Scoring continues to be up sharply since play resumed following the week long All Star break with OVERS continuing to outpace the UNDERS.
The first 4 days upon the resumption of play produced an average of 213.5 total points. This past week averaged 212. Both numbers are considerably higher than the pre-All Star break average of 203.6.
Whether the increased scoring is due to fatigue, poor defense or better overall shooting is subject to debate but from an entertainment standpoint more is better. Golden State and Oklahoma City treated us to a very entertaining game last Saturday when a Stephen Curry 3 point buzzer beater game the Warriors a come from behind 121-118 overtime win.
San Antonio continues to have the best pointspread record among the 30 NBA teams and is the only one covering at least 60 percent of its games. At 37-22 the Spurs are covering 63%, remarkable considering their 50-9 overall mark and sustained record of success going back a decade and a half. The Spurs did have a recent streak of 4 straight ATS losses which was immediately followed by the 3 covers in a row through Sunday.
Golden State (58% and Portland (57%) are the next most successful ATS teams although neither is more than 9 games above .500 ATS. Portland remains a play “on” over the next few weeks, especially when made the underdog. Since Jan. 10 Portland is 15-6 ATS including 6-1 as an underdog – both SU and ATS!
The poorest ATS team has been Phoenix, who snapped a 13 game losing streak on Sunday but has still lost 28 of the last 31 games. The Suns are the lone team below 40% ATS at 23-36 (39%). Right at 40% are Chicago (23-35 ATS) and Oklahoma City (23-35-1 ATS).
It is generally believed the oddsmakers are pretty quick to catch on to teams at both ends of the pointspread spectrum.San Antonio continues to cover despite an outstanding winning record, while the Suns continue to cost their backers big time, going just 10-21 ATS during their 30 game stretch including 4-9 during that 13 game losing streak.
The Suns have covered back to back games just once since early December, a stretch of 37 games. About the best one can say about the Suns regarding the pointspread is that they are 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games through Sunday. Barely a month and a half remain before the playoffs begin.
Cleveland and Toronto have started to distance themselves from the rest of the teams in the East with the Cavaliers starting the week 2 games ahead of the Raptors with a gap of 5 more games to third seeded Boston. But only 4 games separate the Celtics from the three teams currently tied for the final two seeds with ninth seeded Detroit. Tenth seeded Washington is just 2 games out of the seventh seed.
The West is much more stratified with Golden State 3.5 games ahead of San Antonio for the top seed with third seeded Oklahoma City 9 games behind the Spurs. OKC starts the week 2.5 games ahead of the fourth seeded LA Clippers who in turn are 4 ahead of fifth seeded Memphis.
The Grizzlies are 3 games up on the two teams tied for the sixth and seventh seeds, Dallas and Portland. Houston rounds out the current West playoff field, 2.5 games behind the Mavericks and Blazers but just a half game ahead of ninth seeded Utah. The Jazz, in turn, are 3.5 games ahead of tenth seeded Sacramento.
Over the next few weeks it may be helpful to pay attention to which teams unlikely to make the Playoffs are still playing hard. Those teams are the ones that may well play the role of spoiler when playing teams in the race to make the Playoffs and often will be sizeable underdogs. Often these also-rans are getting a few points too many when facing a team that “needs” to win the game.
Keep in mind that, as in other sports, there are different levels of “need to win” games and they should be approached differently. A team “needing to win” in order to just qualify for the playoffs may not one to be backed. That team will normally have failed to win enough earlier in the season to be placed in its current situation. And often there is an added premium placed in the line because of that “need to win” factor.
The other type of “need to win” team has already qualified for the playoffs with a chance to improve seeding, gain home court advantage for a first round series or perhaps even claim the top spot within its conference or overall.
Here’s a look at three games this weekend.
Indiana at Charlotte (Friday): Scheduling dynamics favor the hosts as Indiana plays at Washington on Saturday whereas Charlotte plays next on Monday. Charlotte has been playing well at home, winning 5 of its last 6 (4-2 ATS). The situation sets up nicely for the Pacers as they seek to atone for those two recent home losses to Charlotte. A successful play here could set up a nice play against the Pacers on Saturday in Washington. INDIANA.
Boston at Cleveland (Saturday): Despite the increase in scoring since the All Star break Cleveland has held 4 of 6 foes under 100 points. Boston has averaged 110 points per game since the All Star break. As the younger team the Celtics should be capable of better dealing with the back to back games despite having to travel, a factor that may give a point or so of value to the line. BOSTON.
Houston at Toronto (Sunday): These teams are meeting for the first time this season. Toronto has continued to play well following its 11 game winning streak that vaulted them into the second seed in the East, going 7-4 including the streak snapping loss. Entering the week 39-19 Toronto has the NBA’s fifth best overall record and off 10 straight home wins (7-3 ATS). They also catch Houston off a Saturday night game in Chicago. TORONTO.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]