Raptors lead the way for NBA against the spread covers

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It’s basically halftime for the NBA regular season, and as football winds down over the next few weeks basketball will attract much of the sporting world’s attention as the Playoffs approach and the NBA Champion is determined in June.

In Las Vegas our NBA champion is often viewed as the team that performs best against the pointspread. Here’s a look at the best and worst performers through this past Sunday.

Three teams have cashed tickets at a 60 percent rate or better, led by Toronto. The Raptors have gone 25-14-1 ATS (64%, ignoring pushes) and are followed by Houston (27-16, 63%) and San Antonio (24-16, 60%).

No team has been cashing at a 40% rate or lower, as the most costly have a pair hitting 43% ATS (Portland and the LA Lakers) with four additional slightly better at 44% (Detroit, Indiana, Golden State and Minnesota). Defending champion Cleveland has also cost backers money, covering at just a 46% (17-20-2).

It’s not unusual for the elite in the league to have losing ATS records as these teams are often overpriced. Thus it is not all that surprising the two highest profile teams – Cleveland and Golden State – have losing ATS records.

What is a bit surprising is two of the teams with solid winning SU records – Houston and Toronto – have performed as well as they have, combining, as noted above, to go 52-30-1 ATS. Adding in San Antonio and over more than 120 combined games, that trio has gone 76-46-1 ATS) despite an extremely strong SU record of 90-33. As Underdogs these three teams are a combined 13-6-1 ATS.

Games continue to be high scoring and thus far there have been 319 OVERS, 287 UNDERS and 5 pushes through last Sunday. On a team-by-team basis there are eight teams that have seen at least 60% of their games go OVER, ignoring PUSHES.

The clear leader in this category is Denver. With 28 OVERS and just 10 UNDERS the Nuggets have seen an extraordinary 74% of their games exceed the total. Toronto is at 65% OVER (26-14) with Phoenix, Milwaukee, Portland, Indiana, Washington and Houston all at between 60% and 64%.

Three more teams – Brooklyn, the Lakers and San Antonio – are at 59% OVER.

Only Chicago is at more than 60 percent UNDER with a 27-15 (64%) mark. Atlanta is next at 60% (24-16).

In 18 of their 40 games the winning wagering combination has been TORONTO and the OVER. The combination of HOUSTON and OVER has cashed in 17 of the Rockets’ 43 games.

The above tendencies are worth tracking over the next few weeks as often the linesmakers will catch up. Those tendencies could show a sharp and sudden reversal back to the norm of 50/50. But there is no guarantee this will occur, so rather than blindly play the reversal it is always prudent to pick and choose. Selectivity is the bettor’s greatest edge is attempt to minimize the house edge of 11 to 10 on straight wagers.

Here’s a look at three games this weekend.

Portland at Philadelphia (Fri.): Portland continues to be one of the major disappointments halfway through the season, whereas Philadelphia is showing signs of improvement on almost a game-by-game basis. Through last Sunday the 76ers had won five of their previous seven games and their Saturday loss at Washington snapped a streak of six straight covers.

During one stretch in December Portland had lost 10 of 11 games, including four games when favored. Things have leveled off a bit as Portland had gone 5-4 since through Sunday but two of the four losses were as favorites. The young 76ers are playing with energy and have gone 7-3 ATS at home following a 1-5 start. PHILADELPHIA

San Antonio at Cleveland (Sat.): Two of the NBA’s elite teams meet for the first time this season. The Cavaliers have been in a mild mid-season slump, going just 3-4 SU in 2017 and an even worse 1-6 ATS. Part of this may be due to playing low level competition and the Cavs’ focus being less than at a peak. The Spurs will certainly draw Cleveland’s attention and intensity.

Both teams last played on Thursday and next play on Monday so we should get a true effort from both. Intrinsically, Cleveland has the better overall roster, which was strengthened with the addition of Kyle Korver. That added depth should be an advantage against a Spurs team that, unlike the Cavs, rarely places special emphasis on regular season games. CLEVELAND

Golden State at Orlando (Sun.): Golden State continues to have the best record in the NBA, 34-6 through Sunday. Orlando appears headed to another season of missing the Playoffs. The Warriors are the much more talented team but this could be a flat spot for them, coming off a Friday night ESPN game at Houston and playing at Miami on Monday (although the Heat are no longer a threat).

The Warriors might give some of their starters limited play should they have a comfortable lead as the Magic have already defeated San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Memphis this season, which suggests a spirited effort as a nicely priced underdog. ORLANDO

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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