Welcome to your weekly betting report on the NBA! This week we discuss the two finalists from last season: Phoenix and Milwaukee. The teams seem to be heading in opposite directions, with the Suns setting records and the Bucks failing to cover spreads. The betting market has fallen asleep at the wheel with both of these teams, and there’s value to be found in the futures market and on a night-to-night basis.
Weekly betting report
Favorites: 33-20 ATS (Season: 379-363-7)
Totals O/U: 30-22-2 (Season: 365-383-10)
Home-court advantage: + 2
Two things to watch
Suns setting on the West
In November, the Suns blew away the competition with a 16-0 SU and 11-5 ATS record. In January, they went 13-1 SU and 9-4-1 ATS. They are the first team in NBA history to post a winning percentage of .900 or higher in two separate months. Phoenix went 8-0 SU on the road in both November and January, another NBA record. As of Tuesday, the Suns control the top seed in the Western Conference and are three games ahead of the Warriors. Yet, they are the fourth or even fifth choice to win the NBA Finals at some shops. That is some solid value.
On Tuesday, I took + 700 at BetMGM on the Suns to win it all. They are No. 1 in my power ratings right now, and their front office has addressed the team’s greatest weakness during last season’s NBA Finals run: Depth at center. Deandre Ayton is still one of the best centers in the game, but behind him now is a deep stable of rim protectors. JaVale McGee improved the Suns’ defensive rating by 2.0 points per 100 possessions. When he is on the floor, their rim defense improves by 8.1 percent. Bismack Biyombo was signed off the scrap heap and is averaging 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, plus the team has two developmental pieces in Jalen Smith and Ishmail Wainright, who have made a tremendous impact when given minutes.
Add that newfound depth to a roster with two elite mid-range scorers in Devin Booker and Chris Paul, then throw in one of the best coaches in the league in Monty Williams, and you have a team that should be favored to win the Western Conference, let alone an NBA title.
Last week, Milwaukee was in Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers in a game that went to the home team by a 16-point margin. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Bucks, but if you zoom out you’ll see it was their seventh loss in a 12-game stretch (3-9 ATS). It was a clear whipping that Cleveland handed Milwaukee that day, but Giannis Antetokounmpo could not have cared less. The reigning Finals MVP appeared at his media session with a bucket of chicken wings, licking his fingers between words as he told reporters, “We suck. Played bad.” It’s clear winning a championship has altered the goal for the Bucks. No longer is the idea to win 60 games and a No. 1 seed. The goal now is to get to the tournament and then turn it on for another title. However, the market has not adjusted to reflect those new goals.
The Bucks went 5-10 ATS in January, closing as favorites in every game but two and laying an average of 7.0 points in the 13 games they were favored. The poor performance last month dropped the Bucks to 23-28 ATS on the season, including 11-16 ATS at home. To be fair, Jrue Holiday did miss six games in January, but Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton missed only three games combined and Holiday has been back for the last six, a stretch in which the Bucks went just 2-4 ATS. When fully healthy and engaged, I believe the Bucks are the best team in the Eastern Conference. But until they show that level of engagement, they don’t deserve to be priced as they are and don’t deserve your money.