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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 11

   by Al McMordie - 12/25/2017

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Last year, at Christmas, there were five NBA teams with a win percentage better than .700: Golden State, San Antonio Cleveland, Toronto and Houston. This season, the top six teams include those five, along with up-and-comer Boston. Interestingly, even though the NBA has historically featured much less change at the top from year-to year compared to, say, the NFL and MLB, its fan base has grown in recent years at a better pace than the other leagues. The Christmas Day games have always marked the "unofficial start" to the NBA season, so let's look at the Holiday week ahead.

Spread Watch

The Orlando Magic are in a massive tailspin. After starting the season with an 8-4 straight-up and 7-5 ATS record, Frank Vogel's men have gone 3-19 SU and 5-16-1 ATS. And the news got worse on Saturday when the Magic lost their eighth straight game, a 130-103 blowout defeat in Washington. Center Nikola Vucevic fractured the first metacarpal in his left hand, and will be sidelined indefinitely. Vucevic is averaging 17.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while hitting a career-best 1.5 three-pointers per game. This week, the Magic will play two games vs. the Miami Heat, on Tuesday and Saturday, sandwiched around a home game vs. Detroit on Thursday. The fact that Orlando will play Tuesday's road game at Miami with two days' of rest is enough for me to pull the trigger on the downward-spiraling team. And that's because road underdogs off six straight losses, and three straight ATS losses, have covered 64.6% since 1990 when they had the two previous days off. Moreover, the Magic have won and covered their last four meetings with their Sunshine State rival -- and they were underdogs in each of those four games. Take Orlando + the points on Tuesday.

Totals Watch

The Milwaukee Bucks traded for Eric Bledsoe on November 7. Not surprisingly, there was an adjustment period over the next two weeks where the Bucks' offense sputtered. In Bledsoe's first six games, the offense averaged just 94.6 ppg, and reached the 100-point mark just once. But after that two week-period, Milwaukee's offense has been in overdrive. It has now scored 100+ points in 15 straight games, and is averaging 109.1 ppg during this stretch. And this 15-game streak of scoring 100+ points in the 3rd longest active streak, behind only Cleveland (26 games) and Houston (24 games). For the season, the Bucks are now ranked 7th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Not surprisingly, 14 of Milwaukee's last 15 games have sailed 'Over' the total, including the last 11 in a row. This week, the Bucks will play a tough schedule, with home games vs. Chicago and Minnesota, before a road tilt at Oklahoma City. Will the high-scoring games continue? Friday's game vs. the Thunder will surely be a tough test for the Bucks' offense. OKC is giving up just 99.7 ppg, and held the Bucks to just 91 points in the season's first meeting, back on Halloween. OKC has gone 'Under' the total in 20 of its 33 games. And eight of the last 10 meetings between these two franchises have gone 'Under' (including the last four in a row). I look for a low-scoring game on Friday.

Injury Watch

The Phoenix Suns will welcome back their best player, Devin Booker, on Tuesday, when they host the Memphis Grizzlies. Booker has been sidelined for the last 20 days with a strained left adductor muscle, which he injured in Phoenix's 126-113 loss at Toronto. Coach Jay Triano hopes to not have to limit Booker's minutes, but acknowledged that, "If he's starting to look tired, [they'll] get him out." Since Booker's injury, Phoenix has gone 3-6 straight-up, but 5-4 ATS. And the Suns are 12-23 SU and 17-18 ATS this season. Still, there's no doubt that the Suns have missed Booker, who is averaging 24.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. They averaged 107.6 ppg before his injury, but have scored just 100.4 ppg since. And they never scored 110 points in any of the nine games (compared to 13 of 26 games prior to the injury). So, Phoenix's Over/Under performance has surely been impacted by his absence, as Phoenix was 16-10 'Over' the total with Booker, but 2-7 'Over' the total without him. This week, the Suns will play home games vs. Memphis (Tuesday) and Philadelphia (Sunday), with a road game at Sacramento on Friday. I think the Suns might struggle a little bit in Booker's first game back, as it's sometimes difficult for teams to initially integrate such a big piece after an extended absence. Indeed, we just saw that happen in San Antonio, where the Spurs lost their first two games with Kawhi Leonard back in the line-up. So, Tuesday's game vs. Memphis will be a difficult one for the Suns. And it also doesn't help matters that Phoenix just defeated the Grizzlies, 97-95, last Thursday. Phoenix is a poor 3-14 SU and 5-12 ATS when playing an opponent it defeated earlier in the season. Take Memphis on Tuesday.

Schedule Watch

The Oklahoma City Thunder are starting to play much better basketball. After their upset loss at Orlando, on November 29, Billy Donovan's men were 8-12 SU. But they've gone 10-3 since, and currently have won their last four games. This week, the Thunder have a home-heavy schedule, as they'll play Houston, Toronto, Milwaukee and Dallas -- all at home in the friendly confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Of these four games, the one I am circling to play on the Thunder is Sunday's game vs. the Mavericks. And that's because OKC was upset by Dallas, 97-81, as a 6-point favorite back on November 25. However, the Thunder are an awesome 65-39 ATS since March 28, 2006 when playing with revenge from an upset loss. I look for OKC to blow out Dallas. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my winners here at BigAl.com. Join for a week, month, six months or year today to get all of my award-winning selections.

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