Give or take, we are at the halfway point of the NBA season. That means that it's an excellent time to check in on where we are at from a betting perspective so far. Which teams have been the best at covering spreads? Which ones have struggled? And, most importantly, are the teams likely to continue on the path they have been on? Here are a look at the betting studs and duds of the first half of this season:
Toronto Raptors (25-14-1 ATS): The Raptors are both the most profitable team in the NBA and the most efficient offensively. In a world with Golden State in it the latter is quite remarkable. They are 12-7 ATS away from home, so they are very consistent. They had gone through a rough patch, going 3-7 ATS over 10 games. They have covered three straight since to get back on track, though.
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Houston Rockets (27-16 ATS): James Harden is on his way to MVP honors. That plus the departure of Dwight Howard and his horrible attitude has allowed this team to be one of the bigger surprises out there. We knew they were a solid playoff team, but they sit just a half game out of second place in the West. There is an odd situation when you split down their ATS performance - they are a very profitable 17-6 ATS on the road but a totally useless 10-10 ATS at home.
Boston Celtics (23-16-2 ATS): Boston was not strong early on this year, but they have certainly found their stride lately. They have won 13 of 16 and are now just a game and a half behind the Raptors for second place in the East. That recent stretch of success has really helped bettors, too - they are 11-4-1 ATS over that stretch, so they weren't profitable before this began.
San Antonio Spurs (23-16-1 ATS): This is another team that is red hot lately from a betting perspective - they are 13-4 ATS in their last 17 games. So, like Boston, they were not at all a good bet until the last month or so. Like Toronto they have very similar ATS records home and away, so they are very consistent - which is exactly what you would expect from this franchise. Tim Duncan is gone, but the Spurs are still the Spurs.
New York Knicks (24-18 ATS): The first four teams on this list are elite contenders and strong franchises. And here are the Knicks. One of these things is not like the other. This is a team that is tearing itself apart. There is drama galore, and they have dropped 11 of 13. Bettors know how bad they are, though, so despite all of the losses they are a more respectable 6-7 ATS in that time. It's hard to imagine this team getting any better in the short term at least, so I can't imagine the Knicks being in a similar spot on the next edition of this list.
Portland Trail Blazers (18-25 ATS): The Blazers are narrowly holding on to a playoff spot right now, but given the core of talent they had here and the momentum they had heading into the year their performance (they are also 18-25 straight up) qualifies as a serious disappointment. It's no surprise, then, that they are struggling badly to cover spreads. They are 9-14 ATS away from home, so they have been slightly better at home. Not good, but better.
Orlando Magic (18-24-1 ATS): The Magic have retooled their roster, and so far it isn't paying off in success. They are just 17-26 on the season, so their ATS failings are no big surprise. They are a truly horrible 5-14-1 ATS at home, so that's where you really don't want to bet on them. That means that they are actually a decently profitable 13-10 ATS away from home. You don't see a split that stark that often.
Golden State Warriors (17-23-1 ATS): The Warriors are an extremely good team, and their total humiliation of the Cavs on Monday night is clear proof. As good as they are, though, they aren't good enough for the wildly-enthusiastic bettors. Every line gets bet hard , and it gets inflated - often higher than it should have been. There is recent proof. Between Dec. 30 and Jan. 10 they played six games. They won five and lost the sixth in overtime. All five wins were by at least eight points. Yet they didn't cover a single spread. This team is really going to struggle to produce profits - and the team couldn't possibly care less.
Indiana Pacers (17-23 ATS): The Pacers are about the opposite of the Magic, and this way makes a bit more sense. They are a nicely profitable 12-9 ATS at home but a disastrous 5-14 ATS away from home. So, you can bet them - but only in one state.
L.A. Lakers (19-25-1 ATS): This team started out remarkably strong - they were 8-2 ATS in their first 10 games. Since then they have been disastrous for bettors - 11-23-1 ATS for those who don't like doing math. There is no mystery here. After starting hot reality set in, and they became the team it was obvious they were. When a very public team shows early signs of hope and then struggles they just aren't going to cover spreads.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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