You don’t have to be a handicapping genius to know that basketball is an extremely streaky game. This is not only true within each individual game but within each season or portion thereof. One good quality to develop if you want to be a successful NBA handicapper is to learn to understand and ‘read’ these streaks to know when to play on or against specific teams.
All of a sudden the Detroit Pistons are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve won 4 straight and 8 of their last 10 going 6-4 against the spread. The run has included some impressive wins at home being the Raptors and Pacers. It also included a forgettable win on Friday night in Chicago when the Pistons beat the Bulls 112-104 and covered as a -4 point away dog.
Most people know that ‘Sports Handicapping 101’ dictates that in ‘quick rematch’ games you should look first to play on the team that lost the first game in the second game. There’s a number of valid reasons for this dynamic that have nothing to do with betting or line value. Teams that lose to one opponent and play them again within a matter of a few days want to redeem themselves. More importantly, they’ve learned some tactical information about their foe and learned what works and doesn’t work for them. The team that wins the first game usually doesn’t have the same degree of motivation to make adjustments. Like the old saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. It’s also tougher to enter a game with the same degree of competitive focus if a team knows that they beat an opponent the last time out.
This is particularly true if the opponent is a forgettable one and they don’t come much more forgettable than the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are 19-48 SU and have been awful both at home (8-26 SU) and on the road (11-21 SU). There’s not a way to put a positive spin on Chicago’s season but they have shown a bit more competitive spirit of late winning 6 of 10 both straight up and against the spread. The biggest thing that the Bulls have working for them? Opponents both good and bad think they can just ‘phone it in’ and beat them.
Detroit is just not good enough to have that mindset about any opponent–even one with the W/L record of the Bulls. The public has no interest in the Bulls either which by definition means that you can find line value by betting on them. The Bulls have been reasonably competitive on the road this season. Despite their 11-21 SU record they’re 17-14-1 against the spread. Detroit’s home record looks decent (20-13 SU) but that’s just 16-16-1 ATS.
Overall we’ve got a complacent favorite, an undervalued and hard trying dog, a quick rematch game and an early start time. We’ll take the Bulls plus the points.