Al McMordie’s NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 13, 2018


By Al McMordie

The NBA Trade Deadline is less than four weeks away, so the rumors have started to swirl.  In the middle of such rumors is LeBron James’ Cavaliers, who have lost seven of their last nine games, and now sit in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, behind Boston and Toronto.

Certainly, there is pressure on Cleveland’s management to upgrade its roster, lest it risk losing James to Free Agency in the off-season.  But they may be unwilling to part with either of their two 2018 first-round picks, which would hamper any effort to acquire talent.

Let’s take a look at this week’s upcoming action.

Spread Watch

This has been the strangest of seasons for the San Antonio Spurs.

On the surface, of course, everything looks normal.  The Spurs are 28-15 straight-up, and they are 22-18-3 ATS.  They own the 5th best record in the league, and are likely on their way to their 21st consecutive season of winning at least 60% of their games.

But what’s missing this season is any long-term consistency. And that’s obviously related to the fact that six of their best nine players have missed significant playing time.

Kawhi Leonard (35 games missed), Tony Parker (26), Danny Green (11), Rudy Gay (9), Manu Ginobili (8) and Kyle Anderson (8) have all been sidelined for significant portions of this season, which has greatly harmed the Spurs’ ability to find any sort of rhythm.

Indeed, San Antonio’s longest win streak this season is just four games.  And its longest point spread win streak this season is just three games!

To put these streaks into perspective, consider that the Spurs have had 88 separate win streaks of at least five games since the 1997-98 season, but this year they have had none.  And they’ve had 72 separate point spread win streaks of at least four games since 1997-98.  But, once again, they’ve had zero this season.

The good news is that sometimes INCONSISTENCY can be a gambler’s friend.

For example, the Spurs are 10-6-1 ATS this season off a point spread loss, while they’re 9-11-2 ATS off a point spread win.  Thus, by simply betting on the Spurs to do the opposite against the spread from the result of their previous game, one would be 21-15-3 ATS this season.  In this way, the Spurs’ inconsistency can certainly be used to our advantage — at least until the point in the season when they’re finally healthy, and have found some cohesion.

But that’s likely weeks away, at this point.

This upcoming week, the Spurs will host Denver, on Saturday, before embarking on a 3-game road trip to face Atlanta, Brooklyn and Toronto.  With the Spurs off a blowout loss this past Thursday at the Lakers, I would lay the points with San Antone on Saturday vs. the Nuggets.

Total Watch

The Chicago Bulls’ best player (by far) this season has been Nikola Mirotic.  He’s averaging 17.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.  And his PER is 23.03.  Unfortunately for the Bulls, he missed the season’s first 23 games while he recovered from facial fractures sustained in an altercation with his teammate, Bobby Portis, in the preseason.

Chicago started the season 3-20 straight-up and 10-12-1 ATS without Mirotic.  But since he returned, it has gone 12-7 SU and 14-5 ATS.  A big reason is that Chicago’s offense has greatly improved.  It averaged 95.6 ppg in its first 23 games, but 110.2 ppg since.  And one area which has been greatly affected is Over/Unders.

Prior to MIrotic’s return, Chicago went ‘Over’ the total in just nine of its 23 games (39.1%).  However, it’s sailed ‘Over’ the total 15-3-1 since.

This week, the Bulls will host Detroit, Miami and Golden State.

Of these, the game on Wednesday vs. the Warriors looks like the best candidate to be high-scoring.  Golden State has played six of its last seven games ‘Over’ the total. Moreover, these two teams combined for 237 points earlier this season.

Injury Watch

The New York Knicks’ 2nd leading scorer, Tim Hardaway, Jr., returned Friday night after missing 20 games with a stress injury in his lower left leg.  New York was 11-10 SU and 13-8 ATS prior to his absence, but went 8-12 SU and 9-11 ATS while he was on the shelf.

In his first game back, a 118-108 loss at Minnesota, Hardaway, Jr. played very well, and scored 16 points in 25 minutes, with three rebounds, two assists, and two steals.  He averaged 34 minutes per game prior to the injury, so it bears watching to see whether or not coach Jeff Hornacek restricts his minutes, and/or holds him out of back-to-back games.

This week, New York will host New Orleans, before road dates at Brooklyn, Memphis and Utah.  (The game vs. the Nets will be the 2nd of a back-to-back situation.)  The Sunday afternoon home game vs. New Orleans looks to be a fantastic spot to back New York, as it was 11-3 ATS at home with Hardaway, Jr. in the line-up, including a perfect 5-0 ATS as a favorite (or PK).

Additionally, the Pels are a poor 4-7 ATS this season off a win, if their opponent is off a loss.  And the Knicks are 13-6 ATS in the last 19 meetings.

Schedule Watch

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers traveled “across the pond” to play a game in London, England this past Thursday.  The Celtics won that game, 114-103, as a 1.5-point favorite.  The NBA’s “International Series” games dates back to 1984, when the Nets and Suns met in Milan for a preseason game.  The first regular season games outside of the USA/Canada was in 1990, when the Suns and Jazz opened the season with two games in Tokyo, Japan.

Overall, since 1990, the NBA has played 12 games in Japan, eight in England, and seven in Mexico.  The games in Mexico, of course, are played in a regular time zone, while those in England and Japan are not.  The knee-jerk reaction might be to play AGAINST the two teams immediately upon their return from Japan or England, under the theory that they might be a bit out-of-whack from the travel.

Not surprisingly, such a knee-jerk reaction has proven to be wrong.

Indeed, NBA teams have actually over-performed in their first game back (as well as their 2nd game back), as they’ve gone 18-6 SU and 16-8 ATS in their initial game (and 17-7 SU and 15-7-2 ATS in their 2nd game).  And we’ve seen somewhat similar results in the NFL, as those teams have gone 23-18-1 ATS in their game following a trip to London (although all but six of those teams had a bye week in between).

One of the best situations in an NBA team’s initial game back is when it was playing with at least four days’ of rest, as that situation has gone 8-2 ATS.

Boston will be playing with four days’ of rest when it hosts New Orleans on Tuesday, and I would lay the points with the Celtics.  Good luck, as always…Al McMordie.

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