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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 17

   by Al McMordie - 02/14/2016

With the 65th edition of the NBA All-Star Game in the books, the focus now turns toward the trade deadline this Thursday. Certainly, there have been several surprises thus far. Both Portland and Dallas were expected to miss the Playoffs, yet each has a .500 (or better) record at this juncture. Likewise, not many preseason predictions had the Boston Celtics in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. But Brad Stevens has guided his team to a 32-23 record. Thus, GM Danny Ainge is now rumored to be aggressively looking to bolster his club's roster, in an attempt to be able to compete with the Cavaliers come playoff time. The NBA will resume its regular season on Thursday, so let's find some winners.

Spread Watch

The New Orleans Pelicans, under first-year head coach Alvin Gentry, have been a major disappointment. Injuries, of course, have played a part. But they've also had trouble adjusting to Gentry's new offensive system. For the season, they're 20-33 straight-up and 22-31 ATS, including 2-6 ATS over their last eight games. That, in and of itself, isn't earth-shattering. But what's extremely interesting about New Orleans' season is what also happens when it covers (or doesn't cover) the pointspread. In games that it cashes "in Vegas," New Orleans averages 110.59 ppg, and those games have gone "Over" the total 15-6-1. But in games it loses ATS, New Orleans has averaged a paltry 96.09 ppg, and has gone "Under" 21-9-1. The relationship between ATS wins/losses and overs/unders is the strongest of any team this season. Of course, there are several ways to take advantage of this. If one liked the Pelicans in a game, one could parlay it with the "Over" (or if one wanted to bet against the Pelicans, one could parlay it with the "Under"). Or, one could do both in the same game (e.g., bet a Pelicans/Over parlay and also a parlay of their opponent and the "Under"). If one engaged in this strategy of making two parlays in each game, one would need to cash at least five of nine games (or five of 18 parlays) to break even. Given the strong correlation between New Orleans' offensive production, ATS wins/losses and Overs/Unders, I think it's a sensible strategy.

Totals Watch

The Memphis Grizzles have gone "Over" the total in three straight, and 13 of their last 15 games. Going forward, the one thing to watch will be Memphis' pace of play (currently ranked #27) now that center Marc Gasol has been lost to injury. Coach Dave Joerger has expressed that he does want to increase his team's pace, and get more points in transition. That makes sense, as Gasol's absence will hurt Memphis' half-court offensive sets (as well as its defense). This week, Memphis will play the Timberwolves at home, and the Raptors on the road. The game against Minnesota, in particular, looks like a great game to take "Over" the total as Minny has sailed above the number in 9-1-2 its last 12 games. And the last three meetings between these two teams have also gone "Over" the total.

Injury Watch

The Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler injured his knee 10 days ago against Denver, and will miss upwards of a month. Without their star on the court, the Bulls have lost their last four games SU and ATS (including the game vs. the Nuggets, in which Butler was injured). It likely will get worse before it gets better, as Chicago's first two opponents this week (Cleveland, Toronto) will be out not only to avenge home losses to Chicago last month, but two losses, overall, to the Bulls this season. The Cavaliers, especially, should be fired up, as the Bulls spoiled coach Tyronn Lue's debut -- on National TV, no less -- in a 96-83 defeat. I look for Cleveland to roast Chicago.

Schedule Watch

This week, due to a re-scheduling of the Wizards/Pistons game, Washington will play three games in three nights. One may think that such an event is quite rare, but it actually has happened much more often than one would think. Indeed, from the 1960s through the 1980s, it was fairly commonplace. And, then, in the two strike seasons (1999, 2012), it occurred an awful lot. The knee-jerk reaction might be to bet against teams in such a scheduling spot. But they've gone 52-44-1 ATS since 1990 (against teams not playing their third game in three nights), and have done their best work away from home (29-16 ATS). However, I believe the real way to tackle this situation is to play on such teams in the first game of this three-game set. They know that they're embarking on a grueling schedule, and the reaction, it seems, has been to try hard to get the first game. Since 1990, our teams are 62-43-2 ATS in the first game (against opponents not embarking on a similar schedule), including 41-17-1 ATS at home. With these numbers in mind, consider playing on the Wizards in their home game against Utah on Thursday, as well as on the road, at Miami, on Saturday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my Basketball Winners here at BigAl.com, as I'm red-hot in hoops (108-65 last 173). Or, better yet, join for a week or month to get all of my award-winning plays.

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