NBA Totals Betting: Handicapping Trends Report
by Aaron Smith - 12/21/2012
At Doc’s Sports, we like to take a closer look inside the numbers to help find valuable betting trends. The bi-weekly NBA Hot and Cold Report helps keep bettors up to date regarding the hot and cold teams as far as covering the number. Since totals are another great way to bet on the NBA, we decided to start a bi-weekly article which will track which teams are trending “over” and which teams are trending “under” versus the posted total. Over the course of the long season, some teams will change their style multiple times, so trends like these can be very useful. Please note that all statistics used in this article are for games from the beginning of the season through Dec. 19.
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Top Five Over Teams (Over listed first then under)
--Golden State Warriors (16-9) Golden State has been the biggest surprise in the league so far this year. Mark Jackson set out to improve the team’s defense, and he has done that. The Warriors are still giving up quite a few points, but their opponents are only shooting 43.6 percent from the floor. The Warriors are pushing the pace and scoring in bunches. Who can blame them when you have pure scorers like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes on the roster? When Andrew Bogut gets back in the lineup this number might change a bit, but he isn’t expected back until sometime in January.
--Philadelphia 76ers (16-9) Doug Collins’ team has been near the top of the league in defensive statistics the past couple years, but the defense hasn’t been the same this season. Philadelphia is allowing opponents to shoot 45.6 percent from the floor. What happened in Philadelphia to make the defense worse? Andre Iguodala is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, and the team’s defense has suffered quite a bit without him in the lineup. Andrew Bynum could help the defense too, if he ever gets completely healthy.
--Dallas Mavericks (15-10) The Dallas Mavericks offense has been better than almost anyone could have expected so far this year. Without Dirk Nowitzki there was plenty of concern regarding whether this team could put up enough points, but O.J. Mayo’s breakout season is making this offense very dangerous. Mayo is averaging 20.6 points per game and shooting better than 50 percent from beyond the three-point line. Another big benefit for the over is that Dallas ranks second in the NBA in pace (possessions used per game) so far this year.
--Boston Celtics (14-10) Most people will be surprised to see the Celtics on this side of the list. Boston has generally been a defensive-minded team in the past few years. The consistency on the defensive end hasn’t been there this year, and that is why the Celtics are only one game above .500 this season. Boston is also fifth in field goal percentage offense, so even without a quick pace the Celtics can put some points on the board.
--Charlotte Bobcats (14-10) The young Bobcats have picked up the pace quite a bit this year. They rank in the Top 10 in the NBA in possessions per game. Charlotte is dead last in the league in points allowed per game. The Bobcats are giving up 104.4 points per game. Opponents get second chances far too often because of the Bobcats weak defense rebounding. Six Bobcats are averaging at least 11 points per game this season.
Top Five Under Teams (Under listed first then over)
--Chicago Bulls (16-8) Chicago is a team that has been at or near the top of the defensive charts each of the last three years. This year’s team doesn’t have as much offensive firepower with Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton out of the lineup, but they still play tough defense. Opponents are shooting just 42.4 percent from the floor against the Bulls. Chicago is giving up only 90.3 points per game, which is second best in the league. This is a team that generally uses up the shot clock as well. It’s hard to imagine them changing their style, but when will the oddsmakers catch up?
--Memphis Grizzlies (15-8) Memphis is first in the NBA in points allowed per game. The Grizzlies are giving up only 89.5 points per game this season. Memphis has the third best record in the Western Conference, and their improved defense is a big reason why. Rudy Gay still leads the team in scoring, but he is shooting a career-low 41.8 percent from the floor so far this year.
--Brooklyn Nets (15-9) Brook Lopez is one of the best defensive players in the NBA. His presence in the paint makes the Nets defense tough to penetrate against. Brooklyn is playing at the slowest pace of any team in the NBA so far this year. Interestingly, the under is 9-1-1 in their 11 away games this year, so the Nets have been a great under team on the road. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are both in bad shooting slumps right now, and that has led to more games finishing under the total as well.
--Milwaukee Bucks (14-9) Early in the year the Milwaukee Bucks were pushing the tempo at every opportunity, but it seems they have slowed down a lot in the past couple weeks. The under is 10-4 in their last 14 games overall. Milwaukee seems to be focusing on clamping down at the defensive end and getting better looks on the offensive end. Until the books adjust for this slower tempo, there might be a little bit of value left in the under in Milwaukee’s games.
--Orlando Magic (13-9) Orlando has been surprisingly good on the defensive end of the floor this season. The Magic are only allowing opponents to hit a measly 32.4 percent of their three-point attempts. Offensively, Orlando doesn’t have many guys (other than J.J. Redick) to stretch the floor like they had a year ago. Orlando is hitting just 33.7 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. The Magic are only averaging 92.8 points per game.
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