Judge NBA teams on current record when betting

Feb 17, 2009 5:10 PM
Bettin’ on B’ball by Andy Iskoe |
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Pro Football’s Bill Parcells is often attributed with the statement that "you are what your record says you are" when it comes to assessing how good or bad a certain team may be.

Current form rather than overall record is often a more relevant factor in wagering upon upcoming games. This is especially true for teams that play the 82-game NBA season.

Through the All-Star break about two-thirds of the NBA regular season has been played, roughly 50 or so games per team. A look at a team’s last 20 games can often show a significant reversal of form as compared to a team’s full season results.

This can help the handicapper in finding favorites to play against or underdogs to play on. The public’s perception of teams is often slow to change.

Yet there is a wide disparity in how teams are positioned to start the season. Some teams are pretty much set in their starting lineups and substitution patterns. Others struggle through preseason to decide on their rotations or start the season without a projected starting lineup or reserves due to injury.

Through the All-Star break, Boston, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando have the top records in the NBA. There is then a small gap to Denver and San Antonio.

Each of the six teams leads their respective divisions and has won more than two thirds of all games played to date. And, the six have also shown consistency, winning 14 or 15 of their last 20 games. This is an example of where current performance is in line with full season results.

But there is also one other team that has gone 14-6 over their last 20 games that has not had such a great season overall. The Philadelphia 76ers are just three games over .500 for the season and currently seeded sixth in the East, a half-game behind Miami for the No. 5 seed.

Keep an eye on the Sixers over the next few weeks, especially when on the road as underdogs against other than the league’s elite teams. There should be some good value.

Oklahoma City is poised to show continued improvement, especially with the emotional boost from Kevin Durant’s outstanding performances during All-Star weekend. Look to play the Thunder in coming weeks as they will continue to be attractively priced underdogs.

A dark horse team that can make some noise in the playoffs is Houston. If the Rockets are healthy at playoff time, they could go far.

The Lakers have the best overall record as we go to press, 42-10 but are being closely followed by Boston (44-11) and Cleveland (40-11). Be very cautious in playing against any of this trio in competitively priced games, even on the road. Each team has shown the ability to fashion lengthy win streaks.

Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend:

Mavericks at Rockets (Fri): The road team has won both meetings, each decided by 10 points. Houston has fared well at home, especially of late, winning four straight and 9 of 10. Both teams are rested but Dallas does have an easy game on deck Saturday hosting Sacramento which lead to clearing the bench and preserving energy if Houston starts to extend. ROCKETS.

Hornets at Jazz (Sat): In their only previous meeting six weeks ago Utah blasted the Hornets by 26 on this court. The Jazz have enjoyed the greatest home court edge this season with a league high 14.1 point differential between average home and road scoring margins. Utah is rested after hosting Boston on Thursday, New Orleans is off of a game at the Lakers on Friday. JAZZ.

Heat at Magic (Sun): The home team has won both games. Miami is adjusting to the trade which sent Shawn Marion to Toronto in exchange for Jermaine O’Neal over All-Star weekend. Orlando is still led by Dwight Howard and has had two weeks to adjust to Jameer Nelson’s absence. The situation calls for another home team win. MAGIC.