We are at the midway point of the NBA season and we're going to take a look at some of the most interesting results that the betting side of the game has given us. Being a daily endeavor, NBA point spreads are not as over-analyzed as their NFL counterparts, but they still shine a light on which teams are actually reliable and can become a good investment on the long term.
With over 60% of games played on the season, we have a nice sample to jump into solid conclusions and try to follow the money in the second half of the season. Even as some teams will now try to go into full tanking mode, and others will become more desperate at pushing for the playoffs, NBA betting trends tend to be steady for a full season.
Biggest Winners and Losers
So far, there are 12 NBA teams that have won at least 60% of their games (7 of them coming from the Western Conference), but the same thing can only be said of three squads against the spread – and one of them doesn´t even win straight-up at that rate.
ATS over 60%
Hawks: 37-17 (.685)
Bucks: 34-19 (.642)
Warriors: 31-19-1 (.620)
It is no surprise to see Atlanta and Golden State at the top, as they lead their respective divisions and only see a mild drop when comparing their winning percentage with their ATS number (Atlanta -.111, Golden State -.204 – perfectly understandable for teams that win as often). However, seeing Milwaukee – the sixth seed in the East – is kind of shocking. Their ATS percentage is .76 higher than their true winning acumen, which is not huge relative to bad teams who are saved by the spread, but still remarkable for a playoff squad.
On the other hand, 14 teams in the league have won less than 45% of their games, but that notion only holds true against the spread for 7 squads.
ATS below 45%
Lakers: 22-28-3 (.440)
Timberwolves: 23-30 (.434)
Wizards: 23-30-1 (.434)
Knicks: 21-30-2 (.412)
Kings: 21-30-1 (.412)
Clippers: 22-32 (.407)
Nuggets: 20-30-3 (.400)
Not surprising to see some of the league´s bottom-dwellers here, but it is at least mildly eye-popping to see Washington and the Clips hanging around the cellar. The Wizards fall 177 winning percentage points, while the Clippers drop a whopping .241 from their straight-up performance. Of course, high expectations tend to correct themselves via the spread. To wit, the Cavs and Spurs are barely above 45% against the spread.
Masters of the House and Road Warriors
Only 5 teams hold a winning percentage ATS of at least 60%, which again shows how well the sports books are at setting point spreads. However, one of them has become almost an automatic bet despite the lofty spreads.
ATS at home above 60%
Warriors: 18-6-1 (.750)
76ers: 17-9 (.654)
Hawks: 18-10 (.643)
Rockets: 16-10 (.615)
Thunder: 14-9-1 (.609)
Four playoff contenders… and the Sixers? Really? Well, the Philadelphia tanking experiment has seen them sink to the bottom of the rankings, but it seems that they still provide enough value as a betting option. They have been underdogs in each of their 53 games of the season, posting a winning record against the spread (.519) almost 300 points above their straight-up mark.
On a similar note, there are six squads above 60% covering the spread as a road team, all of them coming from the Eastern Conference.
The best team in the West on the road is Utah at .593, and its only playoff team would be Dallas at .586; again, this shows just how weak the East is a whole, with no truly dominating team covering spreads at home.
Other Trends on Note
- The best team coming off a loss is Houston, at 13-3. The worst is, strangely, Golden State at 3-6 the next game after losing.
- Playing in back-to-back games, the best teams in the league are the Pelicans at 10-2, and the Raptors at 9-2. On the other side, Phoenix and Minnesota are at the bottom with 4-8 marks.
- Outside its conference, Atlanta is a league-best 14-5, and Phoenix is at 14-7 to lead the West. Conversely, Minnesota is the East´s worst at 8-14. And yet, the saddest number in the NBA may be Sacramento, which is a decent 17-17 against the West, but 4-13-1 against the lowly East.
- The high-scoring Warriors have only hit the over on 49% of their games, with the top spot belonging to Pacers at 58.5%. On the other side, the Sixers stand at the bottom with only 34% of their games going above the posted point total.