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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 5

   by Al McMordie - 11/23/2015

It's Thanksgiving Week, and fans of the Golden State Warriors have much to be thankful for. After all, their Dubs are 15-0, which equals the best start in NBA history (shared with the 1948-49 Washington Capitols and the 1993-94 Houston Rockets). But before we crown the Warriors seven months in advance of the NBA Finals, it's wise to remember the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks, who started that season 13-0, and had outscored foes by 15.21 ppg. The Mavs finished that season at 60-22 (+7.78 margin of victory), but ended up losing to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. And, 13 years later, nobody remembers those Mavericks. So, unless the Warriors go on to break Chicago's 72-10 season record and/or win the title, their hot start to this season will be but a footnote in history. Let's take a look at the other developing storylines in this young season.

Spread Watch

One could be forgiven if one overlooked the Indiana Pacers at the start of the season. After all, the Pacers were without Paul George last season, and missed the Playoffs after going 38-44. But George has returned with a vengeance, and is playing at an All-Star level. His Player Efficiency Rating is 24.1, which ranks 11th in the NBA among rotation players. Not surprisingly, the Pacers are 8-5 straight-up this season, and 9-1 ATS their last 10 games! They'll play at the Wizards on Tuesday before coming home to take on the Bulls on Friday. And that's a game to circle, as Indiana will be out for blood after losing 96-95 (but covering) at Chicago, on November 16. George had 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists. But his potential game-winner was blocked by Jimmy Butler. The Bulls, under new coach Fred Hoiberg, have underwhelmed "in Vegas," as they're a money-burning 4-8 ATS this season, including 0-3 ATS vs. division rivals.

Total Watch

Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks were terrific on defense, and ranked among the league's Top 4 in defensive efficiency (along with the Warriors, Spurs and Grizzlies). Milwaukee allowed just 97.4 ppg in the regular season, and went 49-39 'Under' the total in the regular season and Playoffs, combined. But this season, the script has flipped, and the Bucks rank dead last in defensive efficiency. Certainly, the departures of Zaza Pachulia and Jared Dudley are a major part of the reason why the Bucks have slipped in a major way. And Milwaukee's problems on the defensive end are largely responsible for its 8-5 record going 'Over' the total, including its last five in a row. This week, the Bucks will play at home against Detroit and Sacramento before Thanksgiving, and then take to the road after the holiday to play Orlando and Charlotte. In particular, the Wednesday night game vs. the Kings is one to watch, as Sacramento also ranks among the league's bottom 10 in defense, and the last five meetings between these two have sailed 'Over' the total.

Injury Watch

LaMarcus Aldridge injured his left ankle in San Antonio's loss at New Orleans, and sat out Saturday's home game vs. Memphis. Aldridge is second on the team in scoring (15.3 ppg), and first in rebounding (9.9 rpg). And his presence is key on a team which has transformed its offense to capitalize on the strengths of Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs now lead the league in post touches. But without Aldridge in the lineup on Saturday, the Grizzlies were able to double-team Leonard, and he struggled in his shooting (5-of-15 FG). Check Aldridge's status prior to Monday's game vs. Phoenix. The Suns are 8-4 ATS their last 12 games, and are 3-1-1 ATS their last five in the Alamo City.

Schedule Watch

When handicapping early season NBA, it's important to bear in mind the vast differences that teams experience in their schedule. Some teams start the season with a heavy dose of home cooking, while others pack their suitcases for long road trips. And some teams play more cupcakes than others. Thus, when evaluating a team's record, one can't just look at the W/L column, or even margin of victory, as those numbers could be skewed by other factors. This year, for example, the Utah Jazz are 6-6 (+2.7 margin), but have played just three of their 12 games at home. Conversely, the Miami Heat are 8-4 (+4.8 margin), but have played nine of their 12 games at home. The Jazz will play their fourth home game, Tuesday, vs. Oklahoma City (+4.5 margin). But the Thunder have played nine of their 14 games at home this season, so we could have some pointspread value with Utah in that game. Likewise, on Wednesday, Miami will travel to Detroit (+0.5 margin). But the Pistons will have played just five of their 14 games, to that point, at home. Once again, the pointspread value might rest with Detroit. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my basketball winners this week, as we've cashed 13 of our last 16 NBA and College Basketball releases.

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