NBA Second-Half Outlook
NBA All-Star Weekend isn’t just a time for basketball fans to take in the best the Association has to offer. It’s also a time for basketball bettors to catch their breath and prepare for handicapping the second half of the season.
Here’s a couple things to keep an eye on as the schedule heads towards the playoffs . . .
If you had to pick the two finalists for this year’s NBA championship, the Los Angles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers would be the consensus among bettors.
Other contenders like the Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, and Dallas Mavericks haven’t made the same waves the Lakers and Cavs have in the first half of the season. They are the only two teams in the NBA to crack the 40-win mark, with Cleveland leading the league with 43 wins and Los Angeles just behind with 41.
However, for bettors, neither team has been a solid moneymaker – and that’s unlikely to change in the second half of the calendar. The Cavaliers currently hold a 28-25-1 mark against the spread while the Lakers are just 25-27-2 ATS. The public appeal of both teams, along with superstars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant drawing a ton of headlines, has sucked any value out of their spreads.
The one circumstance handicappers have cashed in on both Los Angeles and Cleveland is when they are shorthanded. Each team has dealt with injuries to key players but has maintained their level of play.
The Lakers were without All-Star forward Pau Gasol for extended periods while Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum all battled ailments. Before the break, L.A. shelved Bryant due to an injured ankle for two games and books discounted the Lakers to 2.5-point home favorites against the San Antonio Spurs and 5.5-point road underdogs versus the Utah Jazz. Not only did Los Angeles cover, it won outright.
The Cavaliers have been without backcourt staples Mo Williams and Delonte West in recent games, leaving Cleveland to start reserves Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker. Ever since Williams went down with a shoulder injury, the Cavs have won 11 straight games and covered the discounted spreads in eight of those matchups.
Thunder struck and Hot-lanta
Sharp basketball bettors know that true value doesn’t always lie with the best teams. The most profitable squads this season are contending in their respective divisions, being good enough to cover oddsmakers’ expectations but not elite enough to deal with unwanted chalk.
The Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder are the top two moneymakers in the NBA with identical 32-19 ATS records. Both teams boast winning records, with Atlanta second in the Southeast at 33-18 and Oklahoma City sitting in third in the Northwest with a 30-21 mark.
Both teams are loaded with young talent that can play at both ends of the floor. The Thunder are the fifth-best defensive club in the NBA, allowing only 95.4 points per game. The Hawks rank 10th in the league, budging for just 97 points. And each team has a go-to scorer, with Kevin Durant and Joe Johnson leading the charge, alongside a complementary roster of role players.
Bettors should expect more good things from these clubs in the second half of the season. Atlanta will be pushing hard to knock the Magic from the top of the division, and extra motivation usually means extra profits. Oklahoma City is currently in sixth place in the West and has been cash on the road, going 19-7 ATS in opposing arenas. It plays 15 of its remaining 31 games away from home in the second half.
Wagering on the New Jersey Nets during the first half of the season would have you living on the street and begging for change just to make your next wager. The NBA’s worst team has won just four games and boasts a 19-32-1 mark against the spread.
However, keeping tabs on this lovable loser down the home stretch could prove profitable if you can put its past failures behind you. Last year, the Nets posted a 43-38-1 ATS record and closed the year with five ATS wins in their final six games of the schedule. With nothing to play for, except avoiding the NBA’s worst-ever list, New Jersey will have its sights set on moral victories down the home stretch.
The Memphis Grizzlies are another club that finished strong for bettors at the end of last year. The Grizzlies won just 24 games and were 38-43-1 ATS but posted a 9-3 record against the spread in the final 12 games of the season.
This time around, Memphis is at the bottom of the Southwest at 26-25 but is only 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot. Memphis went on a tear in January but headed into the All-Star break winning just once in its last seven games – going 1-6 ATS.
With a playoff spot dangling like a carrot, the Grizzlies could pick up their play once again and provide solid value in the second half of the season.