Nearly two thirds of the NBA’s 30 teams have already played at least half of their 82-game regular season schedule and the remaining 11 teams shall reach the halfway point this week.
Last Saturday night saw a very rare occurrence as the league’s best team, Golden State, lost while the league’s worst team, Philadelphia, won. The season-long prop that allows bettors to wager on whether the 76ers losses will be greater or less than the Warriors losses at the end of 82 games now stands at Warriors 5 losses and 76ers 4 wins. Thus at the virtual halfway point of the season Philly has been less futile than the Warriors have been dominant, albeit the separation is just a single game.
Of more importance is that with the Warriors’ fourth loss of the season the San Antonio Spurs, at 36-6, are just a game and a half behind Golden State for the NBA’s best record.
The midpoint of the season is a good time at which to look at the teams that have most outperformed their preseason projections with an eye toward possibly finding an attractive team to play in futures.
Not surprisingly both Golden State and San Antonio top this list as they are on a pace to exceed their projected wins totals by 14 and 13 games respectively. Clearly there is no value in making a futures play on either the Warriors or the Spurs given the short odds on each.
No other team is on a pace to exceed its projected wins total by more than 10 games although three teams are in the neighborhood of besting their projections by from 8 to 10 games. New York, Dallas and Detroit are those teams, and of the three Detroit may be the team that can do the most damage come playoff time.
Remember, often we make futures plays with an eye toward hedging our position if our team makes the Playoffs and is able to get by the first round in many cases. The power in the West is at the top where Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the LA Clippers are likely to be solid favorites to advance past the first round as solid favorites. Currently there is a solid 4-game gap between the fourth seeded Clippers and the two teams tied for fifth, Dallas and Memphis.
But in the East, where Cleveland holds a 4-game lead over second seeded Toronto, the gap between Toronto and the teams tied for the seventh and eighth seed, Boston and Indiana, is just 3.5 games.
At odds of 200 to 1 to win the NBA Title and 80 to 1 to win the East it might be worth taking a flyer on Detroit. The Pistons started this week 22-18, seeded sixth in the East.
And what makes futures plays even more attractive in the current environment is there are businesses that cater to such wagers such that if you hold a ticket and wish to get out of your position in advance of having the event decided you can sell your position.
It’s an ever and fast changing world in the sports betting marketplace as innovation and technology combine to make what once seemed pipe dreams to be the ordinary course of business. To borrow a phrase from the annual State of the Union address, the state of the sports betting industry has never been brighter.
Here’s a look at three games this weekend.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks (Friday): These teams have met twice this season including just last Wednesday. OKC won both games but was just 1-1 ATS with both games on the Thunder’s home court. The Thunder is playing its best basketball of the season, starting this week on a 4-game winning streak and winners of 6 of 7 while going 23-6 since just before Thanksgiving and not having lost back-to-back games since late November.
Dallas has been shaky of late, going just 4-6 since winning four in a row to end 2015. The OKC combo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is displaying the great chemistry that marked the team’s success last season. On the road this should be a very competitively priced game, perhaps right around a pick. Both teams are rested after having last played on Wednesday and neither team plays on Saturday. OKLAHOMA CITY.
Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers (Saturday): These teams are meeting for the first time since Chicago defeated the Cavs on Opening Night, 97-95, but failed to cover as 4 point home favorites. The Bulls were the healthier team at the time as the Cavs started the season with several injured players. But now Chicago is short handed with Joakim Noah out for several months after suffering a dislocated shoulder over the weekend.
At 28-10 Cleveland has the best record in the East and remains the solid favorite to reach the NBA Finals. After winning six in a row Chicago started this week having lost 4 of 5 and is without Noah. Following a 3-game losing streak to start December the Cavs have gone 15-3 since with winning streaks of 6 and 8 games. They are rested and catch the Bulls off a Friday night game in Boston. They will be solid favorites but their talent and depth should prove decisive in the second half as the Bulls can be expected to wear down. CLEVELAND.
LA Clippers at Toronto Raptors (Sunday): This is a revenge game for the Clippers who lost as 6.5 point home favorites to the Raptors just before Thanksgiving, 91-80. The Clippers are playing their third game in four nights and it is the middle game of a five-game road trip. But they are rested after having last played on Friday and next playing on Tuesday. Toronto is in the middle of a seven-game homestand and also last played Friday and next plays on Tuesday so we should get a true effort from both teams.
The Clippers are red hot and just had their 10-game winning streak snapped by Sacramento last Saturday. They have overcome a sluggish start to the season and have started winning even as Blake Griffin is out with an injured quad. Toronto also played well, starting the week having won four in a row and 8 of 11. That should give us some value with the underdog. LA CLIPPERS.
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]