NBA Handicapping: Hot or Cold Report
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/3/2009
The NBA's best team against the spread did a lot to shake off a few bandwagon jumpers this past week by losing three of four games. After an unexpected 11-2 start that caught everyone in the NBA off guard, Vegas wised up and started making the Hawks favorites regardless of who they were playing or were they were playing.
By losing three of four and only covering one of five games last week, Atlanta will get a break from the books and nowhere was that more evident than in a home game against Toronto. Atlanta was only giving nine to a far inferior team and Atlanta rolled to a 146-115 home win. The lines will remain reasonable as Atlanta embarks on one of the easiest stretches of its season with home games against New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Memphis sandwiched around road trips to Dallas and Toronto.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are owners of the best record in the NBA but still under .500 ATS. What are bettors to do with the defending champs? After a 0-5 start ATS the Lakers have turned things around even though the point spreads are continuing to increase. Already this season the Lakers have been favored by 9.5 or more nine times. In those games the Lakers are 6-3 ATS. Los Angeles can continue to see similar lines as they welcome Miami, Phoenix, Utah and Minnesota to the Staples Center next week. Now is a good time to start riding the Lake Show, regardless of how high the line gets.
The Kings have made remarkable strides this season. A team expected to win only a handful of games, the Kings have already won nine including four in a row heading into Saturday. The Kings have also covered four games in a row and are 12-5 ATS, second best mark in the NBA. However, the four-game winning streak was all done at home and against the likes of New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and Indiana. The Kings were favored in all four of those games. They may not be favored again until late December.
The Kings, an abominable team on the road, now head on a stretch of games that will send them out of town seven out of their next 10 games, including trips to Phoenix, New Orleans, San Antonio and Portland. Sacramento is 4-3 ATS on the road this season but that was back when the team was expected to challenge for a lottery pick. Now that their potential has been seen the lines will not be as generous and the Kings run of success ATS looks to be waning.
The Raptors are in a full-fledged, free-falling nose dive and the good news for bettors who have been taking advantage of the Raptors' horrendous defense: there is no safety net in sight. No wholesale changes are expected as Toronto will try to create the sense of remaining competitive as to not perturb Chris Bosh.
The Raptors have lost five straight and have failed to cover, or even come close to covering, in all five games. With players like Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Hedo Turkoglu and Jose Calderon, do not expect Las Vegas to completely give up on this team and start posting outrageous spreads. But maybe they should. Can any team really be this bad on the road? The Raptors are 2-9 on the road this season and 3-8 ATS away from the Air Canada Centre. You know what that means, cue the road trip. Toronto is headed to Washington, Chicago and Milwaukee in a span of four games.
New Jersey Nets
No article on the NBA would be complete without some mention of the train wreck of a season the New Jersey Nets are enduring. I am here to say there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Considering the Nets as a team cooling down would be like forecasting a temperature drop in the Arctic Circle. But that is exactly what is on the forecast for the Nets. Against the spread the Nets do best when the lines are in double figures. They are 4-3 ATS in those situations. Up ahead now for the team who has already rewrote the NBA record books for worst start to a season, is a slate of winnable games.
We will define winnable games as point spreads of four points or less. In these so called winnable games, the Nets this season are obviously winless SU and 0-4 ATS. With games up ahead against Charlotte, New York, Chicago, Golden State and Indiana, the Nets will not be getting bailed out by the oddsmakers' point spreads, they will actually have to keep things close.
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