Five NBA Betting Trends For Stretch Run
by Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinclair - 02/17/2009
The Second Season is set to begin in the NBA and now it's time for both players and gamblers to roll up their sleeves and get down to business.
If you are way up on the year you are in the class of the Lakers, Cavaliers, Magic and Celtics; you want to keep pressing to get home court advantage and roll into the playoffs with some momentum, and you want to avoid complacency and a late slide. If you are hovering around the break-even mark then it's time to make the tough decisions: do you either press forward doing the same things you have been doing or do you make some drastic moves, change up your mojo and try to catch some lightning. And finally, if you are way in the hole you have to decided whether to mail it in on this season and start gearing up for baseball or if you should throw caution to the wind and keep plugging away for the next few months.
Regardless, it's important to know what happened, for good or ill, in the first half of the NBA season if you plan on making a move over the next four months. I've taken a look at five specific teams in particular situations through the first half of the year. These five clubs have provided us with five trends that I think will continue to be at the foundation of the NBA betting structure through the second half of the season:
1. The Indiana Pacers are 33-20-1 versus the total thus far this season and there is no looking back, in my opinion. Many books catch up to a team like this by setting the totals in the 220s consistently. But when it comes to the Pacers and their complete lack of defensive talent the 220s are nothing to worry about. Indiana has seen 14 totals at 215 or higher and they are 10-4 against the total in those games. Dec. 28 was the last time the Pacers saw a total of 199 or less and they have gone 'over' in 14 of the 24 games since.
Now, the Pacers are a clear 'over' club and have railed the totals number in 62.3 percent of their games this season. However, the NBA is still an 'under' league. Only nine of the 30 teams in the league have topped the total in over 53 percent of their games. And only three - Indiana, the Lakers and the Clippers - have nailed over 60 percent. Philadelphia, Detroit, Orlando, Cleveland and Charlotte are your best 'under' bets and I don't see that changing either.
2. The Orlando Magic are 33-17-1 ATS and they have been playing absolutely outstanding basketball. But the Magic were hit with awful news when Jameer Nelson went out with his possible season-ending injury. The Magic are still a solid 6-3 ATS since.
Orlando was one of three teams that won 50 ATS contests last season and they look like a sure shot to repeat that feat this year. Yet, without Nelson it will be difficult for the ragtag group of point guards for the Magic to get the job done. The rest of this team - mainly Rashard Lewis, Turkey Glue, and Dwight "Superman" Howard - have stepped up their games without Nelson. But the later we get in the year the more important guard play will become. And I just don't know if Orlando can overtake the Cavs or Celtics or perform ATS in big games without a top-notch floor general.
Besides keeping an eye on whether their point guard situation negative or positively affects their ATS performance, something else to monitor is how Orlando reacts if they wrap up the division early. If that's the case they will start to play their big names less and less to rest them for the playoffs. This would have a dramatic effect on their ATS record.
3. The Milwaukee Bucks are the feel good team of the season. They have been without most of their offensive firepower and team leaders for a majority of the season thus far and they are still amongst the league leaders in ATS wins. The Bucks are 31-22-2 on the year and with the way they have played there is no reason to doubt that they will slow up in the second half. It looks as if the Michael Redd injury might have been a blessing in disguise as it has re-opened the door for Ramon Sessions. Ramon has averaged 21 points per game since the Redd injury and the Bucks are .500 both ATS and SU.
Now, .500 isn't that great but considering the Bucks lost their best offensive player/team leader/Olympian .500 doesn't look that bad. If Milwaukee can play .500 the rest of the season they should continue their season right into the playoffs and continue to rake cash at the window. 4. The Oklahoma City Thunder were on the bottom of my list of favorite sports franchises. I was extremely upset that the Supersonics had become the Thunder. I mean come on, the Thunder? You have got to be kidding me. However, Oklahoma City has provided their backers with 33 reasons to smile in the first half.
OKC is 33-20 ATS and they have actually become somewhat fun to watch. With Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook the Thunder have a young nucleus that is worth the price of admission. Now on to the bad news. I don't see this continuing throughout the second half. The books will catch up and Oklahoma City will see less and less +15 point spreads. When you see monster numbers like that anyone can cover a spread, but when the 15 becomes seven or eight their ATS numbers won't be as gaudy.
5. What in the world went wrong with the Phoenix Suns? We know all about the Terry Porter Debacle. It quickly became evident that this was not going to work, as the Suns are now the proud owners of the worst ATS record in the league at 17-31-2. (I forgot to add that they are only five games over .500 SU as well. Ouch!) But now Porter is gone, Amare Stoudamire looks as though he is headed somewhere else as well, and Jason Richardson was just busted for driving 90 miles an hour in a 35 mph speed zone with his three-year-old child not in a car seat. Things are not looking up for Phoenix in the present but once they get things situated I see the Suns making a run in the second half. There is no way they duplicate their poor ATS record of the first part of the year.