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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 5

   by Al McMordie - 11/15/2017

We're a month into the NBA season, and there have been several surprises in the early-going. In the Eastern Conference, not many would have expected Stan Van Gundy's Pistons to sit in 2nd place, or Tyronn Lue's Cavaliers to be outside the Playoff picture, in 9th. And out West, the New Orleans Pelicans are currently tied for 5th place, while the Oklahoma City Thunder are (like the Cavs) in 9th place. Let's take a look at the upcoming week in the Association.

Spread Watch

The Boston Celtics have been the league's best team, record-wise. Boston is 13-2 straight-up, and 12-2-1 ATS on the year. It owns the league's #1 adjusted defensive efficiency rating (99.13), and the #2 net rating (7.68). To put Boston's early play on the defensive end in context, the San Antonio Spurs had what was considered an historic defense two seasons ago, and their rating was 99.49 (2.62 points better than the 2nd place Hawks). Not only is Boston on pace to outperform that Spurs defense, but it is also 2.71 points better than the 2nd place Lakers. This week, Boston's defense will be put to the test, as it will take on the NBA's #1 offense, Golden State, on Thursday, in a TNT-televised contest. After that, Boston will get a breather, with road games at bottom feeders Atlanta and Dallas. Notwithstanding its record, Boston will be a huge home underdog on Thursday. I love the Warriors in that match-up, as Steve Kerr's crew is also on a red-hot 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS run, and will be playing with 2 days' off. And the Warriors have gone 62-40 ATS with at least two days' of rest. Take Golden State.

Total Watch

The Cleveland Cavaliers have gone 'over' the total in six of their last seven games. Their problem, of course, is defense, as they are a complete mess. Cleveland ranks dead last (30th) in adjusted defensive efficiency with a 113.97 rating, and has given up more than 100 points in each of its last 12 games. It's true that the Cavs also were poor on defense last year (24th, 111.38 rating), but still made the NBA Finals. However, in those NBA Finals, Cleveland gave up 121.6 ppg, and were handily defeated in a short, 5-game series. It seems to me that Cleveland's success in reaching the NBA Finals the past three seasons has led to complacency. The players surely feel that they can exert the requisite defensive intensity in the Playoffs, and that would be enough. Unfortunately, in this year's East -- with the Celtics' ascension -- that may not be the case. This week, Cleveland will finish its four-game road trip with a Wednesday game at Charlotte, before returning home to take on Blake Griffin's Clippers. Cleveland's game against Charlotte is a great candidate to go 'Over' the total. Six of the teams' last seven meetings have sailed 'over,' and the Hornets are currently riding a 5-2 'Over' run, as well.

Injury Watch

The Houston Rockets are playing great basketball, which is saying a lot, given that All-Star Chris Paul sustained an injury in the season opening win at Golden State, and missed the following 14 games. But Houston is 11-4 -- just a half-game behind the Warriors in the standings, but also 1.5 games ahead of rival San Antonio for the all-important 2nd seed in the Conference. And the Rockets will get their point guard back for Thursday's game against the Suns. I don't expect his minutes to be heavy at the start. And coach Mike D'Antoni will also need to determine the best way to integrate Paul into the rotation. Certainly, there are some pundits who feel that Paul's ball-dominant manner doesn't fit with the Rockets' offensive system. I am of a much different mindset, as I believe that point of view ignores the fact that Paul is one of the league's smartest, and most determined players. So, I have no doubt that Paul was able to learn a lot just by sitting on the bench, and observing his new team's style of play. And it will now be a lot easier for him to transition to D'Antoni's system, and excel. This week, Houston will travel to Phoenix and Memphis. Interestingly, Saturday's game at the Grizzlies will be the 4th meeting already this season between the teams. Memphis won the first two, but Houston won the 3rd, last Saturday, 111-96. The Rockets are a poor 1-8 ATS as a road underdog (or PK) at Memphis, while the Grizzlies are an awesome 85-46-1 ATS at home when priced from +2 to -5 points, so consider taking the home team in this game.

Schedule Watch

The Milwaukee Bucks have won and covered their last three games, including big wins against perennial powers San Antonio and Memphis. This week, the Bucks will face Central Division-leading Detroit on Wednesday at the Bradley Center, before traveling to play Dallas on Saturday. I think the Pistons, who are 9-3-1 ATS this season, merit a look on Wednesday in an underdog role. Detroit already defeated Milwaukee, 105-96 earlier in November, and will also be very well-rested, as it hasn't played since Sunday. Historically, the Bucks' franchise has struggled after winning three straight games. Indeed, dating back to 1991, Milwaukee is an awful 69-105 straight-up, and 58-109 ATS if it had won its three previous games, including 42-44 SU and 23-62 ATS at home! Even worse, our 23-62 ATS stat crashes to 7-45 ATS if the Bucks were at home vs. an opponent not playing its 3rd game in four nights! Take Detroit. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my red-hot winners here at BigAl.com. I'm currently on an 86-58 run, including 12-3 in Hoops, 15-6 in Hockey, and 19-8 in College Football. Join for a week, month, 6 months or year today to get all of my award-winning plays.

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