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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 11
Al McMordie

The NBA season is a little over two months old, and there has been little in the way of surprises this year. The top two teams were expected to be the Warriors and Spurs (and they are). And the best team out East was expected to be Cleveland (and it is). Perhaps the only surprise has been the play of the three other Western Conference semi-finalists from last season (Rockets, Clippers and Grizzlies), as each of those teams has struggled this season. But with three-fifths of the season to go, there’s more than enough time for teams to get their groove back. Let’s take a look at the upcoming week.

Spread Watch

Go figure. The Clippers had underwhelmed this season through the game vs. the Lakers on Christmas, in which Blake Griffin tore his left quadriceps tendon. At December 25, the Clippers were 17-13 straight-up, and 10-16-4 ATS. And they failed to cover the spread by an average of 2.6 ppg. But, in their five games without their best player, they’re a perfect 5-0, both straight-up and ATS. And they’ve covered by an average of 9.9 ppg. I’m not ready to proclaim that the Clippers are back to being contenders. After all, the five teams they defeated (Utah, Washington, Charlotte, New Orleans and Philadelphia) have losing records. This week, the Clippers’ schedule remains soft, with zero games against winning teams. As they say, timing is everything. If the Clippers had lost Griffin immediately before a difficult stretch in their schedule, they would have felt his absence much more. As it stands, they’ve been able to win without him. But this, I believe, sets them up for a loss on Wednesday, at Portland, given that the Clippers have only covered 22 of their last 63 on the road, if they were on a 4-game (or better) pointspread win streak.

Total Watch

Kyrie Irving returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ lineup on December 20, against Philadelphia. Since then, Cleveland has gone ‘under’ the total in seven games in a row. The primary reason has been on the defensive end. Cleveland has held its last seven opponents to 89.57 ppg (compared to a defensive average of 96.0 ppg at the time Irving returned). This week, Cleveland has a home game vs. Toronto, prior to going on the road to play the Wizards, T-Wolves and Sixers. Washington has also played its last four (and six of its last seven) games ‘Under’ the total. The first meeting this season between the teams went ‘Under’ by 23 points, so that will be a situation to watch.

Schedule Watch

There’s always been a lot made of the NBA schedule with regard to back-to-back games, four games in five nights, etc. So much so, that the league made a conscious decision this summer to reduce the number of back-to-backs. But this season, the least rested teams have been an ATM machine in Vegas. Consider that unrested teams playing their fifth game in seven nights are a spectacular 28-7-1 ATS this season, including a perfect 9-0 ATS if our “tired” team’s win percentage is at least .133 better than its opponent’s win percentage. This week, we will have four teams fall into our general angle: Golden State (at Lakers, Jan. 5), Toronto (at Philly, Jan. 9), Miami (at Utah, Jan. 9), and Utah (at Lakers, Jan. 10). And the chances are good that all four will also fall into our .133 Win Percentage Differential tightener (check Miami/Utah’s win percentages on Jan. 9). The Golden State situation (at the Lakers) would be my fave of the bunch, given that the Dubs are 20-7-2 ATS their last 29 when playing without rest, while the Lakers are 6-14 ATS their last 20 when playing foes in a five game/seven nights situation. Good luck, as always…Al McMordie.