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NBA News

HOUSTON ROCKETS (50-23) at TORONTO RAPTORS (43-30)


2015-03-30

The Houston Rockets will attempt to extend their winning streak to five games when they head north and take on the Toronto Raptors this Monday night.



The Rockets have continued to be one of the elite teams out west as they have won seven of their past eight contests (6-2 ATS), winning by an average of 7.9 PPG over that period. Three of those victories came on the road as they put up 100+ points in all but two of the outings. They had a tough draw on Sunday when they traveled to Washington as 2-point favorites and came away with a 99-91 win. Six different players hit double-digits in points as they overcame a 19 turnover game with the defense holding the Wizards to 29-of-75 shooting (39percent FG). The Raptors certainly havent been the same since the All-Star break, going 7-13 both SU and ATS, but have been a little better of late with victories in five of their past nine games. The offense has made better than 46percent of their shots in each of the past four contests as they put up 101.8 PPG. An easy opponent came into town on Friday when they hosted the Lakers as 8.5-point favorites and were victorious by a score of 94-83. They held L.A. to a putrid 34.5percent shooting and the only reason it was as close as it was is because Toronto allowed the Lakers to grab 16 offensive rebounds. Houston has managed a solid 23-13 SU (20-15-1 ATS) when playing as the road team and will be facing a Raptors group which is 25-13 SU (16-22 ATS) at Air Canada Centre. This is the second time that these teams have matched up on the year and it was all the Rockets in the first game as they dominated in a 98-76 win as 2-point home favorites. Neither team shot better than 42percent from the floor as they each had 23 turnovers, but Toronto was worse with a mere 24-of-77 shots going in (33percent FG). Trends show that Toronto has gone 8-18 ATS (31percent) after a win by 10 points or more this year as Houston has managed a poor 13-24 ATS record (35percent) in road games after having won five or six of its past seven games in the past two years. The Rockets will be quite thin with all their injuries as C Dwight Howard (Rest), PF Donatas Motiejunas (Back), PG Patrick Beverley (Wrist), PF Terrence Jones (Ribs) and SF Kostas Papanikolaou (Ankle) are all expected to be out while PG Kyle Lowry (Back) is listed as doubtful for the Raptors.



Houston has been a great offensive team for the past few years and is once again as it is putting up 103.4 PPG (6th in league) on 44.1percent shooting (10th-worst in league). On the defensive side of things, the Rockets are letting opponents get 100.1 PPG (16th in league) with 44.1percent of shots going in (10th in league). SG James Harden (27.2 PPG, 7.0 APG, 5.8 RPG, 1.9 SPG) has made just 40.4percent of his shots in the past five contests but is still averaging 28.4 PPG as he made 10 free throws per game. He had a sub-par performance, by his standards, the last time he met Toronto with 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting as he added seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. SF Trevor Ariza (12.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.9 SPG) has been doing better from the field recently with 47percent of his shots dropping in the month of March but he had just nine points and five rebounds against the Raptors in February. SG Corey Brewer (11.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG) has been vital in this teams success and has hit double-digit points in four of the past five games despite shooting a mere 39percent from the field. He had one of his best performances of the year in the win over Toronto with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five steals.



The Raptors are the best offensive group in the Eastern Conference as they are netting 104.2 PPG (3rd in league) and making 45.4percent of their shots (13th in league). They havent been able to do much on defense, though, with their opposition scoring 101.2 PPG (9th-worst in league) behind 46.1percent shooting (4th-worst in league). SG DeMar DeRozan (19.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG) has been playing a ton of minutes in March (38.2 MPG) but is coming off a 1-for-10 shooting performance with six points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the win over the Lakers. He was also poor in the loss against Houston earlier in the season with 10 points (4-for-14 FG), three steals and a block. SG Louis Williams (15.1 PPG, 1.1 SPG) has been one of the most explosive offensive bench players this year and has scored 18.3 PPG over the past three outings. He did not play in the one game facing the Rockets this year and had six points with eight assists in a single contest off the bench last season. C Jonas Valanciunas (12.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.2 BPG) had one of his better recent offensive showings against L.A. with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting as he added seven rebounds and a block. He had 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals when his team was dismantled in the last matchup with Houston.




