My coverage of basketball betting with specific emphasis on the NBA continues as more and more people here at OLBG seem to be getting into the sport and are eager to know more about the various markets available out there. While my basic analysis from earlier this month included short introduction to the basics, explanation of the value selling and buying, in this article of mine I will try to go deeper into a market that has been widely available around the US, but has only just been introduced to the European punters, namely the first basket/winner combo, which is on offer by PADDYPOWER. As the market has proven extremely popular, I am certain more bookies will look at it closely and while they do that, it is wise to examine what it is all about and how we can establish our own strategy. After all, the odds on offer are extremely juicy, ranging from 5.00 to 50.00 on some games.
FIRST BASKET/WINNER COMBO
When a specific new market is offered, especially by a single bookie, we must do significant research into the variables that influence that market and quickly figure out the best way to go in terms of analysis and strategy. Like I have stressed in my previous articles, basketball betting in Europe is only just picking up and diversifying so we could expect the equivalents of certain football markets slowly making their way into the picture. When it comes to predicting a winner of a game we already have the two major options with the MONEY LINE and the POINT SPREAD so starting from there it is only logical to see them combined with something else. In football we have the first goalscorer/outcome combination and while it is obviously different to predict a scorer in sport where goals are not that much, in basketball, your first scorer is decided at the very start of the game and unlike football, there are merely 10 players to choose from. At the same time, just like in football, you will have those who are more likely to get the first touch and those who are less likely (a bit like strikers being shorter on the market to score first than defenders). That immediately brings up the fact that knowing players and teams well enough is just crucial when dealing with this market. Once you have your one of ten players selected, you can just go on with the basic money line pick and there goes your combo. As you probably notice already, the first part of it is the tricky one and the one that in the end will provide the value I spoke about in my intro.
The first advice I can provide when it comes to selecting a first basket scorer has to do with the basics of basketball, namely the TIP OFF. This is where your knowledge of players and team dynamics will come even handier than just following who scores the most for each individual team. The tip off is basically the two tallest players (usually centers or power forwards) going against each other to determine the first possession. As you would have guessed, getting the first possession is half the work done towards scoring the first basket. In that sense, looking at teams with taller and statistically better centers, you can be swayed towards five of the ten players on offer in this market. I would check not only height but also rebound numbers of the players who usually tip off for each team and comparing them according to the individual match-ups will lead to certain conclusion who is more likely to gain the first possession. For example if you have a 2,20m tall center who averages 11 rebounds per game squaring off against a 2,14m center with 7 rebounds per game, you will see the logic in giving the former an edge, hence assuming his team will win the first possession.
Once you have figured your tip off strategy and have divided the ten players available on the market as first basket scorers, you have to dig deeper into the different team dynamics, the offense they play and monitor which are the GO-TO GUYS, who are most likely to take that first shot or take the most shots in the game altogether. This is pretty straight forward as most teams have the so-called franchise players, who more often than not dominate the ball, call plays and take more shots than their teammates. It is nothing but basic research which can be done even on the smallest of scales as team dynamics in the NBA do not really change that much over the course of a season. If you look at the past 3-4 games a team has played you will see a sensible trend with certain players taking the majority of the shots, including early in games. For example with the Oklahoma City Thunder, you have two guys who have taken more than 90% of the first shots so far this season and those are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. If we check the LA Clippers, Blake Griffin has been the go-to guy early on in more than 50% of their games. Looking at the match-ups in the specific game will help you determine if indeed the stats will be valid and will also help out with signalling out one of two or three possible options. If your go-to guy is matched-up against a well-known defender or a more unorthodox player, then you might have to look at a less-obvious option as defence will be tight on the bookies favourite early on.
Lastly, I would have to stress that if you have figured your most likely first basket scorer, that DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN HIS TEAM WILL WIN THE GAME. You can see from the screenshot above that the possibilities often are 20 or more when it comes to the combination as sometimes PaddyPower includes bench players due to uncertainty over who will start a specific game. I have also noticed injured players are not always excluded, so this you must also be on alert for. Still, unlike football, whoever scores early on is not in a better position to win the game and you have to take into account all the aspects you would normal take when betting on the money line or spread markets. If you have selected a player from one team to score first with the other team to win, you are obviously going to get more value, but do not go blindly about the highest odds available as just like there is a reason behind certain players never taking the first shot, as it is behind certain teams being clear outsiders in a given game.
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