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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 7

   by Al McMordie - 12/05/2016

Last season, we witnessed history, as the Golden State Warriors sprinted out to a 24-0 start, en route to 73 wins, the most ever for a regular season. Now, this season, we're witnessing, perhaps, another historical feat, as Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double (28 ppg, 17 rpg, 12 apg). And he's the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1963-64 to average a triple-double this late into a season. Let's take a look around the NBA to see what else has been going on, and how the upcoming week looks.

Spread Watch

After two great regular seasons (though perhaps over-achieving ones) under coach Mike Budenholzer, and a decent start to a third, the Atlanta Hawks have suddenly fallen off a cliff. The Hawks opened the 2016-17 campaign with a 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS record, and they were outscoring foes by 9.63 ppg, which ranked 3rd behind the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. But since then, the Hawks have won just once in 10 games (2-8 ATS), and have lost by an average of 15 ppg. And their last two defeats were stunning, as they fell 121-85, as a 1.5-point home favorite vs. Detroit, and 128-84, as an 8.5-point road underdog against Toronto. In this 10-game stretch (since November 18), Atlanta has the worst Offensive Efficiency (91.8) and ninth-worst defense in the league. This week, Atlanta will host the OKC Thunder on Monday, and Miami on Wednesday, before traveling to Milwaukee on Friday. I actually love the Hawks to get off the schneid on Monday vs. Russell Westbrook & Co., as they'll be playing with rest vs. an unrested foe. And over the past 27 seasons, rested NBA teams have covered 63% of the time off a loss by 40+ points, if they're not getting 7+ points in the current game.

Totals Watch

When a new coach takes over a team, that team will often take on that new coach's identity. And one of the easiest ways to take advantage is with over/unders. A great example of this has been coach Scott Skiles' teams (Suns, Bulls, Bucks, Magic). They would be great 'under' bets, especially early in the season, as he forged his defensive style. Similarly, Frank Vogel has the Magic playing exceptional defense in this, his first season, at the helm in Orlando. Last season, Vogel's Indiana Pacers ranked #3 in Defensive Efficiency, and played at the ninth-slowest pace. They went 'under' in 51 of their 89 games (57.3%). This season, Vogel's Magic currently rank 4th in Defensive Efficiency (104.11), and are surrendering just 97.0 ppg. They're also playing at the 6th slowest pace in the league. Not surprisingly, 16 of their 21 games have gone 'under' the total, including their last four, and 10 of their last 11. This week, the Magic will alternate road and home games vs. the Wizards, Celtics, Hornets and Nuggets. Their game on Tuesday, at Washington, seems like the best bet of the four to go 'under,' as both previous meetings this season between these two division rivals went 'under,' as well as seven of the last nine. Additionally, 56.3% of division games have gone 'under' this season.

Injury Watch

The Los Angeles Lakers got off to a surprisingly strong start under 1st year coach, Luke Walton. They opened with a 7-5 record before hosting the San Antonio Spurs on November 18. Shortly before game-time, it was announced that then-leading scorer D'Angelo Russell wouldn't play due to a sore left knee. Russell attempted to play in LA's next game, Nov. 20, vs. Chicago, but scored just eight points, on 3-for-11 shooting. After that game, it was announced Russell would miss at least two more weeks following a platelet-rich plasma injection. Over this stretch of 10 games without Russell fully healthy, the Lakers have gone 3-7 SU and ATS. Even worse: Nick Young (ankle), Larry Nance, Jr. (knee) and Jose Calderon (hamstring) are also now out of action. The Lakers don't have enough quality depth to sustain injuries to key players, so they're off my list of teams to play on until Russell and Young get back on the court later this month.

Schedule Watch

The Toronto Raptors are currently playing the best basketball in the league. After they lost to the Clippers on November 21, which dropped their record to 8-6, the Raptors have gone 6-0 SU and ATS, with an average margin of victory (MOV) of 23 ppg. Of course, this hot stretch has coincided with a relatively soft schedule, as the Raptors were favored by more than eight points in four of those six games. Still, they covered the spread by an average of 15.33 ppg, and they currently rank #3 in the league in MOV (+8.70) and Efficiency Rating (+9.32). However, the fact that Toronto has gone 0-4 straight-up (though 2-1-1 ATS) in its four games vs. elite teams (Cavaliers (twice), Warriors, Clippers) is not lost on this author. Thus, Toronto's upcoming game on Monday night, at home, vs. the Cavaliers is perhaps the most important game in the Eastern Conference yet this season. If Toronto is going to be able to get past the Cavaliers in the Playoffs next May, then it needs to set a positive tone with at least one victory in this regular season. I think it will defeat Cleveland, as it falls into a 155-93 ATS 'momentum' system of mine which plays on certain teams off three SU/ATS wins, in which it scored 105+ points in each game, as well as a 117-70 ATS system, which plays on certain .600 (or better) teams in a revenge role. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my red-hot winners here at BigAl.com. Join for a week, month, 6 months or year today to get all of my award-winning selections.

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