N.B.A. Game of the Week: Kings vs. Mavericks
2014-11-11

Sacramento at Dallas, Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. Eastern

With the Western Conference superpowers of recent years struggling in th Apuestas Breeders Cup e early goings of this season the Spurs were 2-3 entering Sunday, the depleted Thunder 1-5 opportunities abound for teams formerly stuck in the middle tier. The Warriors and the Grizzlies, the sixth and seventh seeds in the playoffs last season, were in first and second in the conference entering Sunday, and even teams that missed the playoffs by a wide margin, including the Pelicans, are fighting for a spot in the top eight.

Sacramento, in particular, has been a surprise to many, going 28-54 last season but winning five of its first six games this season. The Kings did not make blockbuster moves in the off-season, so credit their improvement to the maturation of their scorers and an increased focus on defense.

DeMarcus Cousins has been a strong player at center for a few seasons now, but attitude problems have kept him from being considered one of the N.B.A.s true stars. There are signs now that he has grown up witness, for instance, Fridays game, in which he restrained his coach after fouling out on a questionable call in the fourth quarter against the Suns. (The Kings ended up winning in overtime, with Cousins watching from the sideline.) Cousins seems to have benefited from his time on the United States team at the FIBA World Cup: He is scoring more ably than he did last season while remaining a force on the boards.
The Kings were criticized for letting the young point guard Isaiah Thomas head to Phoenix in a July sign-and-trade deal. But Thomass replacement, Darren Collison, has exceeded expectations, averaging 15.2 points and 6.2 assists entering Sunday and giving a boost to a defense that was allowing fewer than 100 points per 100 possessions at 98.7, the eighth-best mark in the league through Saturday.

Sacramentos biggest problem remains its passing. Despite an increased focus from the second-year coach Michael Malone on sharing the ball, the Kings had the worst assists-per-game mark in the league through Saturday, at 17.7. And if they cannot move the ball, they will have a tough time against teams with the ability to stop Cousins and forward Rudy Gay.
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The Dallas Mavericks have been on fans radars since pushing the Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs in the spring. But it is easy to forget that Dallas nearly missed the playoffs, clinching the eighth seed in its penultimate game.

In order to avoid that kind of close call this season, the Mavericks will have to improve their defense. To that end, they reacquired center Tyson Chandler from the Knicks and gave the strong defender Devin Harris a bigger role at point guard. But the Mavericks still look shaky; their 105-82 victory over the Jazz on Friday was the first time this season they had held an opponent to fewer than 100 points.
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It has been difficult to get a read on how good the Mavericks are. Although they lost their opener, 101-100, at San Antonio, they played a great game against the Spurs, the reigning N.B.A. champions. Then again, their only impressive win has come against New Orleans, and they were beaten badly by the Trail Blazers on Thursday.

Dallas has never had to worry much about scoring. The Mavericks were averaging 106.5 points per game, the second-highest output in the league, behind only Golden States 107.2, through Saturday. Chandler Parsons looks to be fitting in well in his first season with Dallas, averaging 15.2 points a game entering Sunday, and Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis have picked up where they left off last season as the teams first and second scoring options.

Before missing out on the postseason in 2012-13 and barely making it in last season, the Mavericks made the playoffs for 12 straight seasons, often with a comfortable margin. Displaying that sort of dominance, however, has grown increasingly difficult as the Western Conference has become almost comically competitive. Teams like the Kings that few expected to be good this year still have the kind of talent to challenge borderline playoff teams like Dallas in the fight to make it to May.

It is still early in the season, but Tuesdays game should help fans begin to understand how the Kings and the Mavericks stack up.


