Welcome to the Hoop and the Harm. This is a weekly feature on OddsShark where hoops bettors can uncover all the hottest need-to-know trends, stats and general info for the week that was on the hardwood.
The NBA all-star break is officially over, and now the real season begins. With roughly a quarter of the campaign remaining, it’s do-or-die time for teams with playoff aspirations.
But for sports bettors, the landscape of the Association is much different. While squads like the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers tower over the rest of the league in the standings, lesser heralded clubs have been getting the job done at the betting window.
This week we’re going to take a look at the best and worst spread bets, as well as the top OVER and UNDER teams in the NBA as of late February.
Top ATS teams
This is not a drill: the Philadelphia 76ers are the best bet in the NBA. Who the hell saw that coming?
After spending years looking like a YMCA intramural team, the Sixers are finally a respectable basketball team. The finally healthy Joel Embiid has been a revelation in 2016-17, as the Cameroon native is averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in limited minutes while becoming the runaway favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
So, how has Philly become such a good bet? It’s simple: oddsmakers have been extremely slow to react to their success, and that’s caused them to receive big underdog spreads due to their years of occupying the cellar of the Eastern Conference. Books have started to catch on now and are setting better lines in 76ers games, but I’m going to keep riding the train throughout the course of the season.
Worst ATS teams
|Portland Trail Blazers||22-34|
The Portland Trail Blazers were the biggest surprise of the 2015-16 season, as the dynamic backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum carried them to the second round of the playoffs despite on paper looking like they were destined to pick high in the lottery. But that was last year. This season’s Blazers have been anything but great, especially for hoops bettors.
At 22-34, Portland has been a downright putrid wager. The Trail Blazers hit an absolute wall before the all-star break by going 0-6 ATS in their last six affairs, giving up an average of 111 points per game in that span. The defense has been awful all year long, surrendering 110.1 PPG, the fourth-worst mark in the NBA.
In short, the Trail Blazers are who we thought they were all along. And until they can show any signs of life on the court, they’re fade material throughout the next few months.
Top OVER teams
I’ve pointed out this trend many times this season on OddsShark, but it’s worth stating again: When it comes to going OVER totals, the Denver Nuggets are the most consistent bet in the NBA and it’s not even close.
With 38 OVERs to their credit, the Nuggets are the perfect example of a team that’s built to consistently go above totals. Denver is averaging 110.6 PPG (fourth in the NBA) while giving up 111.8 PPG (28th in the NBA) – the perfect OVER recipe. The breakout play of big man Nikola Jokic has been a boon for Mike Malone’s squad, as the six-foot-10 center is posting 16.3 points per game in just his second season.
Danilo Gallinari (17.2 PPG), Wilson Chandler (15.6), Will Barton (13.9) and Gary Harris (13.4) have flourished in Malone’s system. The defense is a work-in-progress, but the Nuggets are gunning for the playoffs and currently possess the eighth and final postseason spot at 25-31. This team won’t be taking their collective feet off the brakes any time soon, so don’t expect the scoring to slow down.
Top UNDER teams
|Golden State Warriors||25-31|
The Chicago Bulls have been a mess all year long, and it’s caused the seat under second-year head coach Fred Hoiberg to get increasingly hot. The Dwyane Wade/Rajon Rondo experiment looks like a complete failure, and trade rumors continue to swirl over Jimmy Butler’s head despite him being the only player on the roster who could be labeled a star.
The biggest beneficiary of the Bulls’ dysfunction has been UNDER bettors. At 21-35-1, Chicago has been a fantastic wager when it comes to cashing UNDER bets. The Bulls have the seventh-best defense in the league, giving up an average of 102.8 PPG. Their shooting struggles have been well documented, and I’m not convinced they’ll end the year north of 44 percent.