How Does the NBA Bubble Impact US Sports Betting Odds?

The creation of the NBA Bubble caused a sensation earlier in 2020, with the action taken to ensure that the disruption to the season caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was limited.

Games have been taking place in these unique circumstances since late July, and fans have been able to see their teams take on rivals without players and other members of staff being put at risk.

Of course in a sense this return to normality is very much an illusion, and every athlete and coach is no doubt intimately aware of the unusual situation in which they find themselves. So the question, then, is how are bookmakers responding to these changes and what are the operators that offer sports betting in the USA on doing to their odds to accommodate this?

Unwavering fan support

The one thing that the unplanned break in the basketball season caused by the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated is that there is still plenty of enthusiasm for live games amongst the fan base.  Strong ratings achieved by the first games aired once the bubble had been created were a good sign for sports betting sites that people were eager to support teams even if they could not attend them in the flesh.

While betting odds are of course not directly related to the amount of public interest in a sport, the fact of the matter is that bigger sports get covered by more bookmakers, which in turn means that the market is more competitive and punters can hope to see a broader variety of odds options when they go to place a wager.

The upshot of this is that the vast majority of online and land-based betting brands have reliably been running odds on NBA games that have taken place since the bubble was introduced and the season resumed.

The element of uncertainty

In any competitive sporting context there are a whole host of variables at play which could cause an upset and allow underdogs to outdo the favorites, or vice versa. This state of affairs has been amplified as a result of the NBA Bubble, so theoretically it could be claimed that it is harder for bookmakers to produce accurate predictions concerning the outcome of games.

From such a point of view, it might seem like there is much more uncertain surrounding games played in the bubble, thus giving more credence to the concept that unlikely results will be more probable as the season comes to a close in 2020.

Perennial gamblers might leap at the chance to take advantage of this, although it is worth remembering that bookmakers are both aware of such eventualities and also entirely attuned to how the ebb and flow of play has been altered by the isolated nature of play at the moment.

Ultimately even with all of this uncertainty, the odds still reflect the fact that teams which have been performing well in the season so far have a better chance of winning when they face off against those with fewer points under their belts. The Bucks and the Raptors, for example, remain dominant alongside the teams with playoff positions, while outliers have fallen by the wayside, thus adhering to performance trajectories established early in the season long before the pandemic struck.

Professional resilience

Perhaps the most important factor that fans and bettors alike need to take into account when looking at NBA odds in the context of the bubble is that the top players are entirely at ease with operating under pressure.

Every away game is a situation in which the visiting team needs to get its head around performing in a potentially hostile environment, battling against the odds to snatch victory from adverse circumstances. In a sense, this makes every game within the bubble the equivalent of an away game, or at least this was the case for the first few face-offs.

That is not to say that there have not been one or two surprises since the season resumed. It was thought that the Bucks could be in with a shot, although losing to the Nets was a head-turning moment.

However you interpret the NBA Bubble and its impact on player psychology, team cohesion and overall performance, it seems that the knock-on effect of the pandemic will be felt for some time to come, with other events in doubt as more disruption looms. All of this will make keeping a close eye on betting odds essential.