitely something to monitor early on and could be a nice edge.

For your reference, here were the Net Ratings for each team in each quarter last season:

Quarters to Watch This Upcoming Season

Here are a few quarters that particularly stand out.

Warriors in the 3rd quarter: I'm not sure if this trend will hold true tonight for Game 1 of the season against the Russell Westbrook-less Thunder, but I think it could be viable over the course of this season. The Warriors have almost no reason to push themselves hard during the regular season, and they can mope around and put things away again after halftime.

Rockets in the 1st quarter: Especially with Eric Gordon potentially moving into the starting lineup this season to take Trevor Ariza's spot, it's likely Houston will get things running early and often. I think it's also possible that teams have trouble adapting to Houston's offensive scheme, which is historically 3-point heavy and way spaced out.

76ers in the 1st quarter: This one I'm a little unsure of, mostly because Markelle Fultz is starting over JJ Redick, which will really hurt Philly's shooting. The starting lineup with Redick last season was analytically perhaps the best fivesome in the NBA, and it looks like Brett Brown will start that lineup in the third quarter instead of the beginning of the game. I'll be targeting the 76ers after halftime this year.

Thunder in the 1st quarter: Like with the Rockets, I think this may have to do with opponents having to get used to the steamroller that is Westbrook. I wouldn't bet this one tonight because of Russ' absence, but I think it's worth monitoring once he returns from injury.

Raptors in the 2nd quarter: Most teams play their starting lineups to begin the first and third quarters, which means the second quarter is more bench-heavy than the rest. It's no surprise then that the Raptors, who had perhaps the best and deepest bench in NBA history last season, posted a ridiculous +11.5 Net Rating in the second. That bench should be excellent yet again.

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Nick Sterling
Feb 29, 2024 UTC