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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 8

   by Al McMordie - 12/14/2015

Now that the Golden State Warriors have tasted defeat, perhaps the spotlight will finally shine on some other teams. One candidate, of course, is the San Antonio Spurs. And even though the Spurs sit four games behind Golden State in the standings, most would be surprised to learn that the two teams are very close in the two most important statistical measures. This season, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by 13.1 ppg, while San Antonio is less than a point behind, at +12.2. And the Warriors' Net Rating (based on points per 100 possessions) of +14.8 is only 2.1 points ahead of San Antonio's Net Rating of +12.7. Circle January 25 on your calendar, as that's the date the league's two best teams will square off for the first time. This week, however, does offer some interesting situations, so let's take a look.

Spread Watch

The Chicago Bulls enter the week as the NBA's worst team, against the spread. The Bulls have only covered seven of their 22 games, and are also the only team to have not covered the spread in two straight games this season! This week, the Bulls will play home games against the 76ers, Grizzlies and Pistons, before finishing up their week on Saturday at the Knicks. Given that the Bulls have yet to cover back-to-back games, should they cover against the Sixers or Grizzlies, then consider going against Chicago in their next game (against the Grizzlies or the Pistons, respectively). Indeed, the game against the Pistons, in particular, looks like a potential pitfall for the Bulls. Chicago is a poor 3-9 ATS its last 12 meetings against Detroit, and it's also 0-7 ATS since 2013 vs. Detroit, provided Chicago covered the spread in its previous game.

Total Watch

The Atlanta Hawks have played their last six games 'Under' the total. And they've failed to score more than 100 points in their last five games. Certainly, their most recent game -- Saturday vs. San Antonio -- was their worst. Atlanta ended the first half with just 25 points, which was the lowest amount of points scored in any half by an NBA team this season. The Hawks shot just 23% from the field in that half, but not all of Atlanta's missed shots could be attributed to the Spurs' #1-rated defense. I was at the game, and the Hawks just looked completely out of rhythm. This week, Atlanta will play home games against Miami and Philly on Monday and Wednesday, before traveling to Boston and Orlando for games on Friday and Sunday. The Heat have played 17 of their last 21 'Under' the total, while the 76ers are on a 12-5 'Under' run. Additionally, Atlanta and Miami have gone 'Under' the total in their last three meetings, and 10 of their last 14, while Atlanta and Philly have played five straight 'Unders.' It would be no surprise if the Hawks stretched their 'Under' streak to eight games.

Injury Watch

On Saturday, it was announced that the Washington Wizards' guard, Bradley Beal, will miss two weeks, at a minimum, for a stress reaction in his lower right fibula. Beal has been an important piece for Washington this season, as he's averaging a career-best 19.8 ppg. But, interestingly, Washington has gone 4-1 ATS this season without Beal on the court, compared to 7-10 ATS with him in the lineup. One reason might relate to the fact that Beal has been a slightly inefficient scorer this season. His Player Efficiency Rating of 14.77 is below average, as is his RPM of -1.46 (#244 of 419). This week, Washington will travel to Memphis and San Antonio, prior to coming home to play Charlotte on Saturday. Because the oddsmakers may assign more value to Beal than he's actually worth, there could be value in playing on Washington in the short-term. And especially, tonight, against Memphis. Indeed, the Grizzlies are a bit over-rated by my numbers. Yes, it's true that Memphis has a winning record, at 13-12. But it's been outscored by 5.2 ppg, and such a scoring margin would equate to an expected record of 7-18. Washington has also covered four of the last five meetings vs. the Grizzlies.

Schedule Watch

On Friday, the San Antonio Spurs will welcome Chris Paul & Co. to the AT&T Center. Though the Spurs are loath to attach much significance to a regular season game, it's safe to say that this one will hold extra meaning for the Silver and Black. After all, the Clippers ended the Spurs' season last May with a dramatic Game 7 victory at Staples Center. The two teams were evenly matched last year, but it's San Antonio which has played much better this season. Indeed, only the Warriors have a better margin of victory than San Antonio. And the Spurs' Defensive Rating of 83.7 is the best such number since the ABA/NBA merger 39 years ago! The Spurs are a perfect 12-0 at home this season, and 8-4 ATS in those games. Even better: dating back to last season, San Antonio is 26-1 straight-up and 20-7 ATS its last 27 regular season home games, including a perfect 7-0 ATS when favored by eight points or less. Good luck, as always, this week. And don't miss any of my Basketball winners, as I'm 31-14 my last 45 Basketball selections!

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