Most teams are a little more than halfway through the regular season. The 76ers have played only 40 of their 82 games thus far, but the Lakers have already played 46 contests. The next month before the NBA All-Star Game will be very telling. I think we'll know a lot more about which teams are contenders for a playoff spot by then. It is already clear who the four or five teams are that have a real chance at winning the NBA Championship, but who will get in the playoffs is a different story.
Doc's Sports has done an NBA Totals Trends report in the past, and we'll be doing it again this season. This will be a bi-weekly article here on the site. We'll highlight the Top Five 'Over' and the Top Five 'Under' teams of the past couple weeks in each article. Because the NBA season is very long, there can be some impressive streaks inside the season, and catching one of these can help build your bankroll. The statistics for this article are for games from January 5 through January 19.
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Top Five 'Over' Teams (Over Listed First)
1. Denver Nuggets (6-0) The Denver Nuggets offense has been on fire of late. Denver now ranks fourth in the NBA in points per game at 109.6 per contest. They also give up 111.6 points per game. Denver has scored 125 points or more in three of their last four games. They haven't scored less than 99 points in a game since December 12. Nikola Jokic is the story for this team. He leads the team in rebounding, and his passing and ball handling abilities are amazing for a power forward.
2. San Antonio Spurs (6-1) The Spurs haven't been quite up to par defensively of late, but their offense has made up for it and more. San Antonio is looking like a well-oiled machine on offense. Kawhi Leonard's maturation as a scorer is truly amazing. The Spurs are a really tricky team to bet totals on this year. They are playing at a slow pace, but their offense is really efficient and their defense isn't as excellent as normal.
3. Phoenix Suns (5-1) Phoenix has actually slowed their pace down drastically in the last few weeks. They rank in the bottom five in the NBA in tempo during their last six games. Still, their games have been able to get over because their offense has been great and their defense has been terrible. The Suns rank eighth in the NBA in offensive efficiency in their last six games. They rank second to last in defensive efficiency in that span.
4. Boston Celtics (5-2) Boston is another hard team to figure out this year. The over is 12-8 in their home games. The over is 11-11 in their road games. Boston's field goal percentage defense is only 13th best in the NBA, which surprises me. Brad Stevens' teams are usually better than that defensively. Boston's main weakness on the year so far has been their inability to compete on the glass. Remember that when handicapping their games.
5. Milwaukee Bucks (5-2) Milwaukee is a fun team to watch. Primarily because Giannis Antetokounmpo does some things that no one else in the NBA can do. Milwaukee does need to get better on defense, though. The Bucks are allowing 1.133 points per possession on defense in their last seven games. That's why they have only won two of those games. Milwaukee is a playoff contender, but their defense needs to improve.
Top Five 'Under' Teams (Under Listed First)
1. Dallas Mavericks (6-1) It shouldn't be a big surprise to see Dallas at the top of this list. Dallas has actually played at the slowest pace in the NBA in the past seven games. That's a slight surprise because Utah has been the slowest-paced team in the league almost all year. The Mavericks rank in the Bottom 10 in the league in offensive efficiency. Having said that, Dallas isn't as bad as their record, and they are 3-1 against the spread in their last four games.
2. Los Angeles Clippers (6-1) The Clippers are now without both Griffin and Paul. What does that mean for totals? It hurts both their offense and their defense, but I think their defense is hurt even more. I'd be careful playing the under with the Clippers in the near future. The Clippers play 10 of their next 11 games on the road! This is going to be a really big test for the undermanned team.
3. Philadelphia 76ers (5-2) It's been really nice to see Joel Embiid play. Embiid is a star if he stays healthy. The reality is that Philadelphia is building a really nice nucleus of young stars. Ben Simmons will be in action in about a month, and Philadelphia is quickly becoming a much more interesting team for NBA fans to keep an eye on.
4. Chicago Bulls (5-2) The Chicago Bulls are 26th in the NBA in offensive efficiency in their last seven games. There are several scorers on this team, but they haven't yet found a way to work together efficiently. It's clearly a major disappointment for them to be sitting under .500 on the season. The under is 27-15-1 in the Bulls games so far this season.
5. New Orleans Pelicans (5-2) New Orleans is another team that is definitely better than their overall record would indicate. If Anthony Davis stays healthy (a big if), then this team should be one of the top eight teams in the Western Conference. In their last 10 games, New Orleans is first in the NBA in defensive efficiency. They are allowing only 0.977 points per contest during that time.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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