NBA Teams That Have Given Up
by Trevor Whenham - 03/13/2008
Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, L.A. Clippers, Seattle Sonics, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves. What do those seven NBA teams have in common? A few things. All of them are truly terrible. The season is lost for all of them. And they are all playing like they know it. This pathetic band of losers has amassed a pitiful 14-56 combined record over their last 10 games. Their 24-46 ATS mark over that time is slightly better but still sad and costly for bettors. It gets worse - five of the games the teams covered were against other teams on this list, so the record against other teams drops to 19-41 ATS. Ouch. This is nothing new, of course. By February or March every year a group of teams are beyond hope and are just going through the motions until the season comes to a merciful end. The only thing they are playing for is more balls in the NBA Draft Lottery.
As much as these seven teams probably wish that the season was over, it isn't. They still have to finish the year off, and that means that NBA handicappers still have to figure out what to do with them. Here are six rules you can follow when you are dealing with these losers. Not all of the rules are true for all teams, but they are a good starting point:
1. Don't bet on them - This is oversimplified, but there are worse things you could do. The seven teams in this group this year are all playing very badly, and none of them have had a winning record against the spread over their last 10 games. If you had bet on any of them with any regularity you would be looking for a new hobby because you wouldn't have a bankroll anymore. Some people aren't going to want to do this, and that's why we have the other rules on this list, but sometimes passing on a game is the best way to deal with it, and that would apply to any game featuring these teams in my book.
2. Bet against them - Given the first rule, this one would seem more than a bit obvious. I included it, though, to reinforce the point, because it is a point worth noting. All seven of these teams were losers against the spread. Only one, Seattle, had as many as five covers over their last 10. They were, as I said earlier, just 19-41 ATS over that stretch against teams not from this group. That means that their opponents covered the spread 68.3 percent of the time. That's a pretty compelling number. If you can make money with that kind of trend then you shouldn't be betting. Still, though, people will be looking for situations where they can play these dud teams. That's masochistic, but I'll do what I can with the next four rules.
3. Skip the double digit spreads - These teams are not good against the spread in any situation, but they are particularly weak when they are outclassed. It's almost as if they decide in advance that they can't compete, so they don't even try. The teams have a combined record of 5-18 ATS in games where they are underdogs by 10 points or more. That means that the favorites have covered 78.3 percent of the time. Ugly. Like everything else we have talked about today, it is even worse than it looks. Seattle, the ATS stars of this group (at 32-31-1 ATS they are the only team to be above .500 ATS - still not profitable, but better than any other), are 3-2 ATS in double digit games. That means that the other six teams in the group are 2-16 ATS in these games. That's a .889 winning rate for the favorites. That means that you either want to bet on the faves in these spots or don't bet on the games at all. One seems like a better idea than the other.
4. The East is least, but just barely - The teams on the list have fared slightly better against teams in the East, but not nearly as much as you would think given how much weaker that conference is. The teams were 12-21 ATS against the East in that stretch, which means that they were 12-25 ATS against the West. Given that neither is particularly good, it would be a mistake to assume that bad teams have an overall advantage against one conference or the other.
5. Home isn't so sweet - You might assume that these teams would be better at home because most teams are. That would be a costly assumption. They are 12-25 ATS at home over their last 10 games. That means that at 12-21 ATS they are actually slightly better on the road, though not enough to get excited about. This result is a bit surprising, but it makes sense - when a team struggles as badly as these teams are it's not like the home court is a lively, vibrant place to be. Empty seats don't cheer that loud usually.
6. Don't bet on these teams - I have to go back to the first rule again, because it is clearly a good one.