Spurs-Suns Series Shoots Down Another Betting Urban Legend

Joe Duffy (www.OffshoreInsiders.com)

Over the years I’ve heard a common faulty theory
regurgitated when either a game has a large pointspread or even more
commonplace when a contest involves two teams that play opposite tempos. It entails
an if-then-else statement in which both the side and total are essentially handicapped

“If you like the big favorite you have to like the over,
but if you like the big dog, you have to like the under,” the myth goes. Even more humdrum is “If you like the up-tempo
team to cover, you have to like the over,” and I’m sure you can figure out what

In a classic illustration, I saw this drivel rear its ugly
head on gambling posting boards before the Spurs-Suns series. Phoenix
of course plays the chaotic full-court style where the shot clock is almost
irrelevant. The Spurs play a classic
half-court style where shots are generally taken with the shot clock at single
digits. Even the newspaper hacks and
talking heads on television recited the groupthink that a fast-paced game would
benefit the Suns and a slow-paced game would be to the advantage of the Spurs.

Game 5 between San Antonio
and Phoenix ended with the side
being a push. For our purpose, that’s convenient because that was the now
infamous game in which the Suns Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended,
hence from a handicapping standpoint, the results should be thrown out.

Of the remaining five games, San
won and covered three of them. All three went over the total. Phoenix
won and covered two, both of which went under the total. All five results, of
course, went against the conventional so-called logic.

This is consistent with my observations over the
years. Unless there is a push, there are
four possible combinations of a side and total: Team A and
the under, Team A and the over, Team B and the under and Team B and the over.
Random chance suggests the if-then-else fairy tale has a 50 percent chance of
being right because it says of the possible four combinations it will likely be
one of two possibilities. My educated observations says every time I hear this
theory espoused, one of the two alleged to be likely combinations hits less
than 50 percent of the time.

I always handicap sides and totals as separate entities. If anything, based on experience, I feel more
comfortable if I pick the ball control team to cover and the over, or the fast-paced
team and the under.

The domino effect of course is not going to be as
overwhelming as the Suns-Spurs series illustrates, but that example is closer
to the rule than the exception.

A big believer in contrarian handicapping, as explained in
previous articles, I can’t say there is necessarily such an angle here. But the invaluable lesson is to not inhibit
handicapping by subscribing to the popular fallacy.

Here is the if-then-else truth for sports bettors. If you
rid of the aforesaid robotic fairy tale, then your chances of winning are much

Joe Duffy is CEO of OffshoreInsiders.com
which now has the best free sports gambling match-ups, free picks,
databases and more.


New Stats Coming to the Forefront in Baseball Handicapping

Joe Duffy (www.OffshoreInsiders.com)

The hottest statistic
among baseball handicappers utilized in evaluating offenses
is on base
percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS). This is not a new statistic among
sharpies, and in fact was overlooked for a few decades by baseball itself. I
first heard about it in the mid-1970s when Steven Mann, a statistician for the
Houston Astros, was touting said numerator on a radio sports talk show I was
listening to. I employed and tested this statistic to capture a few
Strat-o-Matic championships in my formative years. Who says youth is wasted on
the young?

I’ve always put forth that the proper Triple Crown in
baseball should be on base percentage, slugging average and runs produced. In that vain, the streamlined stat of OPS is
finally being noticed by the masses.

In fact, the growingly more sophisticated gaming public is
finally paying additional attention to offensive statistics. This is bad news for the books because Johnny
Q. Public used to throw his money away simply betting little more than just
starting pitcher’s ERA statistics with an extra emphasis on a hurler’s last
three starts.

According to Cy McCormick of MasterLockLine.com,
the online sports betting syndicate, the hot gauge now for pitchers is
comparing his batting average against (OAV) overall against to his OAV with
balls in play.

Many of the cutting edge handicappers they monitor take the
two quoted stats and compare it to the league average to find disparities. “The thought is if a pitcher’s overall
batting average against ranks much higher than his batting average against with
balls in play, he is pitching better than his stats because the fielders behind
him are not playing as well as they should be.”

Of course if a pitcher does better relative to the rest of
the league with balls in play than he does overall, the supposition among the
avant-garde gamblers is that the pitcher has benefited from good fortune. Hence
rough days lay ahead for the hurler.

McCormick says the top services parse the information to
their exact liking in their own private databases, but that Yahoo! Sports
(sports.yahoo.com) does the best job of any free public site comparing and
contrasting that day’s pitchers’ stats to both the league average and league

If there is one consideration that has seen some
depreciation in value recently, it’s the ground ball to fly ball ratio (GB:FB). Ground ball pitchers will always be more affective
than fly ball pitchers, but the statistic is no longer the silver bullet data
all but guaranteeing impending doom.

“First it was supposed to be
juiced balls then we realized it was juiced players,” says Jerry Malcolm of
CasinoBettingNews.com. “Regardless, a fly ball is not nearly as
poisonous now that the power numbers are stabilizing.”

As in any sport, the elite gamblers look beyond mere
numbers-crunchers. An uber-popular book and arguably the Bible for scrutinizing
and exploiting baseball statistics is “Moneyball: the Art of Winning an Unfair
Game” by Michael Lewis. Oh how true that title is for the gambler who masters
the mathematical art.

