Books getting numbers right on NBA totals

Books getting numbers right on NBA totals

December 25, 2018 3:00 AM
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The NBA season is about two fifths complete with most teams having played between 32 and 34 games through Sunday and one of the major stories that has unfolded over the first two months of the season has been the great amount of high-scoring games.

Factoring out overtime games scoring is up by 9.5 points per game through this same time last season as teams have combined to average 218.8 total points per game in regulation this season vs. 209.3 last season.

Yet even with this increase of 4.5 percent the linesmakers have done an excellent job in balancing Overs and Unders. Through Sunday, there have been exactly the same number of games that have gone Over the total as have stayed Under (246), in addition to four Pushes using the closing lines at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

In an ideal world for bookmakers, all teams would end up with a balanced pointspread record with same number of covers as ATS losses. Of course this is extremely unrealistic but as the NBA pauses for its Christmas break half of the league – 15 teams – are within two games of .500 in terms of their ATS results. Going even further more than two thirds of the teams (23) are within four games of .500 ATS.

A few issues back we took a look at the teams at the extremes of pointspread performances for both Side and Totals wagering (and those extremes will be presented from time to time as the season wears on).

With wishes for a Happy, healthy and profitable New Year here are thoughts on three games over the weekend that will lead into 2019.

Friday

Pistons at Pacers: Somewhat quietly the Indiana Pacers have ascended the standings in the Eastern Conference to tie with Philadelphia for the third-best record, 22-12, which has them just 2.5 games behind Conference-leading Toronto. Winners of 9 of 11 heading into Christmas, the Pacers have what can be considered a blue collar roster with many fine players but no true superstar.

Detroit is a game below .500 and currently seeded eighth. These Central Division rivals are meeting for the first time this season. 

The Pacers are 12-5 SU at home this season with seven of the wins by double digits including each of their last three. After being competitive away from home early this season the Pistons are 1-4 on the road in December with three of the four losses by 12 or more points, two of which have been to teams in the Pacers’ class. PACERS

Saturday

Spurs at Clippers: The glory days of the Spurs appear to be in the past as the roster has undergone a transition over the past few seasons. The team had struggled for much of the season as veteran coach Greg Popovich has tinkered with various combinations and matchups and his patience is starting to pay off. The Spurs are currently ninth in the West after winning 7 of 9 heading into Christmas.

The Clippers have played winning basketball since the start of the season that included a 9-1 stretch over the final two thirds of November. The teams are meeting for a third time with the home team winning the first two matchups. 

The Clippers figure to come modest favorites here (LA was favored by 6.5 in their November win) and considering the changing recent fortunes of the teams the Spurs will make for an attractive take. SPURS

Sunday

Timberwolves at Heat: Both teams were expected to finish a few games over .500 based on Season Win Totals but neither team has played winning basketball thus far. Miami is 16-16 after winning five straight (all as underdogs) and nine of 12 heading into Christmas. The Timberwolves are just 15-18 and ahead of just two teams in the West. 

They did play well for a while following the mid November trade of Jimmy Butler to the 76ers but have fallen back into a slump, going just 2-6 following a 6-1 stretch. There still appear to be chemistry issues with Minnesota.

Scheduling dynamics do favor for the hosts with Minnesota in the first of a three-games-in- four-nights road trip that included a Monday game in New Orleans followed by a Wednesday game in Boston. 

Included in their current streak are wins over Houston and Milwaukee. HEAT

Last week: 0-0

Season: 11-13