NBA Betting Advice: Hot and Cold Teams Against the Spread 2/27/2023
The trade deadline is now in the rearview mirror, as teams move into the final quarter of the regular season. The Western Conference is as tight as ever, with teams jockeying for valuable playoff positioning. The East has separated a bit more, but there are still just 5 games separating 7th and 12th place. Over the last couple weeks, some teams have exceeded expectations, while others continually fall short.
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The Boston Celtics hold a narrow 0.5 game lead over the Bucks, and have gone 8-2 straight up over their last 10 games, and a sparkling 8-2 Against the Spread (ATS) too. At the deadline, they picked up Mike Muscala from the Thunder, giving them scoring depth behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum and Brown have been playing the best basketball of their careers, averaging 30.4 and 26.5 PPG, respectively. They are the heartbeat of the Celtics franchise, and were instrumental in picking up back-to-back wins over the 76ers last week, allowing them and the Bucks to pull away from the chasing pack. The Celtics have been playing fantastic basketball down the stretch. And as long as they keep getting short spreads, they will keep on covering in their tight wins.
New York Knicks:
The New York Knicks have finally found their stride. They’ve won 5 straight games and have gone 8-2 straight up and ATS over the last 10 games. Their lead over 7th place has grown to 3 games. And while Julius Randle is still the leading scorer, Jalen Brunson has been the difference maker this year. The Knicks picked up Brunson from the Mavericks in the offseason, and he has pushed New York into a playoff spot. His 23.7 PPG with 6.2 Assists against just 2.0 turnovers is exactly what the Knicks needed, and have turned close games into valuable wins; and covers. The Knicks have been less than 6 point favorites in their last 18 games, so when they win, they often cover in the process. This likely won’t be changing anytime soon, as the Knicks face the Nuggets, Clippers, Lakers, and the Celtics twice in the next 10 games, which will be a good test to see how this team adjusts to the top NBA teams. For now, the Knicks have been undervalued by Vegas in the last 10 games, and bettors have taken full advantage of this fact.
The Miami Heat have been ice cold over the last 10 games, especially on the offensive end. They’ve managed to win 4 of their last 10 but have covered the spread just twice over that period. The Heat have always been one of the best defensive units in the league, ranked 4th this season, but can go through icy spells on the offensive end of the floor. They’ve scored 116 or fewer points in each of their last 10 games. And while Jimmy Butler keeps the team afloat, they have no hope of challenging for a championship with this unit. Butler is good, but can’t do it alone, and his isolation heavy playstyle often leaves him taking, and hitting tough shots. Of course, a great defense has kept them in a lot of games they shouldn’t have been in, but this often leads to nail biting wins, and the Heat failed to cover the spread 6 of the last 7 games they’ve closed as the favorite. The Heat are certainly not on the ‘no bet list,’ but it has become increasingly harder to justify taking them in the favorite role.
San Antonio Spurs:
For the second straight edition of this column, the Spurs find themselves in the ‘Cold’ category. Where do I start with this team? First of all, they’ve lost 16 straight games, and have only covered the spread in 2 of those losses. It’s not on the bookies for not trying, as they’ve closed as a 5+ point underdogs in their last 16 games, but they keep getting blown out and it’s not even close. They’ve lost by double digits in 11 of their last 13 games, and there’s no end in sight. This G-league team has been without Devin Vassell for the last few weeks, not that it would have mattered. This season is over, but luckily they come up against the Rockets in back-to-back games next week, so this streak may fall short of the 20 games mark. However, the motivation to win may be hard to find, as securing a solid draft pick is the top priority for this team going forward.
The Sacramento Kings look poised to snap the longest active postseason drought in sports, and it’s thanks to their red hot scoring touch. The average a league high 120.7 PPG, a full 2.5 points more than second in the league. They play at a lightning quick pace, as while De’Aaron Fox’s 25.4 PPG certainly helps, they have 6 players averaging 12+ PPG, ensuring there is never a lack of scoring on the floor. Knowing this, the bookies have tried to adjust their totals, but can’t keep up as the Over has cashed in 7 of the last 10 games for the Kings, despite every total closing at 229 or higher. The Kings won’t mind that their defense is ranked 24th in the league, as they’ve managed to outscore their problems, and win basketball games.
Portland Trail Blazers:
While the Kings are in this column for their high paced, team play, the Trail Blazers are here due to one man. Damian Lillard has been putting on a show, averaging 40.2 PPG over the last 10 games, including a 71-point outburst against the Rockets last night. The Trail Blazers have cashed the Over in 7 of the last 10 games, as they desperately attempt to claw their way into a play-in spot. Despite this, they’ve gone just 5-5 in their last 10 games, and will need to shore things up defensively down the stretch.
The Bulls have cashed the Under in 8 of their last 10 games but have failed to find consistency on the offensive end. The Bulls are loaded with talent, as DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic are all more than capable of running the floor, but they just can’t seem to turn good possessions into points. It hasn’t helped that DeRozan has missed several games in the last few weeks, but the 11th place Bulls don’t have time to wait around. They need to start scoring, and the bookies need to re-evaluate the state of this team. There is nothing wrong with riding this Under trend in Chicago, and I expect the Bulls to keep playing ‘defensive battles’ down the stretch.
The Magic have managed to ensure they don’t get a top 3 draft pick but are also a long shot to make the play-in tournament. They’ve gone 5-5 over the last 10 games, and have actually gone 20-20 over their last 40 games, which bodes well for their future. This consistency has been created thanks to a solid defensive workrate, ensuring the total has stayed Under in 8 of the last 10 games. The Magic know that they won’t be competing for a championship this season, but a talented roster with a good defensive workrate will set them up to compete in the coming seasons. Watch out for the Magic going forward, but keep tailing the Under until the bookies start deflating their totals.
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