With the NBA finally returning in a very different manner to what we’re used to, it’s worth taking a look at how the new normal will impact bettors during the first few games back.
This is not the NBA we know. Regular season crowds may lack the intensity of the playoffs but they are a lot louder than absolute silence. While artificial crowd noise won’t make it as obvious at home, the players will hear every squeak of a sneaker, ever adjustment of a chair, and every bit of banter at the free throw line.
That’s just not normal and expecting teams to perform identically in a bubble environment to a regular game, be it at home or on a road trip, is just foolish. Basketball is a game of fractions of inches. If you’ve got a buddy in a rec league who is a bit better than you it’s worth thinking about the gulf in quality. They may be a lot better than you but the gap between them and the worst NBA player is like an ocean while that between the worst NBA player and the best is a drop of water by comparison.
Let’s the line here for the Celtics and the Bucks for a good example of why this isn’t normal hoops.
Now, if I’m betting normally, I’m taking Milwaukee with the points because they have a great team that defends its home court really well but this isn’t Milwaukee, it’s Disneyworld. The Bucks play the type of athletic game that takes more than a few scrimmages to iron out. Boston, by comparison, are suited to get a better start in the bubble even if the Bucks are my pick to win the whole thing.
Now we jump to some more to get inside the madness that we’re dealing with. Look at the number for the Jazz and the Pelicans.
Here we see the Jazz, an ostensibly superior side, as underdogs. If this were a true road game, that makes a heap of sense as the home advantage of New Orleans gets factored in. The market however is also reckoning the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell beef is still going to be an issue but it hasn’t taken into account the extended absence of Zion Williamson from New Orleans. It’s the type of poor adjustment we should expect in these early days of bubble hoops.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the number for the Heat and the Nuggets below.
This one is just baffling. The Nuggets are great but they have the same issues as the Bucks in terms of getting their game up to speed and they are making some wild positional adjustments. They need a few games to get their game together. The Heat, by contrast, have the second shortest trip to the bubble (after hosts Orlando) and are fairly well placed in terms of getting going.
These are just a few examples but the key point is value is everywhere. The early bubble betting is going to be wild, so keep your head and bet smart.