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This Week's Best NBA Bets

This Week's Best NBA Bets

This Week's Best NBA Bets

Each week, we look back on the NBA betting scene and give you the best - and worst - basketball bets, as well as some spots to keep an eye on with the upcoming schedule.

For the week of Dec. 29-Jan. 4

Hottest ATS - Toronto Raptors (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS)

What a difference a month makes. The Raptors were struggling mightily before trading shot-happy small forward Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings; since then, Toronto has been on fire, climbing to the top of the Atlantic Division while pushing its record above the .500 mark. Toronto hasn't just covered the spread - it has left it in the dust, earning five consecutive double-digit victories highlighted by back-to-back triumphs over the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. Toronto has a difficult start to its week with road games in Miami and Indiana but closes with home dates against Detroit and Brooklyn.

Coldest ATS - Houston Rockets (1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS)

Things went a bit sour last week in Houston, where the Rockets struggled with their normally potent offense. The Rockets were thumped 117-86 against an Oklahoma City Thunder team playing without starting point guard Russell Westbrook, then returned home and were promptly stunned 110-106 by the lowly Sacramento Kings. Only a two-point win over visiting New York - a game in which Houston came in as an 11 1/2-point fave - prevented a winless week. Houston hosts the Lakers before embarking on a pivotal four-game road trek through the East.

Best Over play - San Antonio Spurs (2-2 SU, 3-0-1 O/U)

Oddsmakers have already adjusted for the Spurs' surprisingly high-powered offense - but they may have to move the total even higher with San Antonio scoring at a ridiculous clip. The Spurs are 4-0-1 O/U over their past five games, having reached the 110-point plateau in four of them. San Antonio has been doing it with typically efficient shooting, ranked second in the league in both field-goal percentage (48.7) and 3-point percentage (39.4). The Spurs have a short week coming up, visiting the Memphis Grizzlies and hosting the rival Mavericks on back-to-back nights.

Best Under play - Indiana Pacers (2-1 SU, 0-3 O/U)

The Pacers know that, with a league-average offense at best, they'll need an airtight defense to challenge the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference title. Indiana put their defensive chops on display last week, limiting the Cleveland Cavaliers to 76 points in a one-sided win and defeating New Orleans 99-82 four days later. Slide in a 95-82 loss to the Toronto Raptors in between, and the Pacers have gone Under in six of their last seven games entering Sunday's action. Indiana has four games this week, visiting Cleveland and Atlanta and hosting Toronto and Washington.

Surveying the schedule:

The Golden State Warriors are the hottest thing going in the NBA, coming into Sunday with an eight-game winning streak. That includes four straight victories to open their season-long seven-game road trip which wraps up this week with games in Washington, Milwaukee and Brooklyn. With the Golden State offensive attack in mid-season form and the defense putting together some impressive stretches, Golden State could run the table on its road trip - and is rewarded with seven of its next nine games at home.

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Best Bets Heading Into 2014

With the calendar officially flipped to 2014, several NBA teams will try to carry over the good value they provided bettors in the final two months of 2013.

Each of these clubs has a reason for consistently covering the spread, and those reasons vary greatly from one team to another. Expect to see the ATS totals adjusted to compensate for their respective early-season success - but that will come too late for many satisfied bettors who were rewarded for their faith.

Here are the five best bets through the first two months of the NBA season (with records ATS):

Phoenix Suns (23-8-1)

The Suns have been the best ATS play through the opening 32 games, thanks to a surprisingly potent offense ranked eighth in the NBA at 103.7 points per game. The backcourt duo of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic has been a revelation for the Suns, combining to average 36.8 points and 11.7 assists per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the field. That has allowed Phoenix to boast one of the best point differentials in the league (plus-3.2).

Indiana Pacers (23-9-0)

Even with oddsmakers keenly aware of the Pacers' ability to play lockdown defense, Indiana has covered the spread more frequently than any other team in the Eastern Conference. Indiana owns the best point differential in the league (plus-9.2) on the strength of a better-than-expected defensive showing and an offense that has been buoyed by the emergence of star-in-the-making Paul George and versatile guard Lance Stephenson.

Charlotte Bobcats (20-13-2)

Charlotte has been one of the more surprising teams in the NBA so far, becoming a strong ATS play as head coach Steve Clifford extracts maximum defensive value out of his roster. The Bobcats can't score any points but they're allowing the third-fewest in the league and have been one of the most responsible teams in the league on offense, turning the ball over just 12.4 points per game. Things have leveled off of late, with Charlotte 3-4-1 ATS in its last eight.

Portland Trail Blazers (20-14-0)

The Trail Blazers have provided a double dose of betting value, routinely covering the spread while emerging as a reliable "over" option (25-9-0 O/U). Offense has been the catalyst for the Blazers' rise to ATS prominence; they average a whopping 108.7 points per game, nearly two points more than the next best team (Minnesota). Portland is averaging a hair under 40 percent from 3-point range, which is likely unsustainable but impressive nonetheless.

