As the NBA regular season winds down, it is important to be careful with your wagers. There are quite a few teams with nothing to play for now, while there are some other teams that are playing to find their way into the playoffs or improve their seeding. How does that change betting on totals? In the long run, the games between teams fighting for a playoff spot have been better 'under' plays, while the games between teams with nothing to play for have been better 'over' plays.
The bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race is really interesting. The Bulls, Pacers, and Heat are all within half a game of each other. The fifth-place Milwaukee Bucks are only two games ahead of the eighth-place Indiana Pacers as well. Portland and Denver are battling it out to see who will get the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
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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 a 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 March 20 through April 4.
Top Five 'Over' Teams (Over Listed First)
1. Charlotte Hornets (8-1) The Charlotte Hornets have gone over the total in eight straight games. In their last eight games, Charlotte ranks third in the NBA in offensive efficiency, behind only the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers. What about on defense? Charlotte ranks fifth worst in the NBA in defensive efficiency in that same period. No wonder they have had a bunch of overs!
2. Denver Nuggets (7-1) The Denver Nuggets are making oddsmakers jobs setting a posted total for their games very difficult. The oddsmakers are putting some very high lines on Denver's games, and yet Denver keeps sailing right over those numbers. Denver's game on Wednesday night against Houston has an enormous posted total of 239 points. Denver is easily the worst defense in the league of late. The Nuggets are allowing opponents to score 1.193 points per game in their last eight contests. They are making the Lakers terrible defense look good! On the other side of the ball, Denver has consistently ranked in the top five in the NBA in offense in the past month.
3. Indiana Pacers (7-2) The Indiana Pacers were 7-2 to the under in the last report, but they have flipped to 7-2 to the over in this period. Their defense has been much worse of late. Indiana has four winnable games left in the regular season, and the Pacers likely can't afford to lose more than one of them if they want to get into the playoffs.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (6-2) The Cleveland Cavs have really struggled down the stretch. Can they flip a switch and be a lot better in the playoffs? Only time will tell. I'm most concerned about their lack of effort on defense. There are enough athletic guys on this team that they shouldn't be consistently ranking among the six or eight worst teams in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
5. Orlando Magic (6-2) Orlando fits perfectly into the category of teams with nothing to play for that could have a lot of high-scoring games at the end of the season. The Magic have several talented youngsters, but it seems like they can't find an identity as a team. I'm going to keep an eye on this team in the offseason. Can they add any veterans to help lead the way?
Top Five 'Under' Teams (Under Listed First)
1. Atlanta Hawks (7-1) The Atlanta Hawks are first on this side of the report because their offense has been terrible of late. Atlanta is dead last in the NBA in the past eight games in terms of efficiency on offense. Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore's injuries have really hampered this team. Dennis Schroeder has been scoring quite a few points, but his shooting numbers haven't been good. This team is skidding into the end of the season, and they could still miss the playoffs if they can't win a couple games to finish the season.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-2) Oklahoma City doesn't have enough good scoring options to consistently win high-scoring games. That's why it has to be encouraging to Thunder fans that the team has stepped up their defensive effort of late. Russell Westbrook is obviously tremendous, but nobody else on this team is consistent enough as a scoring threat. Oklahoma City ranks in the top five in the NBA in defensive efficiency in their last eight games.
3. Sacramento Kings (6-2) Here is a team that really wants the end of the regular season to get here. It is also a team that I have no idea how to bet on their last few games. The Kings are resting players, and I'm not sure if they even want to win games right now. Staying as far away as possible from Kings games seems like a prudent idea to me down the stretch.
4. Dallas Mavericks (6-2) The Dallas Mavericks would be in the playoffs now if it weren't for their terrible start to the season. Dallas is playing good enough to be in the playoffs, but they won't make it. Dallas is 45-30 to the under on the year. The under is 24-13-2 in their 39 home games so far this season. Nerlens Noel has helped this defense immensely since coming over from Philadelphia.
5. Memphis Grizzlies (6-2) The Memphis Grizzlies have slowed their tempo down in a huge way in the last couple weeks. In previous years, Memphis ranked as the slowest-paced team for the entire season. Memphis was actually playing a little faster this year up until the last few weeks. They must have decided to go back their old style. Memphis is playing two possessions per game slower than the second slowest team in the NBA in their last eight contests. They are playing almost four possessions per game slower than their overall season pace average.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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