While many have focused on the negatives, there have been some really nice surprises early in the NBA season as well. Charlotte sitting at 15-12 thus far is a big surprise to me. The Hornets have been a laughing stock in the past few seasons. How about the Orlando Magic at 16-12? Scott Skiles continues to do a great job with this young team. Detroit is at 17-12 on the year as well. Most expected them to be bad after Greg Monroe moved to Milwaukee. All three of these teams are the in the weaker Eastern Conference, but they have still outperformed expectations by a wide margin in the first couple months.
Doc's Sports has done an NBA ATS Hot and Cold report in the past, and we'll be doing it again this year. We'll highlight the Top 5 hot teams and the Bottom 5 cold teams in each article. This will allow people to see which teams are streaking and which teams are slumping. In a league that is unquestionably a momentum-driven league, that can be extremely important. This report will be offered on a bi-weekly basis throughout the NBA regular season. The statistics listed for this article are for all games played December 9 through December 22.
Top Five Hot Teams
1. Cleveland Cavs (4-0 ATS) In the last report I predicted a big run from Cleveland, and they haven't failed to cover in a game since. The Cavs have had the lightest schedule in the league in the past couple weeks, but they have taken care of business when they have been on the court. A lot of rest has been helpful for a Cavs team that has been banged up quite a bit early in the season. Cleveland is winning and covering now because they have really improved on the defensive end.
2. San Antonio Spurs (6-1 ATS) The San Antonio Spurs have been amazing this year. Everyone knew the Spurs were going to be very good, so it comes as a huge surprise that the Spurs are 20-9 ATS on the season. They have been covering some big numbers consistently. The Spurs have yet to lose at home, and they are 12-4 ATS on their home floor. They have a big game at Houston on Christmas.
3. Detroit Pistons (5-2 ATS) The Detroit Pistons are third in the NBA in offensive rebounding, and that has been a big surprise. Who would have thought they would be this good on the glass without Monroe? Andre Drummond has been an absolute beast on the boards this year. Drummond is averaging a ridiculous 16.2 rebounds per game. Drummond has been exceptional all year, and he's definitely the biggest reason for this team's success. Stan Van Gundy deserves a lot of credit for doing a good job with this young team.
4. New York Knicks (5-2 ATS) While the Knicks are still just below .500, they have definitely been better than expected as well. New York has gotten a massive boost from Kristaps Porzingis bursting onto the scene in a way no one could have expected. The Knicks have been at their best away from Madison Square Garden. New York is 10-4 ATS on the road. Four of the team's next five contests are on the road.
5. Houston Rockets (5-2 ATS) Houston is an extremely tough team to get a read on this year. The Rockets have been one of the biggest underachievers in the league. They are on the hot side of the report this time, but I still can't trust this team. They have shown glimpses earlier in the season and then played very poorly again. If Houston can play two good games in a row against San Antonio on Christmas and then at New Orleans the following day, I might change my mind.
Top Five Cold Teams
1. Philadelphia 76ers (0-8 ATS) Wow! Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for the 76ers, they have taken another turn south. Philadelphia is now 1-29 on the season. That's almost unfathomable. We have seen some really bad teams in recent years in the NBA, but Philadelphia is going to have to get hot to not set some records here. Their next six games are on the road.
2. Phoenix Suns (2-6 ATS) Here's another team that has been a big disappointment this year. Phoenix ranks dead last in the NBA in field goal percentage defense. The Suns are averaging 103.9 points per game, but they can't get stops when they need them the most. This team seems to have some chemistry problems. Next week they play Cleveland, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City in the span of just four nights!
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-6 ATS) Karl-Anthony Towns has been as good as advertised. It's not him that's the problem here. Minnesota has some nice pieces, but it doesn't seem like the team fits together as well as they should. This is continually a young team that shows promise, but doesn't improve in any significant way. Ricky Rubio is a great passer, but shooting 32.2 percent from the floor is embarrassing.
4. Golden State Warriors (1-2-1 ATS) Golden State was bound to fall to this side of the report at some point. Still, 1-2-1 is hardly a terrible run. Public perception of the Warriors is so high though, that they could struggle to cover games for a long period of time now. Golden State is a great team, but they are going to hit a rough patch of sorts at some time this year.
5. New Orleans Pelicans (3-5 ATS) Here's a team that makes zero sense to me. New Orleans has beaten some of the best in the league, but they have absolutely no consistency. That's not a team I like to back at all. I want to know what I'll get from a team, and I have no clue with New Orleans. They are certainly a better team than they have shown in the early going, but I'm not jumping to back them now either. Was getting rid of Monty Williams really a good idea?
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