NBA Handicapping: Weekly Look at Key Betting Statistics
by Dave Schwab - 2/1/2012
The NBA regular season enters its second full month today, and by now there is a wealth of information and statistics on all 30 teams that is literally at your fingertips when it comes to handicapping current matchups. The problem is that sometimes you end up bogging yourself down by trying to study every possible measure known to mankind. Most often it is the simple things in this game that can provide the most valuable information for correctly predicting the actual outcome of a game.
This week we will take a look at which NBA teams have shown the ability to play sound defense in the early part of the year. Often times these early trends can carry through an entire season to provide a consistent return on investment from your NBA betting activities.
NBA 2011-12 Regular Season Overview
As of Tuesday night’s games, the Los Angeles Clippers have played the fewest games at 18 and the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons have played the most at 23. This means that roughly a third of this year’s 66-game schedule is in the books.
The favorites have won 52.6 percent of the time against the spread with an overall record of 180-162-2. The home team has won 52.1 percent of the time ATS with an overall record of 178-164-2. Combining these two results, it is easy to see why the best return so far has been with the home favorite, which has covered the spread in 53.5 percent of the games to date.
The early trends on the total line are still favoring defense over offense with 56.6 percent of the games staying ‘under’ the total, which is down slightly from 57.8 percent this time last week. It is only a matter of time before the oddsmakers’ total lines better sync themselves with the actual scoring trends, so this number should continue to decrease.
Individual Team Results - Defense
The fact that the Philadelphia 76ers are currently at the top of this list may be a bit of a surprise to some, but Head Coach Doug Collins is all about team and all about balance on both sides of the ball. The 76ers lead the NBA in points allowed; holding their opponents to an average of 86.1 points a game. They are also holding their opponents to shooting just 41.4 percent from the floor and 28.9 percent from three-point range. While Philadelphia’s roster is not filled with any household names, as a team it is averaging 4.9 blocks and 9.1 steals a game. It just so happens that the Sixers also have the best record in the league ATS at 14-6-1.
The second team on the list is the Chicago Bulls, who currently have the best record in the NBA at 18-5 SU (14-9 ATS). The Bulls are holding teams to 87.4 points a game and outrebounding them 45.3- 39.8, which is by far the best margin in the league. Chicago is holding opponents to shooting 42.6 percent from the floor and 35.4 from beyond the arc and is ranked fourth in blocked shots with 6.2 per game with. While Derrick Rose grabs all the headlines with his 23.2 points a game, the Bulls remain one of the hardest-working defensive teams in the league.
The final team of note when it comes to playing defense is the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. This is another meat-and-potatoes team that loves to grind it out night after night. They are only averaging 94.7 points a game, but are ranked fifth in points allowed; giving-up an average of 90.6 points a game. The Mavericks are holding opponents to shooting 42.1 percent from the field and ranked fourth in steals with 9.3 a game. They are ranked 10th in total rebounds with an average of 43.1 a game. Dallas’s defensive efforts have helped the team to a 14-8 start SU, but more importantly, it is also a very profitable 14-8 ATS.
The Bottom Line
As the old saying goes “defense wins championships,” but in the early going of this season it also makes you money. The three teams noted above have collectively covered the spread in 63.7 percent of their games this year to provide a solid return on investment for anyone who has consistently wagered on them.
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