Tuley's Takes: Cleaning up on streaking teams in NBA

February 22, 2022 08:56 PM
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If you’ve been reading “Tuley’s Takes Today” on VSiN.com, you know we’re not missing football season as much as we’d feared here in the Tuley’s Takes home office in North Las Vegas.

Starting with the Bengals + 4.5 in the Super Bowl, we hit our top best bet for nine days in a row with four NHL First-Period Overs, three NBA plays and one college basketball play. Some days we just had the one best bet while others we had multiple recommended plays. We lost some of those but kept winning the No. 1 play. Our last best-bet loser was Feb. 12, on the Blue Jackets-Canadiens First-Period Over 1.5. The silver lining that day was we went 2-0 ATS on our secondary plays on the NBA’s Trail Blazers and Hornets for a winning day overall. Our last losing day was Feb. 11.

With the NBA coming out of its All-Star break, this is a great time to recap how we’re going to attack the rest of the season.

The big news over the break was the Suns’ Chris Paul being sidelined six to eight weeks with a fractured right thumb. He’s expected to be back for the playoffs, so the Suns — with the NBA’s best record at 48-10 (.828) and a 6.5-game lead on the Warriors for the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs — are still around 4-1 or 9-2 favorites or co-favorites with the Warriors. If the Warriors are able to get the No. 1 seed, we might see them take over as the clear-cut favorite, but both teams are still regarded as the top teams with a gap to the top-rated teams in the East: Nets around 6-1 after the trade of James Harden for Ben Simmons, defending champion Bucks at 7-1 and the 76ers at 8-1 with Harden joining the team this week to complement MVP front-runner Joel Embiid. I say top-rated teams because the Heat and Bulls are actually tied for the No. 1 spot in the East coming out of the break at 38-21 (.644), but the Heat are around 14-1 to win the title with the Bulls at 20-1 or 30-1 despite the MVP-worthy season of DeMar DeRozan.

I don't often get too involved with NBA futures because it’s long been considered the most formful of the major sports leagues. One of the top teams usually comes through in the end, aided by best-of-seven series that further handicap the chances of long shots.

VSiN colleague Jonathan Von Tobel made his case in last week’s Point Spread Weekly to take the Celtics at 20-1 (you can find 25-1 this week), so I wouldn’t talk anyone out of that, but while there are other intriguing teams in the next tier of contenders — Grizzlies (25-1), Nuggets (30-1), Cavaliers (40-1) — I’m not sure I want to tie up my money for the next four months with the NBA FInals not wrapping up until mid-June.

Instead, we prefer to put that money to use game-by-game. Again, if you’ve been following our daily plays in “Tuley’s Takes Today,” you know we’ve been cleaning up by betting on teams on streaks. The best example was the Cavaliers early this season when they covered 14 games in a row when they were still dogs in most games before the market caught up. We’ve also been fading teams on losing streaks. In addition, our “swagger plays” — betting a team after it snaps a losing streak of six or more games — and “anti-swagger plays” — fading a team after it has a winning streak or six games or more snapped — have been especially profitable.

We were especially bummed to have the All-Star break interrupt the season as we had the Suns on a seven-game winning streak and the Bulls on a five-game run heading into the break, while the Rockets were on a seven-game losing streak and the Magic had lost four straight.

Furthermore, we had five “swagger/anti-swagger” plays lined up when the break hit as the Pistons and Pacers had just snapped eight- and seven-game losing streaks, respectively, while the Celtics had just had a nine-game winning streak snapped and the Jazz and Grizzlies had just lost after having six-game winning streaks.

In the short term, we need to decide if the layoff negates the effect of any of the streaks or the ending of the streaks. My first thought is that we play our “swagger/anti-swagger” plays all the time in college and pro football, so I don’t see why the streaks wouldn’t carry over on both sides of the break. Having said that, we still have to look at these on a case-by-case basis, especially teams that have different starting lineups after the trade deadline. But here would be the plays coming out of the break. 

Note: I give more weight to teams getting points, which is the beauty of these systems as that’s usually the case since a team on a long winning streak is still probably going to be laying points with its power rating rising because of all those wins while a team snapping a losing streak is also more likely to be getting points because of its poor recent form.

Thursday

Nets + 5 vs. Celtics: I’ll take the Nets plus the points even though Harden isn’t expected to join them yet. The Celtics lost some swagger after having their nine-game winning streak snapped before the break, while the Nets should be motivated to try to improve on their current playoff spot as the No. 8 seed in the East.

Suns -10 at Thunder and Bulls -4 vs. Hawks: I’ll pass on these two favorites, but you might consider them if you think their seven- and five-game winning streaks carry over from the break.

Friday (betting lines TBD) 

Rockets-Magic: Just our luck that we can’t fade these teams on their seven- and four-game losing streaks as they face each other. I think it’s safe to say the loser will be a team to fade until it gets its swagger back.

Pacers vs. Thunder: The Pacers snapped a seven-game winning streak before the break, but I’ll pass as I’m sure they’ll be laying points at home against the more woeful Thunder.

Mavericks at Jazz: We’ll see how many points the Mavs are getting at Utah, which had its six-game winning streak snapped for the break.

Saturday (betting lines TBD)

Bulls vs. Grizzlies: The Bulls would be the play here if we fade the Grizzlies, who had their six-game winning streak snapped before the break. The line should be around pick-’em, so we’ll see how it shapes out.

Check out “Tuley’s Takes Today’ at VSiN.com for our daily plays as there can certainly be news and changes in the lines that affect how we view these and other plays.

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