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NBA Handicapping: Weekly Look at Key Betting Statistics
by Dave Schwab - 1/25/2012

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LeBron James of the Miami Heat

There is always a wealth of information and statistics literally at your fingertips when it comes to handicapping matchups in the NBA, making it extremely easy to bog yourself down with every possible measure known to mankind. Sometimes it is the simple things in this game that can provide the most important insight to correctly predicting the actual outcome of a game.

This week we will take a look at which NBA teams are lighting up the score board on offense. Even though the regular season is only a couple of weeks old, often times these early trends can carry through an entire season to provide a consistent return on investment from your wagering activities.

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NBA 2011-12 Regular Season Overview

A good starting point when trying to analyze the NBA is to take a look at some of the statistics for the league as a whole, before focusing your efforts on an individual team. With a little more than 25 percent of this year’s abbreviated 66-game regular season in the books, the home team has won 61.5 percent of the time straight-up and 53 percent of the time against the spread, so there is already a slight built-in advantage for the home team no matter what the NBA odds are.

The total has stayed ‘under’ in 57.8 percent of all games, leading you to believe that the extended player layoff is currently favoring defense over offense. This is an important trend to track as the season progresses as this should begin to correct itself once the oddsmakers make the necessary adjustments.

Individual Team Results

When it comes to offense, a few familiar names have already worked themselves to the top of this year’s list with their play on the court. The No.1 ranked offense in the league through Tuesday night’s games by the simple measure of average points-per-game is the Denver Nuggets. They lead the league with an average of 105.5 points a game and have scored 110 points or more in eight of their first 17 games.

Denver comes into Wednesday night’s matchup against Sacramento at 12-5 both straight-up and against the spread. The total has gone ‘over’ in 10 of its 17 games. The Nuggets are shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three-point range. What makes Denver so attractive is that it is expected to score a ton of points every night and it normally does.

The next highest-scoring team in the league is the Miami Heat with an average of 104.6 points a game. The Heat have been even better than Denver shooting the ball; hitting 48.6 percent of their shots from the field and 39.2 percent from beyond the arc. The result on the court is an overall record of 12-5 SU, but a less than stellar 8-9 record ATS. The total has gone over in 10 of their 17 games as well. There are many reasons why Miami’s record ATS is under .500, but scoring more than 100 points a night is probably not one of them.

The expectation level for this team remains higher than any other team in the league which has a direct impact on the actual spreads for its games. Another huge factor is the bull’s eye that LeBron James painted on this team when he first arrived. The Heat are going to continue to get the best from every single team they face in every single game they play.

The third-best team so far on offense is a bit of a shocker. The Philadelphia 76ers have raced-out to a 12-5 start SU and have the best record in the league ATS at 12-4-1. The total has stayed under in 10 of their 17 games overall, but has gone over in five of eight on the road. Philadelphia is posting 99.9 points a game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from three-point range.

What has made the Sixers so potent this season is a defense that is giving up an average of just 88 points a game; giving them the highest scoring differential in the league at just below 12 points a game. This is the kind of team to keep riding until it runs out of gas. Coach Doug Collins has built a ball club that is talented, youthful, and can consistently play over its head. Unlike Miami, the expectation level for Philadelphia is almost non-existent among the betting public, so it will continue to receive favorable spreads from the oddsmakers.

The Bottom Line

A high-octane offense does not ensure SU wins, but it sure helps. ATS records depend on much more than how many points a team scores every night, but a high-scoring team can keep just about any game close enough to win if it is hot shooting the ball that particular night. Look for offensive teams that are flying way under the radar as they are largely ignored by the betting public.

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