The first three-plus weeks of the NBA season has gone largely to form. The Cavaliers, Hawks and Raptors lead the way in the Eastern Conference, while out West the Clippers (10-1)-off to the best start in franchise history-are running just ahead of the Warriors (8-2) and Spurs (8-3).
While that's all well and good, bettors have a more burning question: how are teams doing against the spread? So far this NBA season, Tinsel Town has provided gamblers with the mother lode. Through Tuesday's action, the two Los Angeles teams were a combined 17-5-1 versus the number. While times are good in La La Land, a couple of Eastern Conference team have been the absolute bane of bettors during the season's opening week.
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This is the first installment of Doc's Sports bi-weekly look at the best and worst bets in the NBA. Let's get started.
Best NBA Bets
Los Angeles Clippers (10-1 SU, 9-2 ATS; ATS Streak: 2W)
The Clippers, who already have three wins by 30 points or more, have overwhelmed opponents this season. They've allowed a league-low 92.2 ppg while sporting an NBA-best +16.6 scoring differential. That last number is remarkable as it's nearly double that of any other team.
Interestingly, the Clippers two ATS losses this season both came against Oklahoma City. The Thunder beat the Clippers 85-83 as a seven-point road underdog back on Nov. 2, then L.A. traveled to OKC last Friday and failed to cover the 5.0-point spread in a 110-108 straight up victory.
After several seasons of underachieving, it appears the Clippers cast of stars is finally reading from the same script. Los Angeles has been running teams out of the building on a consistent basis this season. Of course, they haven't faced the Warriors or Spurs yet this season, either. It certainly appears to be a three-horse race out West this year.
Next up for the Clippers is home game versus Memphis on Wednesday, at Sacramento on Saturday and home against the Bulls on Sunday.
Los Angeles Lakers (7-5 SU, 8-3-1 ATS; ATS Streak: 1P)
The upstart Lakers continued their good early-season run on Tuesday with a 125-118 win over the Nets as seven-point home favorites. Driving the bus for Los Angeles has been recent lottery picks D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. The former leads the Lakers in both scoring and assists (16.8 PPG, 4.7 APG), while the latter has contributed a team-high 8.7 RPG and 14.2 PPG on 55.1 percent shooting from the floor.
First-year coach Luke Walton has made huge strides with this young club. With youth usually comes inconsistency, but at least bettors know the Lakers are back to being a competitive NBA club.
Los Angeles is home this week to play San Antonio on Friday and the Bulls on Sunday.
Other hot NBA bets: Brooklyn Nets (4-6 SU, 7-3 ATS; ATS Streak: 1L), Atlanta Hawks (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS; ATS Streak: 1L), Toronto Raptors (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS; ATS Streak: 3W).
Worst NBA Bets
Orlando Magic (4-7 SU, 3-8 ATS; ATS Streak: 1L)
It's been a rough start in Orlando for former Pacers coach Frank Vogel. With not much talent to speak of, the Magic are getting beat by an average of 10 points a game (102.6 to 92.6) this season. They are also the only team in the league to score fewer than 80 points multiple times this season following an ugly 88-69 loss to Vogel's former team on Monday.
Things don't figure to get better any time soon for the Magic. Their leading scorer is Evan Fournier (17.4 ppg), who prior to this year averaged just 24 minutes of playing time; the top assist man is Elfrid Payton, a second-year pro who played small-time college basketball (Louisiana-Lafayette); and the leading rebounder is Nikola Vucevic (10.5 rpg), a solid pro but certainly no All Star.
All of that lends little reason for optimism from bettors, even with a good coach like Vogel at the helm. Orlando has a good slate to work with this week, however, as they host the bottom two teams in the West: New Orleans on Friday and the Mavericks on Sunday. If they can't make hay with those matchups, it's likely best to stay far away from the Magic until further notice.
Other cold NBA bets: Indiana Pacers (5-6 SU, 3-8 ATS; ATS Streak: 1W), Minnesota Timberwolves (3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS; ATS Streak: 1W), Miami Heat (2-7 SU, 3-6 ATS; ATS Streak: 1W), Dallas Mavericks (2-7 SU, 3-6 ATS; ATS Streak: 2L).
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