Three NBA trends to watch

November 30, 2021 09:59 PM

It was a somewhat quiet week in the NBA with the league taking a night off for Thanksgiving, but there is still plenty to discuss. This week we touch on the totals phenomenon before discussing the Pistons’ surge and the struggles of the two Los Angeles franchises.

Betting Report

Favorites: 24-26 ATS (Season: 169-139-2 ATS)

Total O/U: 31-20 (Season: 135-173-5)

Home-court Advantage: + 3

Last week I punted on predicting when totals would start to head Over, and sure enough Overs had their first winning week of the season at 31-20 (60.8 percent). This was bound to happen. The indicators were there; it was just a matter of when. The average closing total bottomed out the previous week at 214.5 per game, but last week that figure was up to 215.6 per game. Offenses are getting better, and for the second week we’ve seen the average offensive rating in non-garbage time jump, as teams are now putting up 108.6 points per 100 possessions. Shooting has not budged at 37.3 percent, but expect the trend to continue. Overs will not hit at 60 percent the rest of the season, but I would expect they will win the week often.

Other than that, not much to report from a side perspective. Favorites had a solid week in going 30-20 SU (one game closed PK), but underdogs won the week at 26-24 ATS. The fascinating part of this season has been the strength of teams at home. Home-court advantage is solidly sitting at three, and road teams have mounted no real push lately. When handicapping the card on a night-to-night basis or when making your own numbers, keep that in mind.


Pistons Improving

It might come as a surprise to say a team that won just three times in November with the second-worst net rating in the league at -8.4 is worth playing consistently, but that is the case with Detroit. Heading into Tuesday’s meeting with the Trail Blazers, the Pistons were on an 8-4 ATS run and were getting better on both ends of the floor. Their strength is a defense that has allowed just 108.7 points per 100 possessions over those 12 contests. That rating might not look like much, but it is better than what Miami has put up over the same span and would be average for a season, which is massive for a team like Detroit.

Offense is still a huge problem, but even that has been getting better. The Pistons have put up just 102.2 points per 100 possessions during the 12-game stretch, which is 2.2 points better than their offensive rating for the season. This improvement coincides with the debut of Cade Cunningham, and it should be a sign of things to come. Before the season I was high on Detroit, or as high as one could be when talking about one of the worst teams in the league. That optimism is starting to come to fruition, and bettors should note the success this team could continue to have against the number.

Betting Market Loves The Lakers

Insert the cliche about the definition of insanity here, but this truly is insane. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers opened -9.5 against Detroit, and the betting market drove up that line to -10.5, where it closed. The Pistons needed a 36-27 fourth quarter to get inside the number, but the failed cover dropped the Lakers to 7-15 ATS, the worst spread record by cover rate in the league. They are 4-12 ATS when closing as favorites and 4-10 ATS at home. Los Angeles is the most overvalued team in the league, but the betting market cannot get enough despite terrible returns.

So how do bettors take advantage of this? Betting against a team regularly is always tricky, but it should be the strategy here. Not only is the betting market not adjusting the power rating on Los Angeles, but it is actively inflating it. The Lakers are 1-6 ATS after an ATS win, as the market loves to overreact to what it saw last. Until we see a tangible adjustment, betting against Los Angeles should be a regular occurrence.

Clippers Continue To Slide

There is a lot to like about the Clippers, but all those positive aspects come on the defensive end. Los Angeles is still second in non-garbage time defensive efficiency, allowing 103.7 points per 100 possessions. Even better, the Clippers are fantastic at defending without fouling, as they lead the league in opponent free throw rate at 14.0 made free throws per 100 possessions. Their half-court defense is tremendous, giving up just 86.9 points per 100 plays, and they are ninth in transition defensive efficiency at 118.6. These incredible statistics have led to a + 2.3 net rating in non-garbage time despite being one of the worst offenses in the league, and that is getting worse.

After a loss to New Orleans on Monday night, Los Angeles fell to 3-6 SU, 2-7 ATS in its last nine games. While the Clippers put up 1.145 points per possession in the loss, it was the highest offensive rating they had notched since beating the Timberwolves two weeks ago. Over this losing streak Los Angeles is averaging 100.1 points per 100 possessions, and its offensive rating on the season is 25th at 106.0 points per 100 possessions. Perhaps this could be fixed with better health. Marcus Morris has been back the last three games, and Serge Ibaka has been on the floor for the last five games. Nicolas Batum has not played for two weeks, but once he returns the team will be missing only Kawhi Leonard. If this persists into December, it will be something to worry about. But should the Clippers correct it, the league should be worried about another contender in the West.

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