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March Madness Bracket
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Get a $100 Free Bet - Paid Cash - No rollovers2013-01-30
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (17-15) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (18-13)2012-02-20Tip-off: Monday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -4, Total: 180
After yet another disappointing effort on the road (12-point loss at Phoenix), the Lakers return home Monday night in search of a fifth straight win at Staples Center when they host the Blazers.
In the past 20 meetings between these teams at Staples Center, the average spread has been 8Ĺ points. Monday's low spread is a gift, as L.A. is 17-3 SU in this span, winning those games by 11.0 PPG. The Lakers are 10-5 ATS at home, while the Blazers are 6-9 ATS on the road. Although LaMarcus Aldridge (sprained ankle) returned to action Saturday, he is not yet 100 percent and struggled mightily in his past four games at Staples, shooting a subpar 41.5% FG. The pick here is LOS ANGELES
to win and cover.
Portland is finally back to full strength with the return of PF LaMarcus Aldridge (22.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG), who missed the better part of three games with a sprained left ankle. Aldridge helped spark his team to a 97-77 home blowout of Atlanta on Saturday with 19 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes of action. SF Nicolas Batum (13.6 PPG) led all scorers with 22 points, continuing his hot play of late. Batum has 22.8 PPG on 53% FG in his past four games, all starts. He also scored 25 in his teamís last road game with the Lakers last March. PG Raymond Felton (10.1 PPG, 6.4 APG) bounced back from a scoreless (0-for-7 FG) Thursday night against the Clippers and scored 14 points with eight assists against the Hawks. His career numbers versus the Lakers are pretty solid (15.2 PPG, 6.6 APG), but he shot only 3-of-14 FG in the last meeting on Jan. 5, a 107-96 Blazers home win. Speaking of that last meeting, Gerald Wallace (13.8 PPG) tallied a season-high 31 points in that win. But Wallace has struggled on the road this year with just 9.8 PPG on 38.5% FG (25.9% 3-pt FG).
Kobe Bryant (NBA-high 29.0 PPG) vented his frustration after Sundayís 102-90 loss in Phoenix, a game in which his team trailed by 27 points in the third quarter. Bryant turned the ball over 10 times in the defeat, but still finished with 32 points, seven boards and five assists. PF Pau Gasol (16.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG) posted his ninth straight double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) in the loss, as he has been able to overcome the distractions of swirling trade rumors (which Bryant disapproves of) to average 17.4 PPG and 13.7 RPG in this nine-game span. Gasol averages 17.1 PPG and 9.0 RPG in 36 career meetings with Portland. C Andrew Bynum (16.3 PPG, 12.5 RPG) has double-doubles in eight of his past 10 games, averaging 16.4 PPG and 13.1 RPG during this span.
NBA: San Antonio-Phoenix Series Betting Preview2010-05-03
This past weekend we heard a great deal about how Boston and Cleveland donít really like each other. While this information is certainly true it pales in comparison to how Phoenix and San Antonio feel about one another. That is Microsoft and Apple doing battle, this is the real deal like Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonaldís vs. Burger King, Jennifer Aniston vs. Angelina Jolie. Whatís more the Suns have been bounced out of the playoffs four times by the team from southwest Texas since 2003. This is going to be war. Sportsbook.com provided the series odds, installing the Suns as -145 favorites. Letís take a look at the matchup.
Steve Nash did not practice the previous two days before this Western Conference semi-final opened, resting his sore right hip. The most obvious question was it a reoccurrence of the infamous hip check former Spur Robert Horry laid on Nash or something completely different.
The Suns have had the home court advantage over San Antonio the last two times these teams have met in the postseason and came up short. They believe this time will be different, not being strictly a running team and being able to play defense for extended periods of time.
"It's like super-transition `D' against these guys," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "They're really playing well, and the best shooting team ever, basically, from 3. Great chemistry, sharing the ball, playing 'D'. Alvin (Coach Gentry) and his group have done a great job. The players have really bought in, and they do a lot of things really well."
Phoenix will have to use similar formula that allowed them to win four of last five games against Portland. Running a controlled break which leads to layups or find spot up shooters like Jason Richardson and rain down threeís.
The Suns also received bench contributions from a number of players from Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley to Channing Frye and others. The Suns are 26-7 and 23-9-1 ATS since Feb. 19 (have not lost two straight since Jan. 25-26) and this streak coincided when they collectively bought into Gentryís preaching about team defense and Amare Stoudemire deciding he wanted to be one of the best players in the NBA. Stoudemire loves to see the Spurs coming with 24.6-point playoff average against them (28.8 PPG if rookie season is dropped) and he posted 32.7 points and 11.3 rebounds on San Antonio this season.
Grant Hill might be 37, but he missed so much time over a five year period of his career, his legs are that of a much younger player and he is the Suns best defender. Whether he starts on Manu Ginibili is immaterial, since eventually he will make his way over to him defensively.
Though both teams have many new faces, Nash knows what to expect and believes the series will come down to "the usual suspects." For San Antonio that is Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili, especially right now.
Duncan has slowed from his early days, but he is still a crafty veteran and the Suns donít have that big physical guy that could create more problems for Duncan even if Robin Lopez returns. Duncan should expect to see several combo defenses and will have to find shooters and cutters when the Suns double him.
Parker has accepted his role off the bench, still seeing ample minutes as George Hill takes over as true point guard. This allows Parker to freelance more without the ball and forces defenders to chase.
If it were not for Hill and Ginobili, a reasonable argument could be made the Spurs might not have made the playoffs when Parker was injured. The Argentinean has done everything, scoring literally anywhere on the floor and became the emotional leader. He is the one player in this series that could single-handedly win a game or two by himself.
Richard Jefferson could play a prominent role in this noteworthy conflict. The former Net and Buck didnít have much of an impact during the regular season, but after being a non-factor in Game 1 loss to Dallas, the rest of the series he was steady contributor and if he can keep the Suns J-Rich busy on defense, itís shown his point production diminishes.
Most of the confrontations in this series are expected to have totals of 200 or higher and Popovichís teams are 53-36 ATS when the number is 200 or higher.
This series really comes down to a test of wills. Can Phoenix keep their poise and not let a few Spurs antics get to them? In the past San Antonio had a size edge over the Suns, they do not this time, will that be a burden? This has the look and feel of seven games and even that might not be enough for regulation play. As long as Nash is healthy, the Suns should finally knock off their nemesis like they did in the regular season (2-1 and 3-0 ATS), however it wonít be easy.
Pick- Phoenix (-145) in seven over San Antonio (+115)