The NBA feels top-heavy this year. I think there are only four or five teams that have a real chance at winning the NBA title. There also aren't a lot of teams that are in the terrible category this year. There is a big heap in the middle of the pack. You can expect to see quite a battle for the last couple playoff spots later this year. Having said that, it doesn't feel like a year where those teams who sneak into the playoffs will give the top seeds much trouble at all.
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 Dec. 20 through Jan. 4.
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Top Five 'Over' Teams (Over Listed First)
1. Boston Celtics (8-0) The Boston Celtics have played eight straight games that have gone over the posted total. Boston is usually known as a strong defensive team, but they rank in the Bottom 5 defenses in terms of efficiency during their last eight games. How did they win six of the eight? Boston ranks third in the NBA in offensive efficiency during that period as well. Isaiah Thomas is averaging a whopping 27.8 points per game. The Celtics haven't played their best basketball yet, but this team could be dangerous.
2. Indiana Pacers (6-1) In the Pacers last eight games, only one of them has finished below 211 points. Indiana has picked up their tempo as the season has gone along. The Pacers main weakness on defense is giving up too many second-chance points, so keep that in mind when handicapping their games. Indiana has a really light schedule in the next couple weeks . The Pacers play only five games in the next two weeks.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (6-2) For the year as a whole, Memphis ranks 24th in the NBA in offensive efficiency. On the other hand, if you look at only the last nine games, the Grizzlies are No. 9 in the league in offensive efficiency. Memphis is 19th in defensive efficiency in their last nine games, while they are third in the league on the season overall. I think we can find value looking for low-scoring games with Memphis soon, because I don't think this trend will continue much longer.
4. Charlotte Hornets (6-2) In the Hornets last eight games, they have scored 118 points or more on four separate occasions. Charlotte is 22-14 to the over on the season overall. The Hornets have gotten some really good minutes out of Marco Bellinelli this year. He is shooting 44.9 percent from long distance. Cody Zeller had been improving as well, but he is out with a concussion right now.
5. Houston Rockets (6-2) One of the better calls I've had in these articles has been my suggestion to look for Rockets games to go over the posted total moving forward after they started the year with a bunch of unders. Houston is so good on offense in Mike D'Antoni's system. The Rockets are averaging almost 115 points per game. Houston has scored 123 points or more in five of their last seven contests!
Top Five 'Under' Teams (Under Listed First)
1. Brooklyn Nets (6-1) Two things have happened to keep Brooklyn games under the posted total consistently of late. First, the numbers simply got too high. The oddsmakers adjusted upward based on the Nets faster tempo, and they ended up moving them too much upward. Second, the Nets have the single worst offensive efficiency in the NBA in the past seven games. It will be interesting to see what this team does the rest of the way. They have nothing to play for, but it is hard to say whether that helps the under or the over. Stay tuned.
2. Utah Jazz (6-2) The Jazz are playing at the second slowest pace of any team in the NBA so far this season. Utah is first in the NBA in points allowed per game this year at 195.1 per contest. They are second in the league in field goal percentage defense. On the season, they have 18 overs and 18 unders. I think this is a team that finishes with more games that fall under the posted total.
3. New Orleans Pelicans (5-2) Who has the best defensive efficiency in the NBA in the past seven games? It certainly stunned me to see that it is the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans is definitely better than their record, and I think they are likely to work their way back into the playoffs as long as Anthony Davis stays healthy. That seems to always be the big question mark with this team.
4. Philadelphia 76ers (4-2) Philadelphia is a really difficult team to handicap. They are clearly a bad team who can't score consistently. On the other hand, they are playing slower this year, and they aren't terrible on defense. With nothing to play for and a lot of injury question marks, I see Philadelphia being a good team to stay away from altogether.
5. Atlanta Hawks (4-2-1) The biggest difference between last year's Atlanta Hawks team and this year's version is their offense. This year's team isn't nearly as efficient on offense. Atlanta had been playing quickly this year, but they have slowed things down in recent games. For the season as a whole, Atlanta ranks eighth in the NBA in pace. In the past seven games, Atlanta has dropped all the way down to No. 21 in tempo. The slower pace is the main reason for their games staying under the posted total.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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