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NBA Season Total Wins Predictions

   by ASA - 10/30/2007

Below are my Over/Under regular season bets for the NBA. In the much improved Eastern Conference the Hawks will be a surprise team that could fight for the 8th and final spot in the playoff chase. Miami didn't improve enough with the addition of Ricky Davis and will slip in the win column. Detroit is a year older and in a tough division with Chicago, Cleveland, Indiana and Milwaukee so their win total will decline in 07-08.

Atlanta Hawks – Over 29.5 wins

Numerous Eastern Conference teams improved in the offseason through high-profile trades and free agency signings. While major acquisitions in Boston and Orlando suggest major improvements for both teams, another year of experience for a bevy of young players will lead to a vast improvement in Atlanta. . Atlanta won 30 games last year and will only improve on total this season.

The Hawks currently own the league’s longest playoff draught at eight years but their frequent trips to the draft lottery has led to a stockpiling of young talent. Expect that talent to start reaching its potential.

Joe Johnson, who at 26 provides the team’s veteran leadership, was selected to the All-Star game after averaging 25 points a game. Johnson is one of the most well-rounded, yet unheralded, players in the league as he can score, distribute and defend at high levels.

Five other Hawks joined Johnson in double figures, led by Josh Smith. The young veteran fills the stat sheet on a nightly basis and will have the extra incentive of a contract extension motivating him throughout the season. Fellow youngsters Marvin Williams, Josh Childress, Al Horford and Acie Law should also provide the Hawks with scoring, versatility, rebounding and defense.

Atlanta won 30 games last year despite keeping the trainer busy all year with numerous injuries. Johnson (25 games), Childress (27), Williams (18), Smith (10) and Zaza Pachulia (10) all missed extended period of times, leaving the team without its full complement of talent and a lack of continuity. Teams often face injuries throughout the season but the Hawks faced them more than usual. Better health, combined with the drafting of Horford and Law, will lead to an increase in the win column. Expect Atlanta to exceed last year’s win total and possibly compete for a playoff berth in the East.

Miami Heat – Under 48.5 wins

The mere presence of Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley intimates a team that should put up a pile of wins and compete for a championship. That will not be the case in Miami this year. Injuries, age and a lack of a supporting cast will keep the Heat from reaching 49 wins this year and could potentially keep them out of the playoffs all together.

O’Neal and Wade, the unquestioned stars of the Heat, combined to miss 73 games last year and there’s nothing to suggest that won’t happen again this year. Wade, who missed 31 games last year, is expected to miss the first two weeks of the season this season with a knee injury. Wade’s reckless forays to the hoop leave him open to hits on a nightly basis so you can expect him to miss even more games as the season progresses.

Shaq is already nursing a quad injury, and while he is expected to play in the season opener, will no doubt incur more injuries during the season. He hasn’t played a full season in his entire career and has missed 75 games in his three years in Miami. And even when Shaq is healthy, he’s far from the same player that dominated in years past.

If either O’Neal or Wade is sidelined, it leaves the team incredibly thin. Riley attempted to restock the roster in the offseason but failed to do so, leaving last year’s aging roster largely in tack. Rotation regulars Alonzo Mourning, Antoine Walker and Jason Williams are well passed their respective primes. And the few young players Miami does have on its roster – Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright and Smush Parker – are nothing more than marginal role players at best.

The Heat won just 44 games and barely made it into the playoffs last year. There’s no reason to expect any kind of the improvement. There were no roster improvements, the already old veterans aged another year, injuries will continue to be a problem and the Eastern Conference improved in the offseason. The championship window has closed on this current crop of talent.

Detroit Pistons – Under 50.5 wins

Detroit’s four straight losses to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals last year may have been the beginning of the end for this group of players. The Pistons won 53 games to secure the top seed in the playoffs but the East improved greatly in the offseason so Detroit will be hard-pressed to match last year’s win total.

The core of the Pistons – Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace – remains in tack but the cracks were starting to show last year. Detroit enjoyed incredible luck from 2004 to 2006 as its five starters combined to miss just 24 games over those two seasons. Last year saw the starters miss 47 games. The Pistons don’t have the depth to win if those injuries continue to mount this year.

The Detroit front line, once the strength of the team, is especially lacking depth. Starters Wallace and Antonio McDyess are both getting into their mid-30s. After that, the Pistons are putting most of their faith into unproven youngsters Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson. Both of these players have great potential but neither has realized that potential yet.

The biggest detriment to Detroit’s success this year will be the improved Eastern Conference. The Pistons have been able to beat up on the weaklings of conference in the past but there aren’t nearly as many cupcakes this year. The bottom of the conference will be improved this year while many of last year’s playoff participants will also be improved.

The fact that Detroit was able to earn the top seed in the postseason with just 53 wins signifies how bad the conference was last year. It won’t be that bad this season. Expect better competition to lead to fewer wins for the Pistons this year.

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