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.
We’ve officially reached the point of the NBA season that can be dangerous territory for gamblers. The league’s upper-tier are coasting towards the playoffs with little to play for and postseason spots already locked up.
The bottom-feeders are simply going through the motions with no shot of making the big dance while putting in minimal effort. That’s why sharp bettors would be wise to focus on the Association’s bubble teams in the remaining weeks of the campaign.
How do you spot a bubble team? It’s simple. They’re the clubs that are in contention for a playoff spot and are playing with more motivation than everyone else. This week I broke down three bubble teams you should watch out for.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers were the most surprising team in the NBA a year ago, but they haven’t been able to duplicate that success in 2016-17. Portland has turned it on at the right time, however, and currently occupies the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference as a result. The Blazers are one of the hottest teams in the league due a sizzling 12-3 SU record in the month of March as of March 30.
While the race for seventh and eighth in the West will almost surely result in a first-round exit with either the mighty Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs waiting in the wings, just making an appearance in the postseason is a big deal for some teams (not to mention the bonuses players receive for getting there). Ahead of Thursday’s matchup with the Houston Rockets, the Blazers were riding a sizzling 7-1 ATS run. Believe in Damian Lillard.
Miami’s ascent up the Eastern Conference standings has been nothing short of spectacular. The Heat were dead in the water in early January but went on a fantastic run to once again establish themselves as a playoff calibre team. As of this writing Miami was occupying the seventh-seed in the East, tied with the Indiana Pacers at 37-38 SU.
The Heat are still a fantastic bet right now, covering the spread in 12 of their last 15 games. Hassan Whiteside and company rank as the second-best bet in the NBA at 45-29-1 ATS, covering at a 61 percent clip. If you’ve been riding the Heat all year you’re already aware of how great they are at the betting window, and it’s not too late to ride the wave with a few weeks remaining in the campaign.
The Bulls aren’t going to blow you away on paper, and outside of superstar Jimmy Butler they don’t have many recognizable faces for the average hoops fan. But despite Chicago’s underwhelming 35-39 SU record they’re still in the mix in the Eastern Conference playoff race, trailing the Indiana Pacers by 1 1/2 games as of March 30.
Chicago has been one of the best UNDER teams in the NBA for the majority of the season, but they’ve flipped the script on totals bettors and are currently on a four-game OVER streak. Oddsmakers have set the Bulls’ totals low due to their penchant for going UNDER, so tailing the OVER in their games seems like a solid play to me since they’ll be fighting for their playoff lives from here on out.