NBA Atlantic Division Preview
2013-09-27

ATLANTIC DIVISION

BOSTON CELTICS

2012-13 SU record: 43-44 SU (49.4percent), 17th in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: online bingo 40-44-3 ATS (47.6percent), 20th in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 60-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 125-to-1

GUARDS

RAJON RONDO is the last man standing in Boston. Coming off a torn ACL and with a weakened supporting cast, its going to be a long year . . . AVERY BRADLEY is the favorite to start alongside Rondo. Hes still lost on offense, but his defense will be much needed . . . COURTNEY LEE continues to tease with flashes of talent, but hasnt shown consistency and is no longer young . . . JORDAN CRAWFORD will hoist a lot of shots . . . MARSHON BROOKS fell out of favor in Brooklyn and is just hanging on to an NBA roster spot . . . KEITH BOGANS is in Boston because a new deal made the numbers work on the Nets trade . . . Local product PHIL PRESSEY, an undersized point guard, will try to stick as a back-up.

FORWARDS

Suddenly, JEFF GREEN is Bostons first option on offense. He showed an ability to score with 20.1 PPG over 17 starts last season, but hell be in for a whole new world of attention as the only legitimate scorer on this team . . . BRANDON BASS should continue to hold down the power forward spot, and hell get to take more shots with the team rebuilding . . . Durability is a major issue for JARED SULLINGER, but he has a chance to play big minutes for a team in need of his offensive skill set . . . A washed-up vet with arguably the worst contract in the NBA, GERALD WALLACE is of little use to the Celtics (or any other team) . . . KRIS HUMPHRIES is also dead weight, but is a more enticing trade chip due to an expiring contract.

CENTERS

Rookie KELLY OLYNYK is going to get pushed around, but he has some rare shooting and ball-handling skills for a 7-footer. Boston has little to lose by letting him learn on the job . . . VITOR FAVERANI is a tough-nosed Euro import who gives them insurance behind Olynyk.

BROOKLYN NETS

2012-13 SU record: 52-37 SU (58.4percent), 9th in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 43-44-2 ATS (49.4percent), 16th in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 15-to-2
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 14-to-1

GUARDS

DERON WILLIAMS will surely take on more of a distributor role this year, but hes still this teams best option from three-point range, as well . . . JOE JOHNSON started to break down last season, so along with fewer shots (with the upgrade to the rest of the roster), he figures to play fewer regular-season minutes as well . . . JASON TERRY is clearly in the decline phase of his career, but is still the top scoring option among Brooklyns second unit . . . ALAN ANDERSON gives them another shooter off the bench . . . SHAUN LIVINGSTON steps into the back-up point guard spot vacated by C.J. Watson. The injury-prone vet will be one of the more rarely used back-up PGs . . . TYSHAWN TAYLOR will be a non-factor.

FORWARDS

PAUL PIERCE still has something left in the tank. While his athleticism is fading, hes still a cagey scorer who can also play some point forward to set up Williams . . . ANDREI KIRILENKO will be a Swiss army knife sixth man and should see plenty of starts as new head coach Jason Kidd rotates which veterans rest . . . REGGIE EVANS was retained for his rebounding ability and willingness to look ridiculous while flopping . . . ANDRAY BLATCHE will continue to settle in as a second-unit big. Hes a name to remember for the future, as Kevin Garnett doesnt have much left in the tank . . . MIRZA TELETOVIC will be a seldom-used option as a stretch four . . . TORNIKE SHENGELIA is still years away from contributing, and the influx of veterans will further delay his development.

CENTERS

Last year did a lot to assuage durability concerns for BROOK LOPEZ. Hes highly skilled, and he may be forced to grab more rebounds now that Reggie Evans is on the second unit . . . KEVIN GARNETT will start at power forward. Hes still an effective pick-and-pop shooter and pick-and-roll defender, but hell have to rest often during the regular season . . . MASON PLUMLEE is in no position to help this season.



