By Al McMordie
We’re through seven weeks of the NBA season, and home and road teams are virtually dead-even in Vegas (home teams are 175-176-8 ATS), as are favorites and underdogs (favorites are 176-175-8 ATS). A big money-maker, though, has been revengers, as teams playing with revenge from a loss earlier in the season have gone 56-29-1 ATS, including 33-12-1 ATS off a loss. Let’s take a look around the league to see if we can find some other wagering situations to line our pockets.
The San Antonio Spurs own the league’s 2nd best record, as they’re 19-5. But when San Antonio lost their first road game last week at Chicago (following 13 road wins to start the season), coach Gregg Popovich called out his team’s lack of effort. Indeed, San Antonio’s been winning in spite of lackluster play. They’ve trailed by double-digits in seven of their last nine games, but have done just enough to go 7-2 in those games. So, Popovich criticized his team, and said, “It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and don’t do your job, you don’t get any work….If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity.”
Not surprisingly, the Spurs responded to their coach’s words, and blew out Brooklyn, 130-101 on Saturday. It was the highest-scoring game for San Antonio this season, and was its biggest margin of victory since opening night, when it also won by 29 points. That win improved the Spurs to a not-so-gaudy 6-4 at home (the Spurs were 40-1 at home last season). Patty Mills explained the team’s mindset after the Brooklyn game, “We came into this game knowing we had to lace ’em up and do what we do. No more messing around.”
This week, San Antonio will host Boston on Wednesday and New Orleans on Sunday, with a road game in between, at Phoenix. The Spurs have owned all three teams of late, with 10 straight wins vs. Boston, seven vs. Phoenix, and four vs. New Orleans. I look for the Spurs to string together a bunch of good games, as they’re a veteran-laden team, and the “no more messing around” attitude should prevail, at least, for the short term.
After going 44-38 last season, and earning a #5 Playoff seed, the Portland Trail Blazers have struggled out of the gate this year, and are just 12-13 SU and 9-16 ATS through 25 games. The Portland Trail Blazers have also gone ‘over’ the total in 17 of 24 games this season, including 9-2 ‘over’ at home. And the main reason has been a defense which has an NBA-worst Defensive Efficiency Rating of 1.13. Last year, the Blazers ranked 19th in Defensive Efficiency, and had a 1.08 Rating.
To kick-start this week, the Blazers will travel to Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Monday. The over/under line has been installed at 217.5, and that’s key, as Portland has gone ‘over’ the total in all eight games this season when the line has been north of 217 points. Los Angeles has sailed ‘over’ in 15 of its 24 games, as well, so I look for a relatively high-scoring game on Monday.
The Los Angeles Lakers dropped their 6th game in a row on Sunday, when they fell to the New York Knicks, 118-112. And Los Angeles has surrendered over 115 ppg during this 6-game skein. But the good news for Purple-and-Gold fans is that their two leading scorers — Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell returned to action, though in a limited capacity. Russell had missed all but one of the Lakers’ last 13 games due to a sore left knee, while Young had missed seven of nine games to heal his strained calf muscle. Against New York, Russell played just 17 minutes, and was ineffective (1-for-8 shooting; 5 assists; 4 turnovers). Young fared better in his 20 minutes, as he scored 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting.
Going forward, the Lakers definitely need their starting backcourt duo on the court, if they’re to be competitive. This week, LA will play four road games vs. the Kings, Nets, 76ers and Cavaliers, so things might get worse before they get better. But there’s reason for optimism in Los Angeles this season, if they can stay healthy, as LA was 7-5 before Russell succumbed to his knee injury.
The Houston Rockets are 17-7, and have outscored their opponents by 5.9 ppg. Both of those stats place Houston among the top 5 in the league. Even better: for our purposes, Houston is 17-7 ATS this year, and has covered the spread by an average of 4.29 ppg (both of which rank 2nd behind the Raptors’ 16-6-1 ATS mark and avg. pointspread differential of +5.28). And this success has come even though Mike D’Antoni’s men have played the hardest schedule in the league thus far. Only nine of the Rockets’ 24 games have come at home, so they’re likely even better than their stats currently indicate.
This week, Houston will finish a 4-game home stand which started with Saturday’s 22-point win over Dallas, as the Nets, Kings and Pelicans will visit the Toyota Center. Then, on Saturday, Houston will travel to Minnesota to face the T-Wolves. The Rockets will certainly be heavy favorites this week at home, so they’ll likely own a 9-game win streak going into that game vs. the T-Wolves. And even though Houston’s won seven in a row vs. Minnesota, don’t be surprised if the Wolves upset James Harden & Co. First, Houston will be unrested off a home game, and playing its 3rd game in four nights vs. a very well-rested Minnesota club which will have had the three previous days off (it’s worth noting that such teams have only covered 32% over the past 27 years, if they’re also off back to back wins). And second, the Rockets will play that game with a revenge match vs. their rival, the Spurs, on deck. Assuming the Rockets go into that game on a 9-game win streak, I’ll definitely fade Houston on Saturday.
Good luck, as always…Al McMordie. And don’t miss any of my red-hot winners here at Capper Reviews. The College Football Bowl season, of course, kicks off at the end of this week, and I was 69-44 this NCAA Football season (+ $21,300), and 17-9 in the College Bowl games last year, so join for a week or month today to get all of my Award-Winning plays, including my 10* College Football Game of the Year.