Los Angeles Clippers (21-15-0)

Lob City is populated by plenty of happy bettors in the early going, with the Clippers coming into the weekend second in the Western Conference in covers. Everyone expected Los Angeles to be sound offensively - and it has, averaging 104.8 points - but it has also been passable on the defensive end, limiting the opposition to 100.1 points - the fifth-best rate in the conference. Covering will be a lot tougher with point guard Chris Paul out a month.

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NBA Moneymakers!
By Teddy Covers

The NBA regular season is less than two weeks away from the mid-way point of the campaign. But with the focus on football, the betting markets (and my own writing) have paid scant attention to the pro hoops ranks.  That ends here.

This week I’m going to focus on the good NBA teams; the moneymakers!  I’ll break down some of the best money earners in NBA thusfar and assess their profit making potential moving forward.  And I’ll take a look at a pair of ‘morphers’; teams that are playing significantly better than current market projections.

The Phoenix Suns are at the top of any moneymaker list; a classic example of how preseason expectations can affect ATS results for months, even when those expectations were clearly not right from Day 1 of the season!

Phoenix was lined in the range of 20 wins coming into the season.  The markets expected a major tank from first year, first time head coach Jeff Hornacek’s squad, angling for ping pong balls in the NBA lottery, not for a playoff spot.  But that clearly wasn’t the case, right from the get-go – they blew out Portland on opening night.

The Suns got great play from their dual-point guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.  They got some low post defense and rebounding from second year center Miles Plumlee, with lottery pick Alex Len a complete non-factor.   The Suns second unit, led by the Morris twins, became a unit of strength.  And Phoenix opened up the season by going 7-0-1 ATS in their first eight games, an obvious ATS success story.

But despite a start that turned some heads in betting circles, the Suns have remained an undervalued commodity ever since, covering the spread at a 75% clip through their first 32 games; successful in every role – at home and on the road; as favorites and as underdogs.  Their longest ATS losing streak of the entire year is only two games long.  But without ‘household name’ stars or national TV gigs, we’ve yet to see the markets catch up with Phoenix; a hot team from the start that has managed to retain their value.

It’s no surprise that the Indiana Pacers were going to be very good this year.  After all, the Pacers reached the Eastern Conference Finals last year and gave Miami a legitimately tough test in their seven game series.   They were lined in the range of 55 wins; an elite team.  So how does an elite team that everybody knows is going to be good come out of the gate with a 23-10 ATS mark in their first 33 games; like Phoenix, a squad that hasn’t lost more than two in a row against the spread all year? 

My answer is two-fold: focus and defense.  Frank Vogel had the Pacers thinking about home court advantage in the playoffs from Day 1 of training camp, and the Pacers have used all kinds of perceived slights  as a smaller market team (like not being scheduled on Christmas Day) as additional motivators.  That has led to extraordinary focus, a ballclub that just hasn’t had many weak efforts this year. 

And the Pacers championship level defensive effort has covered more than a few pointspreads.  Indiana has the best defensive efficiency numbers in the NBA; barely allowing 93 points per 100 possessions.  Opposing teams have struggled to hit ‘spread covering’ shots against them again and again in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.

The Charlotte Bobcats spent the last two years as the epitome of a bottom feeder, the very worst team in the NBA both SU and ATS over that span.  And the Bobcats are a long way from being ‘good’ this year, despite their current status as the #7 team in the Eastern Conference playoff race.  What the Bobcats have been this year is competitive, and competitive bottom feeder teams cover pointspreads.

I’ve been impressed with first-year, first-time head coach Steve Clifford, who has established a defense and rebounding mindset from a squad that previously had none.  And two personnel keys for Charlotte – the addition of low post force Al Jefferson and the emergence of Kemba Walker as a go-to scorer and distributor during crunch time – have kept Charlotte from the steady string of blowout losses that doomed them in recent campaigns.

Charlotte’s competitive nature has been on display in one particular role – as road underdogs.  They opened the season with a pair of double digit losses in their first two tries in that role.  Since that time, the Bobcats have been an ATS machine; 12-2-1 ATS in their last 15 tries as road dogs.  It’s a streak that the markets haven’t really caught on to, offering continued moneymaking potential moving forward.

When we look at positive pointspread morphers in recent weeks, two teams stand out, and they both stand out for the same reason – improved defense!  The Golden State Warriors are known for their stellar three point shooting, most notably Steph Curry’s ridiculous stroke.  But the Warriors current nine game winning streak has been every bit as much about improved defensive effort as it’s been about hot shooting.

Andre Igoudala is a lockdown perimeter defender and the key to coach Mark Jackson’s defense on the wing.  But Igoudala got hurt and missed nearly a month of playing time.  Since his return to the lineup, the Warriors defensive efficiency numbers have improved by leaps and bounds; currently ranked #4 in the NBA.  The other key to their defense has been the steady improved play from low post force Andrew Bogut; finally healthy and in rhythm from the start of the season.  As long as Igoudala and Bogut stay healthy, the Warriors are likely to enjoy continued ATS success.

The other stand-out morpher in recent weeks is the Toronto Raptors.  Dwane Casey’s squad was 6-12 SU when they traded away Rudy Gay, a move that seemingly signified a tank approach to the rest of the season.  Instead, the exact opposite has occurred.  Toronto didn’t just get better immediately after Gay left town – they got a lot better at the same time the markets were devaluing them!

