NBA betting trends: Rest advantage could spell value for underdog spread bets down the stretch

With just a little more than four weeks remaining in the 2023-24 NBA regular season, bettors who peruse oddsboards not only need to know the injury reports inside-out but also know which squads might be on the verge of easing up before the postseason. 

And they for sure would want to know which squads are coming off a day or two of rest and going against a team that played the day before. Such games pretty much happen daily.

And it helps to know if teams tend to take their foot off the gas when they are a heavy favorite.

Let’s take a look at a few win/loss and betting trends.

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NBA odds on back-to-backs vs. rested teams

Entering play on March 15 there have been 260 games in the league this season in which a squad that played the day before a scheduled game faced a team that was coming off a break of at least one day and on rare occasions as many as seven or eight.

The rested team has a record of 151-109 in those matchups. Boston has the best mark in the league in these scenarios, going 10-1 with its only loss coming in late January agains the L.A. Clippers.

Others teams that have dominated in these scenarios have been the Clippers at 9-1, Cleveland and Oklahoma City at 8-1 and Minnesota at 10-2. On the other hand, Portland has gone1-12.

With this info in mind, here are three games scheduled for this weekend to keep an eye on: 

Saturday: Minnesota, on three-days’ rest, heads to Utah to face a Jazz squad that was scheduled to play at home against Atlanta on Friday night. This late in the season, such an extended break is a big bonus. Sort of like an NFL team having its bye in November or December instead of early October.

Also Saturday, Portland again will take on a team on a back-to-back, this time in New Orleans against the Pelicans, who were to play the Clippers on Friday night. As mentioned, the Trail Blazers haven’t taken advantage in the vast majority of these situations this season.

And on Sunday, the Celtics, on two-days’ rest, will play at Washington, which is one of two teams already eliminated from playoff contention. The Wizards are to play at home against Chicago on Saturday.

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Betting on double-digit NBA favorites has proved costly

Both conference leaders — Boston in the East and Oklahoma City in the West — have produced for their backers this season when going off as a double-digit favorite.

The can’t be said about the rest of the league as a whole.

Boston has been such a heavy choice in 20 of its 66 games this season and has paid off 12 times with one push against the line. OKC has a 9-5 ATS mark.

But the rest of the league teams? They have a combined record of 54-77-3 ATS. That’s a 41.2 percent success rate.

So, beware down the stretch. And especially regarding Milwaukee, which has gone 5-12 against the line as a double-digit pick, even losing outright against Chicago, Portland and Memphis.

On April 2 and 3, the Bucks will play Washington and Memphis back-to-back and could well remove starters earlier than usual for needed rest.

But on a positive note, the Bucks have covered in their last two outings as a heavy favorite.

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A surprise NBA team to bet down the stretch

No, the surprise team isn’t going to charge into the playoffs and be a threat to knock off defending champion Denver.

It’s the Charlotte Hornets, led by strong forward Miles Bridges, who have provided great value when playing in the second game of a back-to-back scenario.

They are 17-49 overall and have a tragic number of 5 to be eliminated from postseason contention. And they also have the third-worst mark against the spread at 27-39.

But, when it comes to playing in the second game of a back-to-back, they have a 9-3 mark against the line despite going 3-9 straight up, which includes one of the biggest upsets of the season. 

With that in mind, here are a couple of Hornets games coming up that might be worth a serious look. Both are the second games of a back-to-backs for Charlotte and likely to result in the generous points on the oddsboards.

On Saturday night in Philadelphia they’ll play a slumping 76ers team that is coming off a day’s rest. Since January, rested Philly is 0-6 ATS facing teams with no rest. And a lot has to do with the absence of 2022-23 league MVP Joel Imbiid (knee), who’s been out since late January.

Then comes a Hornets home game against NBA front-runner Boston on April 1 a day after facing the L.A. Clippers. Back on Nov. 20, the Hornets snapped a four-game losing streak with a 121-118 overtime win over the Celtics as an 8.5-point underdog. Boston had been on a six-game winning streak.

And with Boston holding a six-game lead over Oklahoma City in the West for home court throughout the postseason, there’s a good chance the Celtics’ starters get reduced playing time.

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