NBA crying out for scoring

Nov 25, 2003 7:50 AM

Three weeks into the NBA season has brought major concerns over the lack of scoring.

Consider that through the first 15 percent of the season the average total score is 183. That’s nearly a "touchdown" less than last season and there have been some downright ugly scores. Already 10 teams have posted fewer than 70 points in a game.

In nearly fifteen percent of all games at least one team has been held under 80. On nine occasions both teams managed to score less than 80.

Despite these woeful numbers the lines maker has done a pretty good job at evening out the distribution of "overs" and "unders." Through Sunday, the "unders" hold a 97-87 edge with three games ending in a push. The "under" margin had been 11-3 after the first two games of the season. Since then — nearly 175 games — the results have been almost exactly 50-50.

The bookies have compensated for all that ranting and raving about the sharp decline in scoring. So, don’t automatically think that the decrease presents favorable opportunities for playing the "under." There has also been no league wide bias for covering the point spread. To date home teams are 95-87-5 against the line.

There has, however, been one area of wagering that has been exceptionally profitable in the early season. As with most sports, home underdogs provide great value.

In the first three weeks of the NBA season, home underdogs are a spectacular 30-13 ATS (70 percent). While this high rate of success won’t last, pay attention to home underdogs for the next few weeks to see if the lines are adjusted to compensate for this unusually high rate of success.

Last week it was noted that none of the seven teams in the Atlantic Division had a winning record. That remains the case a week later. The teams with the four worst records in the entire NBA are in the East with a combined record of 12-43! Only one Western Conference team (LA Clippers) has a losing record.

The only bright note coming from the East is the 10-2 start by Indiana and the 10-4 record of New Orleans. One must wonder if both the Pacers and Hornets had to play most of their games against teams from the West.

It must be noted, however, that this pair has won six of seven games against teams from the West. Those readers looking for long shots to win the NBA title might just look in their direction.

Here’s a look at three games to be played over the holiday weekend.

Spurs at Lakers (Fri): The Lakers needed double overtime to win the first meeting this season when Tim Duncan was sidelined for the Spurs. Now it’s Shaquille O’Neal who has been sidelined for the Lakers, having sat out Sunday night’s blowout win over Memphis. Without Shaq the Lakers are loaded and will want to make yet another statement against the team that ended their run of three straight NBA titles last season. LAKERS.

T’wolves at Mavs (Sat): All but two of Minnesota’s wins have come against the weaker East. Seven of Dallas’ nine wins are within the West. The Mavs reputation for poor defense may be a bit overstated with nearly a third of the league allowing more points. Both teams played on the road Friday night. Minnesota is learning to come together with so many new faces and will have trouble keeping pace. DALLAS.

Nets at Kings (Sun): East meets West as struggling New Jersey adjusts to not having Alonzo Mourning at center. Kidney problems forced the former Miami All Star to retire and that might actually open things up for the Nets. The offense will run more through Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson. Nets games are averaging less than 170 total points, while Sacramento’s games are the league’s highest scoring at just over 204. Use the lines maker as your guide going OVER 184 or UNDER 190. A total in the middle of this range might work towards the underdog. NEW JERSEY.

Last week: 2-1

Season: 8-3