Repeat after me.
And it’s a weird season – perhaps the weirdest in NBA history.
But maybe, just maybe, there is some money to be made on some early-season games before the inevitable reversion to the mean takes over, or at least until oddsmakers start adjusting their numbers.
Orlando, Cleveland, and Atlanta were all figured to bottom-feeders in a beefed-up Eastern Conference this season, but as of New Year’s Eve they were a combined 10-2 against the spread and making money for bettors savvy enough to stay away from teams that had extended stays in the Florida bubble a few months ago.
The Magic do have a nice early-season win over Miami (which barely had time to catch its breath after getting to the Finals last season), but its other three wins have come against slow starters Washington (twice) and Oklahoma. Still, quite a turnaround for a franchise that was reportedly considering a teardown. Orlando is being led by reclamation project Markelle Fultz, who after a slew of injuries is finally starting to figure out what the NBA is all about. He’s averaging better than 18 points a game. Bettors would be advised to make hay quickly, though, because the Magic’s schedule gets tougher in mid-January.
Cleveland is 3-1 straight up and ATS, also benefitting from a soft early-season schedule. And a bucket of ice water was tossed on the entire team when it somehow managed to find a way to lose at home to the Knicks. Injuries are also starting to take a toll, as first-round pick Isaac Okoro is out with a sprained ankle and vet Kevin Love is down for close to a month with a calf injury. Caveat emptor there, too.
In the West, Sacramento may be at long last ready to make money for its backers. The Kings were 3-1 ATS going into their game against Houston on New Year’s Eve, and appear to have a real keeper in Tyrese Haliburton, who fell to them at No. 12 in the draft. The Kings have young legs and a decent foundation. Hopefully, they can avoid wilting when everyone in the Western Conference starts to get serious.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you know what’s going on with the Raptors, send a text to HC Nick Nurse ASAP. Toronto (playing home games in Tampa due to Covid) is winless SU, winless ATS, and looks like a very different team than the one that was one or two possessions from reaching the Eastern finals last season.