NEW YORK KNICKS

2012-13 SU record: 60-34 SU (63.8percent), 7th in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 52-41-1 ATS (55.9percent), 5th in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 13-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 35-to-1

GUARDS

RAYMOND FELTON is still the best the Knicks can do at point guard. With his shortcomings in the half court, head coach Mike Woodsons desire to go up-tempo should play to Feltons skill set a little bit better . . . IMAN SHUMPERT should be ready for a slightly bigger role. Hes their best perimeter defender and a good enough spot-up shooter to play off Carmelo Anthony . . . J.R. SMITHs offseason knee surgery is a bit of a concern, as is the fact that hes no longer in a contract year. Still, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year should light it up on many nights . . . PABLO PRIGIONI will be Feltons primary back-up. He disappears at times, but can at least knock down threes . . . BENO UDRIH will provide quality backup minutes after another solid year seeing big minutes in OrlandoTIM HARDAWAY JR. is likely looking at a redshirt year in 2013-14.

FORWARDS

Last year was CARMELO ANTHONYs dream offense, with lots of isolation plays. With his improved three-point shot, Melo should make a run at a second-straight scoring title . . . ANDREA BARGNANI might start by default, but hes more suited to a part-time role as a one-dimensional floor spacer . . . Expect to see a lot of lineups with either Anthony or METTA WORLD PEACE at the four. MWP is still good enough defensively to justify his erratic shot selection . . . AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE will likely be limited to a part-time role due to injuries. Hell try to re-invent himself as a second-unit scorer . . . KENYON MARTIN will be counted on to play some four and five off the bench . . . Athletic rookie C.J. LESLIE is ticketed for the D-League.



CENTERS

TYSON CHANDLER will be relied on heavily on the glass for what could be the weakest rebounding team in the NBA. The Knicks would like to keep his regular-season minutes down, but they may be forced to play him a lot if theyre going to get home court in a first-round playoff series . . . The Knicks will try to develop JEREMY TYLER into a useful No. 2 center.


PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
2012-13 SU record: 34-48 SU (41.5percent), T-19th in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 39-42-1 ATS (48.1percent), 19th in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 200-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 500-to-1

GUARDS
Welcome to Tankadelphia. MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS will be handed the reigns at the point, and has the size and savvy to create some offense. But a work-in-progress jumper and too many risky passes will lead to plenty of lost possessions . . . The Sixers would love to unload perennially disappointing ex-No. 2 pick EVAN TURNER. Hes yet to develop a jump shot, and while hell start for a laughably thin Philly team, he looks more and more like a second-unit player . . . JAMES ANDERSON could end up playing a lot of minutes off the bench, simply because the Sixers dont have enough NBA-caliber players . . . JASON RICHARDSON will miss at least half the season after major knee surgery. He may never contribute in the NBA againTONY WROTEN could see the floor plenty as a high-upside player who must cut down on his turnovers and improve his jump shot.
FORWARDS
THADDEUS YOUNG will likely step up as the No. 1 option, and he very well may be the only player on this team that would make a rotation of a playoff contender. Well see what he can do with defenses focused on stopping him . . . LAVOY ALLEN will be leaned on for heavy minutes as one of their few proven players . . . ARNETT MOULTRIE might end up with a very big role this year, as the Sixers are especially lacking post players. He at least rebounds and gets in peoples way defensively . . . Philly will try its hand with ROYCE WHITE, who has plenty of talent but just as much baggage. He and the Rockets couldnt see eye-to-eye with how to manage his anxiety issues . . . TIM OHLBRECHT might actually see the court on this team.
CENTERS
SPENCER HAWES should start at center, especially early. His mid-range shooting makes him one of the few offensive options on this team . . . Coming off a torn ACL, NERLENS NOEL probably wont be ready until December. He should contribute as a rim protector and rebounder, but will be pushed around and doesnt have much on offense . . . KWAME BROWN is waiting for his contract to be bought out.

