We’re sitting at almost exactly the midpoint of the NBA season. There are some big surprises to the upside in the league, and there have been some major disappointments. Who could have ever expected that the Golden State Warriors would be nearly 10 games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings halfway through the season? That’s why they play the games instead of going by the perceived talent on paper. Who’s streaking and who is slumping right now? Doc’s Sports will be posting an NBA Hot and Cold Report every two weeks this year to help you stay ahead of the game. Please note that statistics in this initial report are from games played between Jan. 10 and Jan. 24.
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Top Five “Hot” ATS NBA Teams
-Washington Wizards (7-0 ATS) If you didn’t think John Wall made a big difference to this team before, you definitely should now. John Wall returned seven games ago, and the Wizards have covered the spread in every game he has played in this year. Wall may not be a primary scorer, but he gets everyone else on the team open looks with his ball-handling and passing abilities. Kevin Seraphin and Nene are doing a great job in the frontcourt over the past couple weeks as well. Washington has six guys averaging double figures in scoring. Be careful not to pay up too much for this team in the coming days, because the books are bound to catch up soon.
-Dallas Mavericks (6-0 ATS) A few weeks ago, Rick Carlisle was threatening to suspend Mavericks players because of their poor play. Now, the Mavericks have covered the spread in six straight games. Dirk Nowitzki is starting to look a little more comfortable, and OJ Mayo continues to have a career year for Dallas. The biggest improvements this team has made in the past few weeks have been on the defensive end. Keep an eye on the Mavericks as they try to make a run at the playoffs in the Western Conference.
-Toronto Raptors (6-2-1 ATS) You have to give the Toronto Raptors a lot of credit for how well they’ve competed of late. They are playing without stars Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valunciunas for quite some time, but they definitely aren’t just rolling over. The Raptors are actually 13-7 ATS at home, versus a record of 10-12-1 ATS on the road. Seven of the team’s next nine games are at home, so they might make this list again in two weeks.
-New Orleans Hornets (5-2 ATS) New Orleans is 14-28 overall this year, but they are 23-19 ATS. The Hornets (soon to be the New Orleans Pelicans) have several guys who are really putting together terrific seasons. Greivis Vasquez is in his third-year in the NBA, and this has been a major break-out season for him. Ryan Anderson became a well-known shooting star for Orlando last year, and he is taking it up another notch this year. Anthony Davis is everything he was hyped as coming into this year. This team is on the rise.
-Detroit Pistons (4-2 ATS) Detroit is one of those team’s that isn’t very good, but right now they are a little better than the oddsmakers believe. It’s all about value when betting on the NBA, and lately there has been some solid value on the Pistons as underdogs. Opponents are shooting only 43.9 percent from the floor against the Pistons, so the team’s defense has definitely improved over the past year. Three of the team’s next four games are against playoff teams, so this will be a big test.
Bottom Five “Cold” ATS NBA Teams
-Houston Rockets (0-8 ATS) After two straight times on the “hot” side of this list, the Rockets are as cold as ever right now. Houston has failed to cover the number in nine straight games. What changed for a team that seemed to be playing so well together just a few weeks ago? James Harden is still scoring, but his shooting percentages have plummeted of late. Jeremy Lin has been a little underwhelming, and the Rockets defense is just miserable.
-Sacramento Kings (1-6-1 ATS) After briefly getting on the other side of this list, the Kings are back to disappointing bettors of late. For the season, the Kings are just 17-24-1 ATS. Sacramento has some talented players, but it seems like team chemistry is always an issue here over the past few years. If this group can’t start playing more like a team, you have to wonder if they’ll stick together much longer.
-Boston Celtics (1-5-1 ATS) Looking for the team who has lost bettors backing them the most money this year? Boston is now 14-25-3 ATS this year, which is the worst of any team in the NBA. It might be about time that expectations are adjusted in Boston. This isn’t a team that is capable of competing for a title anymore, and they might not even have enough to get into the playoffs. When will the oddsmakers get a good hold on this team?
-Minnesota Timberwolves (1-5-1 ATS) If there is a team on the “cold” list that has a good excuse for playing poorly of late, it would have to be the Minnesota Timberwolves. Injuries are a major problem for this team. The loss of Kevin Love is obviously the biggest blow, but losing Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved has hurt the team a ton in the past couple weeks. Both Pekovic and Shved were having terrific seasons, and the Timberwolves are struggling to replace their scoring.
-Los Angeles Lakers (2-5 ATS) The Los Angeles Lakers are once again one of the coldest teams in the league against the number. Where do you start when trying to describe the issues with this team? A complete lack of team unity should be at the top of the list. Does bringing Pau Gasol off the bench really help the team? Gasol is one of the best big men in the league, and it’s hard for me to see how this experiment will benefit anyone involved.
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