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 - 12/17/2017
The NBA is through its first trimester, and it's clear who the two best teams are. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are heads, shoulders and torsos above everyone else. Both are winning by an average of about 11 points per game. And they also own the two top offenses in the league, with efficiency ratings north of 115. Both teams will be in action on Christmas Day (though not against each other), so NBA fans have a lot to look forward to. Let's see what else the upcoming week has to offer.
The Dallas Mavericks are on fire "in Vegas" right now, as they're 9-2-1 ATS over their last 12 games, which constitutes the hottest point spread record over the past 26 days. The Mavericks, though, have won only five of those 12 games, straight-up, including two collapses at Boston and at San Antonio. And this lack of straight-up success has (so far) kept Dallas under the radar. But it is playing MUCH BETTER than it did to start the season (3-15 SU; 4-13-1 ATS). It will be interesting to see how Dallas reacts to its last game, which was as brutal a defeat as a team could sustain. Dallas was up 96-85 over its rival, San Antonio, with just over 4 minutes left in the game. But the Mavs would never score again. And they committed an inexcusable turnover while attempting to in-bound the ball with 23 seconds left. Had Dallas successfully gotten the ball in-bounds, it would have had the final shot in a tied (96-96) game. But Manu Ginobili played incredible defense to cause the turnover. And Ginobili then broke Dallas' collective hearts with the game-winning lay-up in the final seconds. This week, Rick Carlisle's crew will attempt to bounce back from that heartbreaking defeat with home games vs. Phoenix and Detroit, followed by road tilts at Miami and Atlanta. And, given how well the team has played since Thanksgiving, I wouldn't bet against it. Its game on Monday vs. Phoenix seems like a great opportunity to back the red-hot Mavs. Indeed, since 2013, Dallas is 68-42-5 ATS off a loss when playing an opponent off a win, including 42-23-2 ATS vs. a foe which covered the spread by more than five points in its previous game. With Phoenix off an upset win over Minnesota, as a 12-point underdog, we'll lay the points with Dallas on Monday.
The New Orleans Pelicans have a top-10 rated offense, as their adjusted offensive efficiency is 9th in the league (110.01). Unfortunately, their defense is in the bottom 10, as they rank 22nd in defensive efficiency (110.25). Not surprisingly, then, their games have been sailing 'Over' the total. New Orleans is 19-11 'Over' this season, and has played 10 straight 'Overs' through last Friday's 117-111 loss at Denver. This week, New Orleans will continue its road trip with games at three Southeast Division teams (Washington, Orlando, Miami). Will New Orleans' streak of high-scoring games continue? It's not likely. And the game against Washington, on Tuesday, is the one I would circle to play on the 'Under.' The Wizards have played their last four games 'Under' the total, and 18 of their past 22. Moreover, the last six games played between these teams in DC, and 12 of the last 14 meetings, overall, have gone 'Under' the total. I look for a relatively low-scoring game on Tuesday.
Kawhi Leonard has returned to the San Antonio Spurs lineup, after missing the Spurs' first 27 games due to right quadriceps tendinopathy. The results, so far, have been mixed. For his part, Kawhi has actually been brilliant. In his first two games, he has scored 25 points in 33 minutes, corralled 10 rebounds, and also tallied three blocks and three steals. When one extrapolates these statistics out to an average of 36 minutes per game, his averages are 27.27 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.27 blocks and 3.27 steals. And his PER, which measures efficiency, is 33.72. To put a 33.72 PER into perspective, the current NBA season's best PER belongs to LeBron James, and his PER is 31.66. But even though Kawhi has played at an MVP-caliber level thus far, coach Gregg Popovich is severely limiting his minutes. And this conservatism will continue for a few weeks. The Spurs have failed to cover the point spread in each of their last four games, but are 14-14-2 ATS on the season. This week, San Antone will welcome the Clippers to the Alamo City, before embarking on a Western trip to play Portland, Utah and Sacramento. Of these games, Thursday's game in Salt Lake City is the one where I would play on the Spurs, regardless of Kawhi's minutes restriction. And that's because Utah will have to play that game without rest. The Spurs have been dominant (113-21 SU; 82-50-2 ATS) over the last nine years when playing an unrested opponent, even if the Spurs, themselves, were unrested. Take the Spurs vs. the Jazz.
The Milwaukee Bucks have largely been great since the acquisition of guard Eric Bledsoe from Phoenix on November 7. With Bledsoe in the lineup, Milwaukee won 11 of its first 15 games. But it stumbled last week, and lost all three games. Still, the glass is more than half-full for the Bucks' franchise, as the team is 15-13 this season. And Giannis Antetokounmpo currently ranks as the league's 2nd best player in PER, behind LeBron James (and not including Kawhi Leonard, of course). This week, the Bucks will attempt to snap their losing streak, and will host Cleveland on Tuesday, prior to back-to-back games with Charlotte. I love Milwaukee at home vs. the Cavaliers. Not only will the Bucks be looking to avenge two losses earlier this season to the Cavs, but they also will fall into one of their best point spread situations. Since February 12, 2014, the Bucks have gone 35-10-1 ATS at home off back-to-back losses, including 10-1 ATS if they were playing with more rest than their opponent. Take Milwaukee on Tuesday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my Football, Basketball and Hockey Winners here at BigAl.com. This is an especially great time of the season to join, with the College Bowl games ongoing, and the NFL Playoffs on deck. I'm 37-21 my last 58 Bowl games (including 3-1 this season), and am also on a 20-11 NFL run, so join for a week or month today to get all of my Award-Winning selections.