TORONTO RAPTORS
2012-13 SU record: 34-48 SU (41.5percent), T-19 in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 41-40-1 ATS (50.6percent), 13th in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 65-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 125-to-1
GUARDS
KYLE LOWRY was banged up last season, but he enters this year healthy and has the potential to be one of the leagues best two-way point guards . . . DEMAR DEROZAN does a nice job attacking, but hes a flawed player unless he develops a jump shot . . . The Raptors want TERRENCE ROSS to attack the basket more often. But whether he develops a three-point shot could determine where he fits into this rotation . . . After a disastrous season in Indiana, D.J. AUGUSTIN will have to earn his rotation spot. Toronto could use his shooting, though . . . DWIGHT BUYCKS comes back from Europe to back up Lowry . . . Versatile JULYAN STONE is an interesting bit piece, as he reunites with GM Masai Ujiri, who brought him to Denver.
FORWARDS
Despite all that talent, RUDY GAYs poor shot selection and disinterested defense will have him on the trading block . . . AMIR JOHNSON will get another chance at full-time minutes. Despite some inconsistency, he still has the upside to be a good rebounder and shot-blocker . . . TYLER HANSBROUGH brings toughness and a decent mid-range jumper. Hes a second-unit talent, but could challenge Johnson for minutes . . . LANDRY FIELDS is a well-compensated reserve . . . STEVE NOVAK gives them a legitimate shooter among the second unit . . . Toronto will try to shake some of that upside out of AUSTIN DAYE . . . QUINCY ACY will move to the three, likely making this a redshirt year.
CENTERS
JONAS VALANCIUNAS is set to become Torontos new centerpiece. Talented enough for them to run the offense through him, hes rapidly improving on both ends of the court . . . AARON GRAY will stick around as a decent back-up, a 7-footer who can get in the way defensively.




NBA: Portland at Phoenix 10:30E TNT
2010-04-26

After Games 2 & 3 of the first round West playoff series between Portland and Phoenix, it would have been simple to just write BMW Motorcyles Rental in Costa Rica off the Blazers. Those games were decidedly won by the Suns. However, Portland came back strong on Saturday with an emotional boost from the return of Brandon Roy to even the series. The pivotal Game 5 is set for Monday, and Sportsbook.com oddsmakers list Phoenix as a 6-point home favorite.

Right before the series, the big news in the basketball desert was Portland was not going to have their best player, Roy, who was having minor surgery on a torn meniscus. Phoenix went out and celebrated their good fortune by going thru the motions in the series opener, falling by five as eight-point favorites.

The Suns took this series seriously the next two contests, pummeling Portland by 29 and 19 points respectively and got their swagger back, making this look like a five-game series was about to unfold.

However, word was Roy’s procedure was so minor he was able to shoot free throws and do straight line running within days and low and behold he was in uniform for Game 4.

With the theme of “Rocky” playing at the Rose Garden, a delirious crowd welcomes backed their superstar and Phoenix fell for it.

It was clear Roy lacked any lateral quickness, but the Suns coaches and players had a welcoming committee whenever he touched the ball, bring an extra man to guard him, for reasons unknown, freeing up other Blazers players.

“As soon as he checked into the game, I got my first open shot with nobody guarding me, so I was thinking thank God he’s back,” Aldridge said with his team 15-4 ATS after two or more Under’s.

Amare Stoudemire brought up what is becoming an annoying theme to Suns fans and backers. “We didn’t bring it, we just didn’t bring it,” Stoudemire said. “We realized how important the game was. We didn’t bring the effort, we didn’t bring the energy, we didn’t rebound, we didn’t attack. We had a chance to go up 3-1, which would have been great. Now we’ve got to go back to a must-win situation.”

Phoenix is 25-14 ATS after playing a road game and is a six-point favorite with total of 202. If the Suns expect to win this first round Western series they have to force the tempo and are 22-6 OVER at home after two away encounters.

Portland at least knows they are going back home for a Game #6, as they are 0-8 ATS off an upset win as a home underdog.

The StatFox Game Estimator, far more “accu”rate than that of Accuscore, calls for a 106-97 Phoenix win, good enough to beat the 6-point line at Sportsbook.