NBA Handicapping: Weekly Look at Key Betting Statistics
by Dave Schwab - 3/21/2012
When it comes to wagering on the NBA there is an abundant amount of statistics and raw data readily available to help handicap a particular matchup. The trick is to not get bogged down with information overload as many times it is the simple measures that can be the most useful in correctly predicting the outcome of a game.
This week we will take a look at which NBA teams have continued to play shutdown defense in relation to their overall record against the spread and on the total line. Oftentimes these trends tend to carry through the entire season, which, in turn, helps provide a consistent return on investment from your NBA betting activities.
NBA 2011-12 Regular Season Update
With over two-thirds of the NBA regular season in the books, the favorite has won 66.6 percent of the time straight up, but has only covered against the spread in 48.9 percent of the games. The home team has won 59.2 percent on the time SU and 50.4 percent of the time ATS. The slight edge through more than 700 NBA games this season goes to the flat-out underdog, who has won 51.3 percent of the time ATS.
The slight edge on the total line goes to the ‘under’ with 51.8 percent of all games staying under the total. This trend is down from earlier in the season as the oddsmakers continue to do a good job at sharpening the total lines for the games.
Top Three Defensive Teams
The top defensive team in the NBA, according to points allowed and defensive field goal percentage, is the Philadelphia 76ers. Through 46 games Philadelphia is giving up an average of 87.7 points a game while holding its opponents to just 41.8 percent shooting from the field. This recipe has served the 76ers well as they continue to lead Boston in the Atlantic Division by a game and a half with an overall record of 26-20. They have also remained profitable ATS at 24-21-1 overall and 15-10 ATS at home. The real edge with this team is on the total line with 28 of its 46 games staying under the total. This has been especially true at home with the total staying under in 18 of Philly’s 25 games.
The next team on the list just happens to be the best team in the league both SU and ATS. The Chicago Bulls are holding their opponents to an average of 88.6 points a game while holding them to shooting 42.6 percent from the floor. This tenacity on the defensive side of the ball has helped Chicago compile a 38-19 record SU and a 29-19 record ATS. The Bulls are 12-11 ATS at home but a very healthy 17-8 ATS on the road. The results on the total line actually favor the over, especially on the road where 15 of their 25 games have gone over the total. This is to be expected given Chicago’s firepower on the offensive side of the ball as well.
The Boston Celtics continue to struggle with consistency on offense, but they are still one of the top defensive teams in the league. They are currently ranked third in the NBA in points allowed; giving up an average of 90.6 points a game. The Celtics are tied with Chicago for the fourth-best defensive shooting percentage in the league in holding opponents to 42.6 percent from the field. They also have the best defensive percentage from three-point range at 31 percent. Boston is 24-21 SU this season, but under .500 ATS at 20-25. It has been especially draining on the road at 8-13 ATS. The total has gone 20-22-3 in its 45 games overall; 11-12-1 at home and 9-10-2 on the road.
The Bottom Line
There is a direct correlation between solid defense and winning games as the top five teams in the league in points allowed are a combined 143-89 SU, but ATS they are just 122-108-2. From this group, the 76ers and Atlanta Hawks offer a clear edge on the total line with a combined 56 of 92 games staying under the total. The Orlando Magic is the fifth team on this list and their record on the total line is 21-24-2.
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