WinPicks Reference Manual

Appendix A.7. Pro Basketball Handicapping

Pro basketball handicapping also requires deciding how many games of stats to use, and which prediction formula to use. The number of games you use should be large enough to include a good mixture of road and home games, but small enough to reflect how well teams are playing now. Many handicappers prefer a rolling average of from 10 to 15 games. Since the 82-game NBA schedule is so long and grueling, you can divide the season of many teams into several "mini-seasons" where the quality of their play varies considerably. The intensity level of a team varies, and since the teams are only allowed to have 12 players on their active roster, injuries influence the NBA results far more than they do in football. A 10 to 15 game roll seems to capture the essence of these "mini-seasons" well. Using a balanced rolling average (based on a equal number of home and road games) often seems to improve the results.

As with our football products, we supply three pro basketball prediction formulas that have worked well in past seasons. However, we suggest that you try creating your own formulas and testing them with the ANALYZE option to see how well they work. The pro basketball prediction formulas are based on rest and weariness factors. NBA teams travel extensively, and the home team has a distinct advantage. Teams that have been playing at home for several games often play extremely well, whereas teams may start to falter towards the end of a long road trip. The WinPicks formulas allow you to add or subtract points from a teams power ranking, based on the number of consecutive home or road games a team has played. We suggest using the Formula Tuner to optimize the formulas that you create so that they produce the best possible results.

As everyone knows, the home team has a distinct advantage in the NBA, perhaps more so than in any other sport. In some instances, it seems nearly impossible for the weaker teams in the NBA to win on the road, or for the top teams to lose at home. Since the gambling public is aware of this fact, however, a strong home court advantage is already factored into the line. In fact, the line often exaggerates the dominance of the home team. You'll find that bad teams often cover on the road, even if they seldom win. For this reason, you'll get the best results with formulas that show respect for the home court advantage, without giving it undue emphasis.

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