The 2017-18 NBA season is not even two weeks old, but there are some early-season trends popping up that basketball bettors should keep an eye on as the days turn to the weeks and the weeks turn to months.
Our professional sports handicapping team has isolated those NBA betting angles and whether or not they’ll continue to cash in as the schedule plays out:
Best teams, worst bets
This isn’t entirely surprising give the top-heavy state of the NBA. The top teams – at the least the ones projected to be on top at the end of the year – have been some of the worst bets out of the gate. The Golden State Warriors are just 2-2 SU as of Wednesday and 1-3 against the spread. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, the Dubs’ closest competition in the West, are a combined 4-3 SU and just 3-4 ATS.
In the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 3-1 SU out of the gate but have managed to cover just once in those first four games. And the Washington Wizards, expected to challenge the Cavs for the conference crown are 3-0 SU but only 1-2 ATS.
The reasons behind this trend are simple: these top teams know the NBA schedule is a marathon and not a race. Games played in October will have little value in the grand scheme of things. The most important thing about this stretch of schedule is working in new players and playbooks, and of course, not getting hurt.
LeBron & Co. really don’t care where they finish in the East, as long as they make the playoff cut and have all their weapons healthy come the spring. The same goes to for the Warriors in the West.
These top teams will continue to demand big spreads and draw public money, sucking any value from their night-to-night odds. The best way to wager on these teams may be to go against them, especially in situations when the schedule gets packed and they’d be more focused on resting than covering the spread.
Mid-West is the best
With such a power shift in the Western Conference – Houston loading up, OKC stacking talent, and Golden State building a dynasty – the NBA teams below those clubs are in a fight for their lives. Teams like Memphis, Portland, the L.A. Clippers, Utah, and even San Antonio have less margin for era since they’re all kind of playing for fourth place.
That urgency has produced some sizable profits from the start of the season if you focused solely on those mid-tier Western Conference teams. The five teams mentioned above are a combined 14-3 SU and 14-2-1 ATS – covering the spread more than 82 percent of the time to start the year.
The value in these teams should hang around longer since they don’t attract as big a spread as those elite rivals above them in the Western Conference pecking order, and that they’ll be battling amongst themselves in the standings – fighting for scraps to avoid a bad matchup come playoff time.
The 2017-18 NBA season is very, very young. But through those first 10 days or so, we’ve seen an uptick in scoring. The league is averaging 112 points per contest so far, which is the highest scoring rate since the 1990-91 season.
Knee-jerk reaction would be to go and bet the Over with this info in hand. However, it’s actually worked the other way with NBA games producing a 24-28-2 Over/Under count heading into Wednesday’s action. That’s a 54 percent Under clip in the face of all those points being scored.
So what gives? Oddsmakers may be putting a little too much mustard on those opening totals or it could be the focus between the conferences. The Eastern Conference, thought of as the least powerful of the two, boasts eight of the 11 NBA teams currently playing Over the total more than not. On the other side of this, nine of the 13 NBA teams staying Under the total at more than 50 percent clip claim residence in the Western Conference.
Books and bettors may be putting too much weight in what is expected from these conferences in terms of production, with the Eastern Conference teams scoring more than projected and Western Conference not scoring enough. Expect this trend to balance out as oddsmakers get a larger sample size to draw lines from.