Shopping for the Best Line in the NBA

  • SportsInsights.com Research Overview

SportsInsights.com and one of its members have teamed up to perform sports data research that we hope you will find useful.  This member is a specialist in quantitative analysis and risk management in his “real job” at a hedge fund and holds engineering degrees from MIT.  Both parties are excited about our cooperative effort and look forward to sharing some interesting information with you.

This collaboration worked to produce the research in Article #1 – NBA Betting Against the Public (10/31/03-1/25/05).  Over time, we will produce other articles that should prove to be timely and interesting.  Please let us know if you have ideas for additional research.  Send suggestion or feedback to Contact Us. The information on this site is for entertainment and educational purposes only.  Use of this information in violation of any federal, state, or local laws is prohibited.

SportsInsights.com always stresses shopping for the best lines and using reduced vig to improve one’s bottom line.  Please see our article on Reduced Juice Sports Betting, which mentions a few of the best “reduced juice” sportsbooks and shows how the savings can add up.  We shop around for the best prices in stores; why not at a sportsbook?  Just be careful and ensure that the sportsbook is safe and secure – so that payouts are not at risk.

In this article, we show “how close” many games are – and the reason why it is important to shop for the best line.  A half-point difference can make the difference between a winning or losing play.  The information on this site is for entertainment and educational purposes only.  Use of this information in violation of any federal, state, or local laws is prohibited.

How Close are Games?

We thought it might be interesting to see “how close” games really are.  Below is a chart that shows the percentage of games that ends within a given number of points in the NBA, for the period 10/31/03 to 1/25/05.  As you can see, 5.5% of the games fall within 0.5 points of the point spread.  That’s more than 1 in 20.  In addition, games fall within 1 point of the spread: 1 out of every 10 games; and within 3 points: 1 out of every 4 games!  Other interesting statistics:  half of the games fall within 7 points of the spread; and two-thirds of the games fall within 10 points of the spread.  No wonder many of us find sports so exciting.

And the moral of the story?  In addition to minimizing the vig you pay, you should shop around for the best lines.  That 0.5 a point or so can really make a difference.

Table 1:  NBA (10/31/03-1/25/05)

Within X Points of Pt Spread Probability
0.0 (Game ends on Pt Spread) 2.0%
0.5 5.5%
1.0 9.7%
1.5 13.0%
2.0 16.5%
2.5 20.7%
3.0 24.3%
3.5 27.7%
4.0 31.3%
5.0 37.5%
7.0 49.9%
10.0 64.9%
15.0 84.1%

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