Two Golden Rules of 2014 NBA Gambling

1. Never just “throw in the Heat” on a parlay.

As a fan, if a team you hate is really, really, really good, then it’s often really tempting to gamble on them. I think a lot of people do it to put themselves in a “win-lose” situation instead of just a “lose” situation. But this strategy can lead to what I have dubbed the ‘Iron Bowl’ effect.

In the 2013 Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama, I placed the biggest bet of my life on the Crimson Tide. I loved to hate them, and I had watched them stomp team after team. They were unbeatable. I rooted against them 100 times, and they rained disappointment down on me all 100 of those occasions. Obviously, when Auburn defeated Alabama on the famous (or infamous, depending on what part of Alabama you’re from), I was less than thrilled although it should have pleasured me to see them lose.

The Heat offer me this same conundrum. In the NBA world, a weeknight parlay can be an innocent thing. The Pacers have the Bucks at home, the Thunder are hosting the Bobcats, and the Spurs are slated to remind the Lakers that they have never sucked this badly. So you parlay them. Why not? Betting on one of those games (probably looking at -800 or even -1000 moneylines) is going to win you maybe a dime on the dollar. But, put them together and you can come up with close to even odds on a string of three games that would take a shocker, ejection, or dismantling injury to disrupt.

Enter, the Miami Heat.

I can’t remember a squad that had enough talent to get to three consecutive finals that was as unreliable against the league’s worst during the regular season. We’re talking about back-to-back world champions who lost their second game of the regular season to the 76ers (who aren’t even pretending to try to win games anymore).

The Heat are 40-14. But they’re not losing to the NBA’s crème de la crème. Other than the horrific Sixers, they’ve lost to the Celtics (20-40), Pistons (23-36), Kings (20-39), Knicks (21-39) and THE UTAH JAZZ (21-38).

I get that the NBA season is long, and they are playing professionals every night. My point is, when you are throwing three or four -800 moneyline bets into a parlay on Wednesday night, and that Heat matchup makes you a little greedy, just say no.

2. Never bet against the Bulls at home.

I don’t know if it’s their defensive identity, Thibs’ attitude, or if there’s some magic lingering in that arena from more promising days, but the Bulls can beat anyone on their home floor. It doesn’t mean they always do, but when you see that tiny spread sandwiched between the Pacers at the Bulls, and you think the boys in gold will surely cover, take a deep breath and remember, this Chicago team is a squad that could gut out one win over any team during the regular season if they had to. They’d be my pick in any NBA hunger games competition.

Sometimes, the Bulls cease to be a basketball team and morph into a slew of reject heavyweights with chips on their shoulders. In an NBA battle royale, it’d be hard to pick against those guys. They could be featuring Joakim at the point and Boozer at the 2-guard, and they’d still give any visiting team all they could handle on the right night.

Remember, this was the team that beat Indiana to terminate the Pacers’ 9-0 start, and then stuck it to the Heat two weeks later. That makes the Bulls one of only four teams in the league have notched a win over both Indiana and Miami — both coming on their home floor.

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