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The National Basketball League tips off another season Oct. 31 with both bet makers and bet takers sifting through the debris of last year's results in hopes of finding NBA betting clues to the upcoming campaign. From a wagering standpoint, the most important thing to know is that oddsmakers approach the NBA a bit differently than they do most other major sports, relying far less on Power Ratings, the numbers that form the price-making building blocks. There are several unique aspects to the NBA game that limit the effectiveness of Power Ratings: Schedule: In order to keep travel costs down, NBA teams often embark on lengthy road trips. How far a team has to travel, how many time zones the players cross and how many games they're forced to play in a short time frame are crucial factors. A team in the east usually has a very difficult time negotiating a swing through Texas that includes three games in four nights in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. A team from the West Coast might struggle with an Atlantic coast travelogue that includes visits to Miami, Orlando, Memphis and Charlotte, for example. Because basketball is a series of cross-country one-night stands, more than any other sport, fatigue is an overwhelmingly important factor and NBA betting should reflect that element. The Yin-Yang Factor: It may seem strange but if a team gets blown out one night, the next night they usually play a much better game. Every game is different, of course, but if a good team such as the Pacers were blown out by the Pistons, they'd be even more likely to blow out their next opponent and the NBA betting lines would echo that. Injuries: Unlike football, where a team has a whole week to rest an injured player, or, if need be, prepare another player to take his place, with the day-to-day grind of the NBA, teams don't have that luxury. If there's an injury, oddsmakers make an immediate assessment of the impact that injury will have on the team. An injury to a key player not only has an effect on the pointspread but the total, as well. While injuries are part of the game, it's naïve to suggest that a player is worth a certain amount of points. "It depends on the matchup," pointed out a noted oddsmaker. "For example, San Antonio's Tim Duncan might be worth more against the Nuggets than, say, the Trail Blazers. If the spread at home was going to be San Antonio -7 over Denver with Duncan, without him it might be -2 so in that situation, Duncan would be worth five points. But say the Spurs are playing at home against the Trail Blazers. With Duncan, the spread might be -14. Without him, San Antonio still would have a considerable edge in talent over Portland and you probably weren't going to see Duncan around at the end of a blowout anyway, so the line might be -11, meaning Duncan was worth only three points in that scenario. So it all depends on the matchup."


BETS AND PIECES: Most future books list defending NBA champion Miami as a slight favorite to repeat this season. The Heat didn't lose anyone to free agency meaning that Head Coach Pat Riley still can turn to a deep and talented cast that includes Dwayne Wade, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams and Udonis Haslem. Prices vary, of course, but those interested in NBA betting futures shouldn't have difficulty finding 7/2 on the Heat. If Miami fails to win back-to-back titles, which is no easy task, look for San Antonio, Detroit, Dallas or Phoenix, most of them in the 4/1 to 6/1 future book betting range, to be the new champions. The Spurs still play defense with a passion and have a top-notch scoring triumvirate in Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili while the Pistons are hoping that Nazr Mohammed, who fled San Antonio, can help fill the hole in the middle left by the departure of Ben Wallace to Chicago. The Mavericks strengthened themselves by adding Devean George, Austin Croshere and Anthony Johnson in separate deals. They'll help a nucleus that includes Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Josh Howard. The Suns are a bit of an unknown because of the questionable condition of Amare Stoudemire's knee. If he's healthy, Phoenix will have plenty of firepower with Steve Nash and Shawn Marion. If Stoudemire is a liability, the Suns won't shine. The bottom line? NBA betting, whether it is the daily grind or futures, can be tricky but astute bettors may also find it profitable.

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Some NBA Betting Tips Before Tipoff