Forget Detroit!
Toronto team to bet

Mar 7, 2006 5:01 AM

With slightly more than one month remaining in the NBA regular season, teams will begin to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Contrary to what many would naturally conclude, such teams often make for profitable wagers in the waning weeks. Although there might be an inclination by the veterans to ”˜toss in the towel,’ keep in mind that many players have contract incentives to chase and younger players will be given more playing time to show what they can do.

In fact, the Toronto Raptors have the best pointspread record in the NBA at 33-22-4, covering at a 60 percent rate. Long out of playoff contention following a 1-15 start, the Raptors have continued to play hard and were involved in a few transactions to reshape their roster. Because of their poor record, they do not get much respect from either the linesmaker or the betting public.

Charlotte is another dreadful team in the standings that has been profitable to its backers at the wagering windows, although the profits are quite slight with a pointspread mark of 31-26-3.

The linesmaker has done an excellent job of getting most teams within a few games of 50/50 in terms of spread results. Through this past Sunday only 7-of-30 NBA teams have shown a profit after nearly 60 games.

Of the seven, four (Toronto, Indiana, Phoenix, Memphis) have averaged one unit of profit per month since November.

Of course most teams with losing records will also show losses against the spread. Seattle, not surprisingly, has the worst spread mark at 23-36-1, covering just below 40 percent. After capturing the Northwest Division last season with 52 wins, the Sonics got off slow and have never really recovered. Expected by most to at least be a playoff contender, Seattle started 6-19 SU and 5-19-1 ATS.

Current form can be a very useful handicapping tool once the season has passed the midway point. Season to date results and averages tend to become stale several months into the season. That’s due to lineup changes, altering the distribution of minutes, dealing with injuries, etc.

Looking at a team’s performance over the most recent 10 or 20 games can often give a totally different view of how that team is playing.

A team’s last 10 games often reflects play over a 2½-week period. Twenty games covers roughly one month to five weeks.

A team’s last 10 games could include either a lengthy homestand or road trip, while 20 reflects a more balanced distribution of home and away games.

San Antonio and Dallas are challenging Detroit’s once seemingly invincible lead for the best record in the league.

The Pistons begin this week with 11 losses, one less than San Antonio and two below Dallas.

The Southwest winner would be seeded first in the West with the rival seeded fourth, setting up an inevitable second round matchup. Such an upset seems very remote considering that the team currently seeded eighth (LA Lakers) is 16 games behind San Antonio.

In a possible 4 vs. 5 matchup, Dallas leads No. 5 LA Clippers by a whopping 12½ games

Here’s a look at three attractive matchups to be played this weekend.

Grizzlies at Kings (Fri): Thefourth meeting this season with the home team having won the previous three. Ron Artest was with the Kings for the two most recent matchups and Memphis limited him to just 12-for-41 shooting. Artest has been a defensive presence and gets Memphis in the final game of a second West Coast road trip of at least four games in the past month. Sacramento has been playing much better basketball since Artest’s arrival and needs to pass a couple of teams to make an eighth straight playoff appearance. KINGS.

Clippers at Bucks (Sat): Both teams are currently in the playoffs, but each has won just three of their last 10 games. In their only meeting back in mid November, the Clippers routed the Bucks by 24. Both teams are off road games Friday night. The Clippers were nearby in Chicago, while Milwaukee returns from Boston. Interestingly, this is the Clippers’ only Saturday game of the season. Neither team is noted for strong defense. OVER.

Rockets at Spurs (Sun): The teams have met just once with San Antonio winning by 6, but failing to cover at home in mid November. The Spurs are battling for the best record in the West. Houston has to make up four games and pass three teams just to make it in as the No. 8 seed. The Rockets are healthy with both Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady back in the lineup. McGrady is seemingly day-to-day with nagging injuries that have plagued him all season. The scheduling spot favors Houston, catching the Spurs playing their third game in four days. The Spurs will be moderately priced favorites, but the Rockets are playing well enough to stay competitive. ROCKETS.

Last week: 2-1

Season: 25-29-1