NBA Teams To Watch

by Will Rogers

NBA Teams To Watch

There’s not that much time left between now and the NBA All-Star Break. But expect some movement in the two conferences. Here’s what to watch for.

East

The top six is currently: Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Brooklyn. The two preseason favorites being fifth and sixth is a little surprising. Milwaukee has dealt with some injuries. Brooklyn hasn’t had its big three of Durant/Irving/Harden together except for a couple of games. Irving can’t play at home as long as he remains unvaccinated. The Nets are 5-19-1 ATS at the Barclays Center. 

Speaking of surprises, how about Cleveland? Oddsmakers have started to catch up though. The Cavs are just 5-12-1 ATS in the last 18 games. Still, I can see them ending up finishing second to Miami. The Cavs, a young team, will care more about seeding. If there’s a team that might drop a few spots, I think it might be Chicago. They’ve got the lowest point differential of the top six and are just +2.3 per 100 possessions, which is below Boston. 

Looking at the next four, who would be involved in the play-in round, you’ve got: Charlotte, Toronto, Boston and Atlanta. The latter two (Boston, Atlanta) have more potential to move up, especially the Celtics, who could even break into the top six. Boston has the East’s second best defensive efficiency rating. It’s interesting how Charlotte is first in the league in points scored and last in the conference in points allowed. Atlanta also has some defensive issues, but recently won eight in a row.

Teams on the outside looking in are: Washington, New York, Indiana, Detroit & Orlando. The bottom two have no shot. Indiana is 2-10 in games decided by three points or less, so luck has not been on their side. Washington has really started to fall off. New York was a top six team last year and has predictably regressed. I think the gap between these teams and the four who currently occupy spots 7-10 will only widen. 

West

The top six is currently: Phoenix, Golden State, Memphis, Utah, Denver and Dallas. Utah has really fallen off. They’ve lost 11 of 13 and key reserve Joe Ingles is out for the year with an injury. So they could be in some trouble. Memphis has been insanely hot, winning 26 of 34. I still think Golden State will overtake Phoenix. Denver and Dallas should remain in the top six. 

That means teams like the Lakers and Clippers seem resigned to play-in round. The Lakers’ championship window appears to be closed. The Clippers have a lot of big comeback wins and no Paul George or Kawhi Leonard. The LA teams aren’t what they used to be. I think Minnesota is better. The 10th spot is really going to be up for grabs. 

Portland currently occupies it, but the numbers suggest San Antonio has been better. I can see 45+ losses for whomever finishes 10th and it will probably be one and done in the play-in round. New Orleans, Sacramento, Houston and Oklahoma City just don’t have it this year. At least you can make money betting on the Thunder, who are 30-17 ATS (2nd best in the league). 

The Spurs have gone Over in 70% of their home games, but go Under 67% of the time on the road. Dallas has gone Under 75% of the time at home. Minnesota has gone Over 73% of the time on the road. 


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