The NBA has entered its stretch run with teams having 10 or fewer games left before the playoffs begin for 16 teams and vacations start for the other 14.
As such the remaining games will have varying levels of importance depending on the teams involved and what is at stake for each. Coaches will take different approaches to the final weeks of the season, often resting starters when their playoff fate is certain or when playing foes against which they have a decided edge in talent and/or depth.
As the season winds down, and there are supposed mismatches on a fairly regular basis, let’s take a look at how double digit favorites have fared this season.
From the start of the season through December, as we were starting to learn about the teams and separate preseason speculation from the emerging realities of on court play, there were a total of 66 games that featured double digit point spreads, using closing lines from the LVH sports book. As expected, the favored team won a huge percentage of those games straight up, going 57-9. But the point spread results went to the underdogs who went 36-28-2 ATS.
From January 1 through the All Star break in mid-February there were 52 double digit favorites. Again, the favored teams went 47-5 SU and in this stretch of the season were also slightly profitable at the betting windows going 28-23-1 ATS.
Since the All Star break there have been an even greater number of double digit favorites as teams start to be eliminated from the playoffs. The grind of the long season increases and takes more of a toll. Plus many of those laggard teams just don’t have depth. In 63 games with double digit favorites, the chalk has gone 58-5 SU but just 26-34-3 ATS.
As these results show, there does not appear to be any discernable pattern as to using a double digit point spread as a determining factor in making a play. For the season as a whole, in 181 games featuring a double digit favorite those teams are 162-19 SU (89.5 percent) but just 82-93-6 ATS (46.9 percent).
However, the OVER/UNDER results do present an interesting contrast. Through Sunday there have been 548 OVERs, 539 UNDERs and 11 pushes in all games played, a margin that favors the OVER by a slim nine games.
Yet the games with double digit point spreads have produced more UNDER than OVER results. In the above discussed 181 games with double digit lines, the UNDER holds a 98-80-3 edge.
Granted this is not a very large sample size. But it may give some comfort to those who want to play games with lopsided point spreads. It’s not all that easy to make a play on an outclassed team getting double digit points and it’s just as uncomfortable laying the points. But you might consider getting involved by playing the UNDER in such games with lopsided point spreads if you insist on getting involved in such games.
One of the greatest advantages the players have over the books – perhaps the only true advantage – is the player can be selective in making plays and can pick and choose. The sports books, however, offer lines on all games (most of the time, barring injuries or other extenuating factors).
Here’s a look at three games for this weekend.
Indiana at Toronto (Fri.): Over its past 30 games Toronto has outperformed Indiana going 20-10 SU while the Pacers are just 17-13 despite clinging to the top seed in the East as this week begins. The home team has won each of the three prior meetings this season but the Raptors have covered all three games. Indiana was favored in each of those meetings, the last of which was way back on January 7, before the start of the aforementioned stretch of the teams’ last 30 games.
There appears to be some internal issues with the Pacers, whose level of play has dropped significantly since trading away Danny Granger. The Pacers enter this week on a 2-16 ATS run dating back to Feb. 27. Toronto starts this week two and a half games ahead of Brooklyn for the Atlantic Division lead and one game up on Chicago for the third seed in the East. They are simply playing the much better basketball at this point and it would not be a surprise if posted a slight favorite. TORONTO.
Chicago at Washington (Sat.): Washington has cooled a bit following a six-game winning streak since the All Star break, going 7-7 SU since March 1. Still, the Wizards are virtually certain to make the playoffs as their 38-35 record is good enough to have them currently seeded sixth in the East. Chicago is battling Toronto for the third seed while trying to fight off a charge from fifth seeded Brooklyn.
These teams met twice in a five day stretch in mid-January and Washington won both meetings of the home-and-home set of games, by 14 on the road and by 3 in the rematch at home. Those results should have the attention of Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau and the staff. Both teams played Friday night and that could work in favor of the more defensively oriented Bulls. CHICAGO.
Memphis at San Antonio (Sun.): This game could be played at playoff level intensity as both teams have reason to play hard. San Antonio is the hottest team in the league and started this week on a 17 game winning streak that has the Spurs holding a three game lead over Oklahoma City for the top seed in the West. Memphis began this week seeded ninth but just a half game behind both Dallas and Phoenix who were tied for the final two Playoff spots.
The Spurs have won all three meetings with the Grizzlies, going 2-1 ATS. All three games did go OVER the total but the most recent meeting was nearly three months ago, on January 7. Since then both teams have played their best basketball of the season and have the top two defenses in the West. Neither team played Saturday so both should be fresh. With the prior meetings producing higher than expected scoring there should be some value in looking the other way in this important contest. UNDER.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected] oday.com