Joe Duffy during his Cadillac Club scorephone days developed
the reputation as the top baseball underdog handicapper in the business. His plays are now exclusive on OffshoreInsiders.com

Knowing What Really Wins in Sports is a Real Commodity

At the start of the NBA playoffs, there was no shortage of the “defense wins championships” articles. One of the toutspeak clichés is so fundamentally flawed, I can only thank them for keeping the books in business for the rest of us.

It goes along the lines of: look at the stats, scoring is way down in the postseason in the NBA, therefore defense is more important. An elite sports handicapper, I don’t consider myself an expert on commodities investments, but the basic fact is if the demand for a commodity stays the same, but the supply goes down, the value of having that commodity goes up. The more of that commodity that one has, the better off the investor is.  However, if such asset became more easily obtainable, the worth of it decreases.

That’s exactly how it is with the ability to score crucial points in the NBA playoffs. There is no question defensive intensity rises immensely in the playoffs.  The commodity of scoring points is much more difficult to come by than they are against lackluster five-cities-in-seven-nights regular season defenses.

Therefore the worth of the commodity of clutch scoring goes up in the postseason, not down.

Recent historic fact No. 1: The 2007 Miami Heat became the first team in NBA history to win a championship only to get swept in the first round the following year.  Yet defensively they were superior to their championship year, jumping from 13th in the league to eighth.  However offensively they did a freefall going from sixth to 28th, third worst in the NBA.

The Heat had two certified offensive superstars, Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. The two played a combined 91 games this year because of various injuries and never, ever got in synch.  Wade was rushed back for the postseason and Miami’s offensive lack of cohesion was indisputable.

They were better defensively in 2007 because they had to compensate.  The end result to the better defense but much inferior offense was being on the wrong end of the historic sweep.  Oh and when the Heat won the championship last year, which team lead the league in defense?  Recent historic fact No. 2: It was the Memphis Grizzlies who set an all-time mark for consecutive postseason losses.  Yes, the league’s numero uno defense set the bar for playoff incompetence.

Do not get me wrong, defensive and offensive rankings as we have stated time and time again are extremely deceptive in football and basketball.  Points per game are much more indicative of tempo than of competence. Fast break teams will always appear “offensive oriented” and half court teams “defensive oriented” to the uneducated eye.

However there was no significant pace-of-the-game adjustment for Miami from last year to this year with Wade and O’Neal playing musical MASH unit, so there is at least an apples to apples comparison in beating live odds for the NBA.

Recent historical fact, No. 3: based on disparity in winning percentage, the Dallas Mavericks became victims of the biggest upset in NBA playoff history when they were not just beaten, but dominated by the Golden State Warriors. Said the media, this of course was the year that Avery Johnson was finally able to exorcise Dallas of the offensive mindset Don Nelson that poisoned them with for years. The transition to offensive-oriented to defensive-minded was complete.  And so was their season completed—very quickly.

Oh and the team that beat them was the worst defensive team in the NBA—Golden State coached by Don Nelson. There is no epiphany needed.  Any debate is fruitless.  The foremost reason for the Mavericks failure was that their premier offensive player Dirk Nowitzki went AWOL, while Golden State put up a clinic in outside shooting.

Anyone who tries to spin it differently, I want to book their plays.

We are, as we admitted using deceptive rankings that are based simply on points per game.  But we are using the same data the cliché mongers use in order to refute them.

However the fact is that I am anything but a proponent of a frenetic pace. A great offense in basketball means very good complimentary offensive players that can consistently score clutch baskets, and here is the kicker: in the half-court offense.

The San Antonio Spurs, contrary of the misleading rankings, fit our definition as well as any team in the NBA. The uneducated eye would look merely at points per game, oblivious to the fact they place a strict half court offense.  But with the game on the line Tony Parker getting the ball to Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili is a pretty powerful combo.  Of course, David Robinson was also part of the initial championship team.

Robert Horry is not called “Big Stop Bob” it’s “Big Shot Bob”. They also have Michael Finley and before him Steve Kerr.

Look at any of the modern championship teams.  They may play different styles, but they all have one thing in common—prime time offensive players.  From O’Neal and Wade, to Jordan and Pippen, O’Neal and Bryant, Olajuwon, Drexler and Cassell, Johnson, Jabber and a sensational supporting cast, Bird, McHale and Johnson,  Erving, Malone and Toney. They all had a lot more success in the postseason than the phenomenal defensive pairing of Mookie Blaylock and Dikembe Mutombo,  Bobby Jones and Caldwell Jones, Paul Pressey and Sidney Moncrief.

In fact, going back to the late 70s, if not well beyond, the least impressive 1-2 offensive punch from an NBA Champion would be Chauncey Billups and Rick Hamilton from the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons.  Yet anyone who actually watched that particular playoffs can attest that duo’s ability to get the big basket

Phoenix does have enormous offensive talent, but frankly will have to overcome their chaotic style of play to capture the ring. There is no question they have the substance, but may lack the style to win it all.

The simple fact is every single NBA Champion will have the extremely rare commodity of at least two legitimate big time go-to players  who can make the big shot and/or the big pass when the game on the line.

That’s a commodity that’s rare, but not as rare as the professional gambler who is conscious of this fact.

Joe Duffy’s sports betting selections are part of the Dream Team of GodsTips  He is former General Manager of the Freescoreboard scorephone network and CEO of OffshoreInsiders.com, the premier hub of world-class handicappers.