NBA Handicapping: Overstating the Loss of a Player

Overstating the Loss of a Player
by Staff

When a key player is expected to miss a basketball game it will have an impact on the game’s point spread for sure. With that being said, the bookie will sometimes get sneaky and overstate the line duping the public into thinking that the team in question is going to be terribly negatively affected by the loss.

Now we have to throw in a disclaimer here before we dig deeper into this issue… We will admit that the loss of a point guard would be more legit of a reason to move the spread a bunch because of the fact that the PG spends so much time with the ball in his hands. The loss of a forward or shooting guard however, is easier to replace without issue as many second stringers in the NBA are ALMOST as good as the starters, their just waiting for their chance to shine.

A good example of overstating a spread would be a game played on Tuesday, March 20th, 2007. The Washington Wizards came into Portland to play the Trailblazers. The oddsmakers had set the Wizards as -2 road favorites and then line was promptly one sided and hammered to the tune of -4. This wasn’t sharp action either, as 70% of the public was on the Wiz according to

The reason for this line move was that it was announced that Blazer forward Zach Randolph would be out for the nights game due to a death in the family. I believe this info was released before the line had come out as well, so in summary it ended up being a 2 point line move, pretty much all based on the fact that the public thought -2 was a great deal so the bookies had to adjust the spread due to the one sided action they were receiving.

So getting to the overstated part of this situation, we feel that the public overreacted creating a great value play. Is this play a lock? NO. There isn’t such a thing. Is it a good value play to take Portland and the +4, you bet!

Why you ask? Well, for starters, Randolph may very well be the team’s leading scorer but he’s a forward and the Blazers have a dandy one in backup Travis Outlaw who isn’t much of a drop off. It should also be noted that Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas gave the Blazers bulletin board material letting the media know that he’s pissed off at Blazers head coach Nate McMillan for leaving him off the USA all-star team last summer. He came out and said he was going to put up 50 on the Blazers the last time they played. You don’t think that motivates the Portland team to shut this guy down? Well, they sure as hell did as Portland whooped Washington 94-73 and Arenas poured in a whopping 9 points on 3/15 shooting including 8 misses from beyond the arc.

Lastly, when checking the standings, it’s plain to see that the Wiz are 11-19 on the road. That’s 11 wins in 30 tries on the road folks. Around 35% which is a horrible percentage and their laying points in this one?

If you were a square and listened to the almighty Gilbert Arenas say that he was going to lay 50 on Portland and you worry about the loss of Randolph in addition to being suckered into following a line move that has no substance on it then you deserve to lose. One could also make a case for this being a revenge game after P-Town blew them out, but it’s not as likely of a scenario with the game being a road game for Washington.

We’d like to finish by saying that this game is going to be played the night that this article was written, otherwise we’d report the result here. We’d also like to say that it may very well lose. Heck, even the best handicappers only hit 60% of the time. There is however some value to this game and there will surely be more like it in the future that you should really take a close look at before falling into the bookies trap.

A wise man once told me… “The difference between a winning handicapper and a losing handicapper is the ability to decipher the difference of what SHOULD happen vs. what CAN happen.”

Until next time, may all your wagers be winners!