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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

Mar 16th NBA Action: Atlanta Hawks @ Houston Rockets

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Season-to-date record: 52-56-2, 48%

Against the grain of intuition, backing Rockets cover: Houston +9.5

Of 19,434 NBA games in the BetLabs Sports database, there are a mere 57 instances of a team notching at least 16 straight losses, as have the Rockets, after absorbing a 28-point pounding at the hands of the Celtics Sunday. Thus, Houston is in the midst of a historic skid. The truth, though, is that backing teams from such extremes has proven as profitable as the endeavor is counterintuitive. In fact, as detailed below, we have uncovered pretty substantial evidence in support of the home dog cover this afternoon. Accordingly, we are getting down on the Rockets for the rare 2021 cover.

Historically, backing teams on losing streaks of at least 16 games has delivered a 14% return on investment since 2006.

We expect the profitability of this system is a tribute to the prevalence of recency bias in sports betting markets. Casual bettors generally wants nothing to do with teams on such protracted slides. Their clamor to fade teams in this spot inflates the opposition's line, creating value for objective bettors.

Separate from the uninterrupted train of L's the Rockets have strung together since early February, Houston's most recent action also hints that the lowly boys from H-Town are worth taking the flyer Tuesday. Terrible teams teams taking points after blowout losses have been great bets versus no better than middle-of-the-pack opposition.

Backing underdogs with win rates of no better than 30% has delivered a 22% long-term return on investment versus teams that win no more than 55% of their games and that missed the previous playoffs.

The rationale for this latter approach's profitability might be the same psychology described earlier that overweights near-term performance in the psyches of casual bettors, leading to a tendency to shun recent losers, even though the betting spread adjusts for information contained in those prior losses.

Supporting the idea that psychology may be unduly influencing the Hawks Rockets spread Tuesday, we note that ESPN's Basketball Power Index makes the Hawks less than a longball better than the Rockets Tuesday, before accounting for any home court advantage Houston deserves for hosting the affair (Toyota Center will reportedly allow fans up to 25% of capacity).

Similarly, FiveThirtyEight's framework gives Atlanta a relatively modest 1.5-4.5 point edge this afternoon.

On personnel, John Wall is unavailable today for Houston, but Christian Wood might return to the lineup. Further Danuel House, Jr. is listed as questionable. For Atlanta, De'Andre Hunter and Kris Dunn are not ready to go yet, and Onyeka Okongwu is questionable.

Happy betting!!


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