The NCAA Tournament has gotten most of the attention in the past two weeks, but the NBA regular season is winding down and there are some important playoff matchups still to be determined. Because there are some teams with nothing to play for and other teams fighting hard for playoff positioning, this is a tricky time for NBA bettors. Pick your spots carefully when betting on the NBA between now and the end of the regular season.
Doc's Sports has done an NBA Totals Trends report in the past, and we'll be doing it again this season. We'll highlight the Top Five 'Over' teams and the Top Five 'Under' teams in each article. Because of the streaky nature of the NBA, it can be profitable to look at these totals trends and try to jump on a winning streak before the oddsmakers adjust. This report will be offered on a bi-weekly basis throughout the NBA regular season. The statistics listed for this article are for games played between March 14 and March 28.
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Top Five Over Teams (Over Listed First)
1. New Orleans Pelicans (6-2) No other team in the NBA has suffered even close to as many injuries as the New Orleans Pelicans. At this point the Pelicans are sending out a lineup of mismatched players that haven't been with the organization for long at all. Thus far, that has meant almost no defense and plenty of scoring. New Orleans has been an over machine at home so far this season, but the Pelicans have been a great under team on the road.
2. Miami Heat (5-2) The Miami Heat have changed the way they play in recent weeks. While Miami still plays slower than the league average, they are no longer stalling to the same degree they were earlier in the season. Goran Dragic has gotten much more integrated into the Miami offense as of late, and Dragic is at his best in transition. Dwyane Wade has been on fire offensively in the last couple weeks. The Heat are slowly dropping in defensive efficiency rankings.
3. Detroit Pistons (5-3) The over is now 7-2 in the Pistons last nine home games. Detroit is in the mix in the Eastern Conference playoff race. As of right now, Detroit would be the eight seed in the playoffs. The Pistons will have to hold off both the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls. Detroit's schedule is tough in the next week. They have to get through this stretch without falling apart.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-3) Oklahoma City is unquestionably playing their best basketball of the season right now. Russell Westbrook has been absolutely amazing in the past few weeks. Westbrook has been making great decisions with the ball. He's always been one of the best athletes in the game, but his decisions on when to pass and when to be aggressive on offense have gotten much better. After struggling against good teams earlier this year, the Thunder are 7-0 against the spread in their last seven games against a team with a winning record.
5. Memphis Grizzlies (5-3) New Orleans has suffered more injuries than anyone this year, but Memphis is probably second. I've been impressed with the Grizzlies ability to stay competitive despite Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Zach Randolph being injured. The over is 19-6-1 in the Grizzlies last 26 home games. The over is 25-11 in their last 36 games overall.
Top Five Under Teams (Under Listed First)
1. New York Knicks (6-1) The New York Knicks have become an under machine in recent weeks. New York has slowed the tempo down even more with Kurt Rambis at the helm, and the Knicks defense has been slightly better. Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis are still putting up the points, but they are taking a lot more shots to get there. It's been the case year after year, and once again the Knicks franchise is a mess right now.
2. Boston Celtics (6-2) Boston has been up and down defensively this year. Overall, Boston ranks fourth in the league in defensive efficiency, but the Celtics have gone through some stretches where the defense has abandoned them. Lately, Boston is back to playing solid defense. Boston has a couple days off now, but then they travel to Portland and Golden State for two very difficult contests.
3. Philadelphia 76ers (6-2) The 76ers are playing at the fifth-fastest pace of any team in the league, but it doesn't matter when they are shooting the ball as badly as they are right now. Philadelphia is worst in the NBA in offensive efficiency by a mile. I'm not sure how to treat this team down the stretch, though, because there is no incentive for them to want to try to win games.
4. Utah Jazz (6-2) The Utah Jazz play at the slowest pace of any team in the NBA. Utah plays four of their next five games at home. Does that mean Utah will be able to move up in the playoff standings? Well, the Jazz play Golden State, San Antonio, and the Los Angeles Clippers in three of those four home games. What's been the best situation to play the under with Utah? The Jazz are 25-13-1 to the under when playing on one day of rest this year.
5. Phoenix Suns (6-2) The Phoenix Suns are simply playing out the string at this point. Phoenix is a team that I don't see a bright future for unless there are some major changes in the offseason. The under has been cashing lately because the Suns simply aren't scoring enough points to reach elevated totals. This is another team I don't want to try to handicap between now and the end of the season. I'll just stay away.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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