Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 10
by Al McMordie - 12/26/2016
NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 10
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors played a regular season game for the ages on Christmas. The Warriors were up 14 in the 4th quarter, but Kyrie Irving was brilliant in the game's final minutes to lead a comeback victory for Cleveland. There has never been three straight NBA Finals with the same two combatants. But this could very easily be the first time it happens, as it's hard to make a case for any other team (except for, perhaps, Toronto). With the Christmas holiday in the rear view mirror, let's take a look at the week ahead.
The Cleveland Cavaliers surely were the "Team of the Week." Sunday's thrilling victory over the Golden State Warriors was not only the defending Champs' fifth straight win (currently the league's longest winning streak), but it also finished off a perfect 4-0 ATS week in Vegas. And Cleveland's 9-2 ATS its last 11 games, with one of its two pointspread defeats being the game at Memphis where coach Tyronn Lue rested his starters. If there remains one red flag for the Cavaliers', it's that their defense still isn't championship-worthy. Cleveland's efficiency rating on defense still falls outside the league's Top 10, at #12. And, dating back to 1989, only two of the NBA's 27 Champions (Rockets 1995, Lakers 2001), and just four of the 27 runners-up, had a non-Top 10 defense. This week, the Cavaliers will play two road games on Monday (Pistons) and Saturday (Hornets) against Eastern Conference foes that have Top 10-ranked defenses. The game at Detroit, in particular, looks to be a big letdown spot for Cleveland. Indeed, since 1995, NBA teams have covered just 10 of 30 games on the road following a Christmas day win.
Two weeks ago, the Denver Nuggets lost at Dallas, 112-92, as a 2.5-point favorite, which was its worst pointspread defeat of the season. So, coach Mike Malone immediately made a change to his starting lineup. He inserted Wilson Chandler, and moved Jusuf Nurkic to the bench. Denver responded with a 3-game win streak, and scored 125.3 ppg in those victories. Denver did drop its next two games, but topped 100 points in both games, and has yet to play an 'under' since the lineup change. This week, Denver will play the Clippers, Timberwolves, and 76ers. I believe Denver's run of high-scoring games will be challenged on Monday when it travels to Los Angeles. The Clippers currently are playing without two starters (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin), and have been upset in two straight games with Paul out of action (including last night's nine-point loss to the Lakers). Since Paul's injury, the Clips are averaging just 95 ppg -- 14 points below their offensive average. Additionally, 14 of the last 16 meetings between these two clubs have gone 'under' the total if either (or both) of the teams were playing without rest.
The Portland Trail Blazers have gone from an over-achieving darling last season to a slumping, under-acheiver this year. And things took a turn for the worse last week when All-Star Damian Lillard sprained an ankle in Portland's 20-point home loss to the San Antonio Spurs. That was Portland's fifth straight loss, overall (both SU and ATS), and ninth loss in its last 10 games. Lillard will not play in Monday's home game vs. Toronto, and his status beyond that is unclear. It's true that Portland went 4-3 SU and 5-2 ATS in the seven games Lillard missed last season with plantar fasciitis. But the Blazers were a much better team then than now. So, Portland's off my list of teams to bet on until he returns.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Clippers will be hosting the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Unfortunately, for Doc Rivers' crew, it will be its 3rd game in four nights, as well as its 5th game in seven nights. And NBA home teams, faced with this schedule situation, have covered just 44% (155-199 ATS) since 1990 (and 0-5 ATS this season) against opponents not similarly confronted by such a schedule, provided its opponent lost its previous game. Even worse for Los Angeles: it just blew out the Nuggets, 119-102, six days ago at this same venue. With NBA revenge-minded teams currently at 50-24-1 ATS this season when coming off a loss in their previous game, we'll look toward the underdog Nuggets to cover as a road underdog on Monday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. Don't miss any of my winners here at BigAl.com, as I've been on fire. I'm 64-39 my last 103 in Football, 24-7 my last 31 in Basketball; and 80-44 my last 124 in Hockey, so join for a week, month, 6 months or year today to get all of my award-winning plays.