Not that there’s any reason for you to have noticed this, but the Kings game two nights ago came with some very solid video evidence for why gambling on basketball point spreads is inherently dumb. I’ve only done it a couple times, and stuff like this helps me remember why I don’t do it more often.
The spread on the game was 6.5 or 7 points for the Kings, depending on the sportsbook. For all you intelligent people out there who invest your money in low-risk government bonds, a spread is the number of points the favored team is predicted to win by, and which sports gamblers can choose to bet against. A lot of factors play into its calculation, including the Kings having beaten some very good teams lately, and the fact that they were playing at home.
That spread still seem a little low to you? You are in huge company. According to various gambling resources, only about 25 percent of bettors “took the points,” meaning that the other 75 percent were predicting that the Celtics would win by more than 6.5 or 7.
We take you now to the very, very end of the game, where the Celtics lead by six with the ball. So the outcome is pretty much decided, but they’re not covering the spread unless they score here.
By being a good sport and choosing to avoid that dunk, Glen Davis probably almost ruined a few people financially. But, temporarily lucky for those people, the Kings foul Davis for some reason (pretty sure protocol calls for letting the clock run out when a guy gives up a dunk) and he makes both. C’s are now up 8 and covering the spread.
That’s how stupid NBA gambling is. Millions of hardworking American dollars changed hands when Davis gave up that dunk, then changed back when the Kings fouled him. Hardworking Americans were first ruined and then rich because of two completely basketball-inconsequential events.
And we’re not even done. Enter Tyreke Evans.
Boom. Celtics win by 5 and don’t cover. Because Evans threw up an almost obnoxiously casual 3 with two seconds to go, 75% of the hundreds of thousands of people who bet on this game lost money to online gambling sites. If you listened, you could probably hear the screams of joy go up from the Cayman Islands.
So that’s effectively three changes in the gambling outcome, none of which had any relevance to the game whatsoever. And that’s why gambling on basketball is a nonsensical exercise. Unless you’re Tim Donaghy.
SOME TIDBITS ON THE CELTICS AND GAMBLING
According to Vegas Insider, the Celtics are 23-23-2 against the spread. That means that when the spread is subtracted (or added, on the few occasions when they’ve been the underdog) from their final score, they’ve won as many games as they’ve lost. The implication there is that the Celtics are pretty much as good as basketball fans believe them to be. You can see how a .500 record against the spread would be more likely to happen with such a high-profile team.
The best team against the spread is the Philadelphia 76ers. Makes sense, because they’re a little better than most people think. The worst team, sort of unbelievably, is the Cleveland Cavaliers. As horrible as they are perceived to be, they’re actually way worse than that.