It is hard to believe we are just a week from what I consider the best day in sports: Christmas. For our Matchup of the Week we will visit that day, but this week is all about finding value in the futures market and on a night-to-night basis against certain teams.
Let’s dive in!
Warming Up to Miami as a Contender
Every Sunday I am at the Westgate SuperBook to take in the day of NFL action. Before the games this week, I swung by the counter to grab the Miami Heat at 80-1 to win the NBA Finals. There is so much to like about this team. Miami sits 11th in defensive efficiency, according to the NBA’s statistical database. It starts along the perimeter for the Heat, where they rank second in the Association in opponent 3-point percentage (32.8). They are insanely athletic, and it shows in their ability to close out on shooters from almost every position. They also have one of the league’s best perimeter games on offense, ranking third in 3-point shooting as a team (38.7). That is actually what makes this team so surprising. Not only does it shoot extremely well, but it also attacks the rim better than almost any team. Miami takes 35% of its shots at the rim and shoots 66.1% within 4 feet, fourth best in the NBA. So we have a team that defends the perimeter, shoots the ball and finishes at the rim in a league consistently moving away from the midrange. It’s a match made in heaven. Keep in mind that Miami has barely received production from Justise Winslow due to injury, and Goran Dragic has been in and out of the lineup with injuries. Once those two become healthy, this team becomes even stronger. The number on Miami has been adjusted to 60-1 since Sunday, but it’s still worth a wager if you want to add a long shot to your futures portfolio in the NBA.
The Lakers’ Litmus Test
The holidays are upon us, but it might not be the most joyful time for the Los Angeles Lakers. Heading into Tuesday night, the Lakers had played 27 games, 18 against teams with losing records. There is no question the Lakers have looked dominant, and they have passed almost every test they have faced, with wins at Dallas, Miami and Denver. However, the next week will push this team in a way it has not been pushed this season. Tuesday the Lakers were at Indiana in a massive lookahead spot, with the Milwaukee Bucks waiting for them on Thursday. Before their meeting with the Clippers on Christmas, they must host the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. It does not end there, as they finish the year with a back-to-back at Portland and home against Dallas. The public, unsurprisingly, has fallen in love with Los Angeles, and it has provided some fantastic opportunities to bet against the Lakers. They were in South Beach on Friday to take on that Miami team we just spoke about, were bet up to 5.5-point favorites and failed to cover in a fantastic affair. They were bet up from -11.5 to -12.5 at Atlanta on Sunday and failed to cover. The value has been in betting against Los Angeles before tip-off, giving the public plenty of time to lay the points and inflate the number. Over the next week, bettors will have opportunities galore to take advantage of the Lakers’ inflated power rating against teams with power ratings comparable to their own. The next week will answer a lot of questions about Los Angeles, and it’s the perfect time to punch on some value with their opponents.
Matchup of the Week: Milwaukee @ Philadelphia
A Christmas showdown makes our matchup of the week. This will be the first meeting of the season for these teams, and both are playing fantastic basketball. Milwaukee’s 18-game winning streak was just snapped by Dallas on Monday night, and Philadelphia is 13-3 SU since a 2-5 SU slide in the middle of November. These are two of the best defensive teams in the NBA, and Philadelphia is quietly having a fantastic offensive season. Over those 16 games, the 76ers have an offensive rating of 110.3, the 10th-best mark in the NBA, and on the season they are the sixth-best 3-point-shooting team in the league (37.5%). Philadelphia has multiple weapons to throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo, and one would think Josh Richardson or Al Horford would be the choice. Similar to the Lakers, Milwaukee has had a very easy schedule, laying double digits in each of its last five games and in 13 of its 18 during the winning streak. It seems like as good a time as any to jump in with a surprisingly undervalued Philadelphia team on Christmas and lay a small number against the top seed in the Eastern Conference.