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NBA Trends and Changes

   by Bryan Leonard - 02/12/2007

When it comes to sports handicapping, I'm not generally a trends guy. If the Lakers are 10-1 against the spread on Tuesdays, for instance, that doesn't mean anything but random chance. Random chance doesn't help predict what is going to happen NEXT Tuesday. However, if a consistent pattern develops, particularly one with respect to sides and totals, that can also be explained, then that is a trend I take an interest in.

Take the Detroit Pistons. They just spanked the Lakers on national TV. The Pistons have won five straight and are 9-2 with Chris Webber in the starting lineup. Webber had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Webber has been a significant role player and the team is 9-2 straight up and 7-4 against the spread with him. Role players are extremely important. Webber's not being asked to carry the load, as he was in Sacramento and Philadelphia. He couldn't carry the load then because he was too often injured. But he's not being asked to carry this team, just to be one piece on the wheel.

Notice that while beating the Lakers, four players had between 16 and 20 points, Webber being one of them. The Pistons had 28 assists on 35 baskets, building a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Pistons' frontcourt outscored the Lakers', 56-19. Webber had 11 rebounds and Wallace 10. Wallace also had three blocks and three steals. That's another aspect of what Detroit is now doing – playing some defense! Detroit is 7-3 under the total the last 10 games, with only two teams topping 100 on them. Those are two handicapping features that tie into the Pistons' recent run and both trends have tangible reasons behind them.

There is a streak in Memphis, too, with the Grizzlies 25-11-1 over the total the last 37 games. They've completely changed strategy under Grizzlies interim head coach Tony Barone, who has his troops run the court all game. The bad news is they don't play defense. The strategy is also a failure as this team isn't winning and often tires out in the second half. Memphis is currently on a 2-8 SU/3-7 ATS run.

Another trend that has merit is with the young Chicago Bulls. Young teams often play well at home but lousy on the road. Chicago is 20-6 SU/16-10 ATS at home, but 8-16 SU, 6-17 ATS on the road! In short, look to back this team at home, but be very leery of backing them on the road.

Taking that a step further, notice that the Bulls are just 3-10 on the road against the West, but 15-1 at home against the East. That gives you a good idea how much better the NBA West still is to the East. Given the Bulls 20-8 record against the East and the fact that 24 of the remaining games are against conference foes, the Bulls should finish strong and get a Top 4 seed in the East, something to consider if you look at futures' wagering.

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