NBA Totals Betting: Handicapping Trends Report
by Aaron Smith - 1/4/2013
It’s time for the second edition of the NBA Totals Trends Report. At Doc’s Sports, we like to take a closer look inside the data 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. Totals are another way to bet on the NBA, so 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. Please note that all statistics used in this article are for games played from Dec. 20 through Jan. 2.
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Top Five Over Teams (over listed first then under)
--Orlando Magic (6-1) Jacque Vaughn is getting his first chance at a head coaching job this year. Vaughn said before the season he was committed to making the Magic into a team that pushes the tempo and runs the floor well. They started the season a little slower than expected, but it seems like Vaughn is starting to get his guys to buy into the new style of play. Six straight Orlando games have finished over the posted total.
--Houston Rockets (5-2) No team in the NBA pushes the tempo like the Houston Rockets. Kevin McHale’s team is averaging almost 106 points per game this year. Oddsmakers are putting up big numbers for Houston, but they keep flying over those totals. Houston has scored 116 points or more in five of their last eight games. For the season, the over is 18-14 in the Rockets games. At some point, the oddsmakers will catch up to this high-flying team.
--Sacramento Kings (5-2) The Sacramento Kings seemed to experiment with slowing the tempo down a bit earlier this year, but it didn’t help them a bit. Now, they are back to forcing the issue and trying to outscore their opponent. Sacramento just doesn’t have the personnel to win games with a suffocating defense. This is one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, and they will likely continue to give up some very big numbers all year.
--Oklahoma City Thunder (4-2) Oklahoma City has played some high-scoring games in the past couple weeks. They have piled up the points against some teams that really don’t play much defense at all. Oklahoma City continues to knock down free throws better than anyone else in the league, which has helped push several of their games just barely over the posted total. The Thunder are playing much better defense this year as well, which complicates betting on totals with this team. Oklahoma City is only allowing opponents to shoot 43 percent from the floor.
--Dallas Mavericks (5-3) Dallas has lost eight of their last nine games overall. Rick Carlisle has threatened players that he might start suspending them if he doesn’t see better effort. The Mavericks are slowly working Dirk Nowitzki back into the lineup. Dallas is dead last in the league in defensive rebounding, and opponents’ second-chance opportunities are definitely hurting this team.
Top Five Under Teams (under listed first then over)
--Philadelphia 76ers (5-1) Doug Collins’ teams always work hard on the defensive end. The 76ers weren’t nearly as good as expected defensively early in the year, but they are slowly improving. Losing Andre Iguodala hurt this team a lot, and they could really use a big man in the middle like Andrew Bynum. Bynum is still injured, and there is no timetable for his return. After their impressive win over the Lakers this past weekend, they followed it up with an ugly loss to the Suns. This team has been unable to play with consistency.
--Minnesota Timberwolves (4-1) The Timberwolves have had the lightest schedule in the league over the past two weeks. Minnesota picked up a massive win over Oklahoma City two weeks ago, but they have lost three of their last four since that game. Ricky Rubio is struggling with a minor back injury, and the Timberwolves offense has been out of sync lately. Kevin Love is only shooting 35 percent from the floor this year.
--Denver Nuggets (5-2) Denver has been one of the fastest-paced teams in the league for the past few years. They are still pushing the tempo, but the Nuggets are playing much better defense than they have previously. Kenneth Faried and Javale McGee give the team two elite shot blockers in the paint. Iguodala is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. This team has a lot more balance now, which will likely make them a tough out in the playoffs.
--Phoenix Suns (5-2) Phoenix hasn’t played hardly any defense the majority of the season. Oddsmakers started putting some very high totals on the Suns games, but in the past two weeks Phoenix has played a little bit of defense. Phoenix is another very inconsistent team, and it won’t surprise me a bit to see them go on streaks on both sides of this totals trends report throughout the season.
--Brooklyn Nets (2-4) Avery Johnson was fired after the Nets fell apart in the past month. It will be interesting to see what the Nets do in terms of tempo without Johnson as their coach. Right now, the Nets have the second-slowest pace in the league. Will they continue to try to slow the game down, or will the Nets change their philosophy? This is a team to keep your eye on in the next couple weeks.
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