The NBA regular season is coming to a close. That’s bad news for sports betting in Arizona. And, bad news for bettors in particular.
Major TV networks will continue to air games of the few teams still fighting for playoff positioning. However, most teams will not be taking these last few games seriously. That makes betting on NBA games difficult. So is there still a way to cash in on the final games of the NBA season? Or are we all better off just waiting for the playoffs?
AZ sportsbooks scramble to account for load management
The NBA regular season is an 82-game marathon. Back in the 90s, it was considered a badge of honor when a star player was able to play in all 82 games. However, that is no longer the case in the modern NBA. In today’s era, teams find particular moments during the season to give their stars players rest.
The NBA has regulations on resting players that could cause teams to face fines for sitting healthy players in instances that include nationally televised games. But those rules aren’t strictly enforced during the end of the regular season.
However, online betting sites usually don’t get the information on which players are resting when until the day of the games. That can put bettors in a bind. Betting lines are constantly moving, and player prop totals go up and down like a roller coaster.
The tricky part is that it is hard to gauge just how much resting stars will impact an NBA game.
Beware of the unknown
Star players resting creates multiple problems for bettors. Arguably the worst of them is the introduction to unknown commodities.
Let’s take the Phoenix Suns, for example. Phoenix rested three starters in Sunday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder: Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder. Without them, Booker and Ayton in particular, there is no way of knowing where most of the Suns’ offense will come from.
However, Phoenix is the best team in the league, so AZ sportsbooks still pegged them as a heavy favorite.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City has been one of the worst teams in the league this season. They have been resting star players as well. But while Phoenix is resting players ahead of a playoff run, many assume OKC is resting players to ensure more losses to help their draft position.
But the joke is on all of us. Here is the Thunder’s starting lineup:
- PG – Théo Maledon
- SG – Vit Krejčí
- SF – Aaron Wiggins
- PF – Aleksej Pokuševski
- C – Isaiah Roby
The average fan or sports bettor may not recognize a single name on that list, and that is where the trouble comes in. When you aren’t familiar with certain players, you have no way of knowing what they are capable of.
I had never heard of Olivier Sarr before Sunday’s game. He came off the bench for OKC and ended up with a career-high 24 points to lead the Thunder in scoring as they blew out the Suns in a 117-96 win. I’m willing to bet that less than 1% of Arizona sports bettors had the over on his point total.
Should we all stay away from late-season NBA betting?
Betting on NBA games is fun. But it isn’t easy, especially during this portion of the season. Thankfully, it won’t last long.
The NBA playoffs are right around the corner. That’s when the best teams will be throwing out their best stuff.
So when it comes to placing wagers on the NBA, I would say take a week off. With so much uncertainty on who will be playing and who will be resting, it is nearly impossible to gauge where the betting momentum is headed.
It’s going to be a struggle for betting sites as well. And if they are going back and forth with the odds on their spreads and moneylines, then imagine what it must be like for you to try and figure it all out.