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How do you sort misinformation from the truth? These days, it’s tougher than ever. Like any industry, there’s a pile of made-up myths about sports betting online. When it comes to wagering on NBA games, one of the most popular sports for betting, you want to make sure that you’re using facts, not fiction. To help you distinguish reality from false information, here are a few common myths and facts about sports betting:

Myth: Always bet on the team with the star player.

There’s no denying the strength that players like Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant bring to a team. But that last word is important: team. Any athlete is familiar with the phrase, “A team is only as strong as its weakest player”, and it’s crucial to remember this when it comes to sports betting. Even if one team has the strongest offensive player in the league, they’ll be weakened by a lackluster defense. 

This might not be an issue when one team is playing against another with a similarly weak defense, but what if the opposing team’s offense is especially strong? This can expose a glaring weakness in the star-studded team that will turn the odds on their heads. Be wary of how strengths and weaknesses in one team will interact when they play against another, knowing that this will change with each matchup.

Fact: Only bet what you can afford to lose.

No matter how sure you feel that your bet will win out, there’s always the alternative to consider. With any bet you place, you have to ask yourself the same question: Am I comfortable with the possibility of losing this money? Wagering responsibly is an essential part of sports betting. The important thing is that you’re having fun and enjoying the activity—not wagering double what you’re comfortable with just to make up for a loss. 

Myth: Sports handicappers are scammers.

Buying sports picks gets a bad rap sometimes, but it isn’t always justified. Using NBA expert picks can often improve your chances of winning a payout. Think about it: the analysts who make these picks spend their days researching each factor at play in a game, including matchup history, injuries, and the home field advantage. They search rigorously for any factor that the sportsbooks failed to consider. With so many NBA games in each season, it’s only natural that some factors are overlooked. Most people simply don’t have the time to do this research themselves.

However, not all sports handicappers offer equal value. You’ll have to do your research to find one who delivers on their promises. 

Fact: Unexpected events happen.

After a year like 2020, we’re all familiar with how unpredictable events can change things drastically. The same is true in any NBA game, which is something to keep in mind if you’re into sports betting.

Take the best-of-seven series in 2007, where the Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks, causing one of the greatest upsets in the history of NBA playoffs. It’s not every year that something that unexpected happens, but it’s something to watch for with sports betting. A smart handicapper might have noticed that even though the Warriors were a No. 8 seed (while Dallas was No. 1), the Warriors had defeated them in all previous matchups that year. This was a good indication that the Warriors had an advantage against them. 

When it comes to sports betting, don’t overlook any possibility. Take each one into consideration before placing your bet for the best odds of winning.

Myth: Never bet on the underdog.

With moneyline odds, one team is chosen as the favorite (indicated by the – symbol) and the other is the underdog (with the + symbol). Many consider favored teams to be the safer bet since they’re more likely to win. However, betting on the favorite comes with a distinct disadvantage: you’ll need to bet more to win money. With the underdog, the return is much higher for a lower investment. 

There is value in betting on the underdog, as long as you understand the risk that’s involved. When you find a match where one team has an unexpected edge, you have the chance to profit considerably. 

Fact: You can bet on other games besides the playoffs.

All NBA fans look forward to the last games of the season to find out who will win the finals and receive the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Since these are the games with the most eyes on them (in 2020, it was 7.5 million!), it’s a lot less likely that any circumstances will be overlooked by the oddsmakers. You might want to bet on the earlier games in the season instead. Early on, the stakes aren’t as high and the playoffs haven’t started yet. These could be your golden opportunities to place winning sports bets. 

In 2021, we’re sure to see a unique NBA season. The number of regular games has been reduced due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions will alter the schedule. Despite these recent changes, there’s one thing you can be sure of: things get a lot more interesting when you decide to place a bet.