Blessings in Disguise

Yesterday in the NBA, home teams went 6-3; without considering who played whom, that’s unsurprising. Glancing at the matchups, only travelling Toronto’s upending of Oklahoma City startles.

And yet, had you wagered the moneyline minimums on each of the nine home teams, the Thunder’s flop alone would have wiped out any modest gains made by home dogs elsewhere on the slate, and you would have walked away a financial loser despite winning 67% of your bets.

Had you ponied up equal amounts on each one of Sunday’s nine favorites while giving the points, you’d have been clobbered. The teams the oddsmakers expected to win not only went a harrowing 2-7 against the spread, they also lost outright five times in nine tries.

In fact, the only aggregate follow-the-pattern strategy that paid off yesterday was to take the points and wager equally on every underdog, which would have led to a 7-2 record, and with it a 53% return on the dollars at risk.

If what’s written above doesn’t make you nervous, congratulations–you’re risk-loving.

I am not; I suspect I’m closer to risk-neutral than risk-averse, but either way, I’d argue yesterday’s lines were blessings in disguise, and many of them came closer to nailing yesterday’s games than it might appear. The Houston-Utah tussle, in which oddsmakers tabbed the host Rockets as a 7-point favorite, hovered around the expected margin for most of the game. Both the Knicks and Lakers had excellent chances to cover late, and the Nyets were in contention with fewer than five minutes to go in their road loss to the Bullets. These lines described the bulk of their games, if not the final margins.

Prior to play, 8 of Sunday’s 9 lines seemed too close to what I thought might happen, and kept me away from the favorites’ Waterloo. Even the day’s worst call saved a wagering mistake: I thought Oklahoma City would romp, but the 13.5 points I would have had to concede repelled. Whew.

All of which left the only line that didn’t make sense to me yesterday: I couldn’t understand why the Clippers were favored in a game visiting Phoenix had to have. A good guess for a seventh consecutive payoff on a bet: the Suns cruised to a 108-99 win.

A month has passed since I started this blog, and my path to the black is here. It’s a nice gain, but I’ve yet to escape the gravitational pull of my starting stake after 24 wagers, and so it’s small bets, incremental gains and losses, and dreams of exponential gains remaining dreams.

In that vein, two modest wagers tonight:

  • $105 to win $100 on Boston giving 2 to the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
  • $110 to win $100 on Indiana giving 3 to the Nets in New Jersey.

I’m more optimistic about the rested Pacers grabbing a win against a Deron-less and perhaps hapless squad back from a second-half implosion in D.C., but I’m also hoping that a grouchy Amare/Melo tandem won’t be enough for a rested Boston squad that excels everywhere New York doesn’t.

Go Celtics. Go Pacers.

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