The markets certainly didn’t appreciate the veteran talent Toronto acquired in the Gay trade.  John Salmons has become their lockdown perimeter defender. Patrick Patterson has blossomed in a new town, gobbling up rebounds. Greivis Vasquez has had an immediate impact backing up Kyle Lowry at the point.  A trio of Sacramento ‘afterthoughts’ have dramatically out-produced the guy they were traded for!

Toronto currently ranks #7 in defensive efficiency; a number that has improved significantly since the trade.  They’ve notched an 11-3 ATS mark in 14 games since trading Gay, and even the losses can be explained away.  Two of the three defeats came against mighty San Antonio, the third came in a ‘blown double-digit fourth quarter lead’ game against the aforementioned Bobcats.  As a smaller market team with very limited national TV exposure and without superstars, the Raptors have the real potential to retain their pointspread value long term moving forward.

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NBA Betting Report

As the 2013-14 NBA season enters the new year enough games have been played to know which teams provide the biggest bang for the buck and which teams simply haven't panned out for backers.

Our number crunching machine starts out telling us favorites are a dangerous bet posting a 238-260-8 mark at the betting window split between 154-191-5 for homies, 84-69-3 for roadies. Pacers are the most profitable team as a favorite at 12-5 weary a home jersey, 7-3 when slipping on the away uniforms. Kings are the worst team dressed as favorite having never cashed in the roll going 0-10 against-the-number.

As for underdogs, Suns (15-5), Bobcats (17-7-2) continue to rule the roost with profits coming on the road where Suns are 11-3, Bobcats 12-3-2. Grizzlies are the underdog dregs cashing just 6-of-18 tickets when taking points including 0-6 on home court.

Portland Blazers are the top scoring team at 108.7 points/game hitting 40.1% of their shot. TWolves (107.4, 38.9%) and Thunder (106.0, 39.0%) are the next top two in netting points. The worst at getting the ball through the hoop, Bulls at 91.3 PPG, Bucks managing 92.8 per/contest.

Defensively, Pacers are tops allowing a messily 88.6 per/game with Sixers surrendering a whopping 111.1 per/contest. No surprise Blazers with it's offensive fire-power are one of the best 'Over' teams at 25-9 and Sixers with it's putrid 'D' are 20-12-2 to the 'Over. Well to note Detroit Pistons are matching Blazers in the 'Over' department with it's 25-9 O/U mark. Betting 'Under' when Pacers hit the hardwood has proven to be a solid move as they're 12-21 to the 'Under'.

Continuing a look at how NBA action has panned out the machine spits out these betting nuggets. Eastern Conference teams are a cash draining 77-95-2 when taking on the Western Conference with 'Over' dominating at 91-80-2. Raptors (10-2 O/U), Pistons (11-1 O/U) are your best Eastern 'Over' teams when squaring off against a Western club. Sticking with non-conference tilts the database tells us Bucks (0-4), Piston (0-3), Bobcats (0-4) have a strong tendency to come up empty handed if playing a Western Conference opponent without rest.

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Fact or Fiction
By Mike Rose

The calendar year is now said and done with, and that means that we are right around the halfway point of the NBA season. Check out some of the hot topic items as we head into 2014 for NBA betting fans, as we decipher which are fact and which are fiction.


Cleveland Being a Playoff Contender with Luol Deng:
We love the move. The Cavs were getting the worst production in the NBA out of the small forward position, and they went out there and got the best small forward on the market by essentially only giving up a few draft picks. Cleveland is only 12-23 coming into Thursday, but parlaying Deng with Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving should put this team into the playoffs in the East.

Miami's Need For Andrew Bynum: The other piece to the Deng deal was Chicago essentially getting the salary dump known as Bynum's contract. He'll be a free agent by the end of the week, and when that happens, Miami is said to be amongst the interested teams. The Heat badly need a big man who can stand up to Roy Hibbert and some of the other big time big men in the game, and Bynum would certainly fit the mold as a defensive stopper.

Brooklyn's Four-Game Winning Streak: Beating Atlanta and Cleveland at home is nothing to write home about, but the Nets also have wins over Golden State and Oklahoma City in this run as well. Deron Williams will be back eventually, and if Joe Johnson can continue to assert himself as a big time scorer, something which has only happened recently, perhaps the Nets have this figured out. Remember, Brooklyn is only 3.5 games out of the lead in the Atlantic Division, where four-game winning streaks go a heck of a long way.


The Warriors' 10-Game Winning Streak:
The Warriors are good for sure, but they are really starting to get too much respect. They had no business laying six on the road against the aforementioned Nets on Wednesday night, especially not in the midst of a back-to-back against Eastern Conference teams. Golden State will get into the postseason, and it might make some noise when it gets there, but it just doesn't have the goods to keep up at this pace from a pointspread perspective.

Oklahoma City Is the Best in the West: Serge Ibaka is sick. Thabo Sefolosha has a hand injury. Russell Westbrook's knee might never be right again. So what's left for the Thunder? If you want to know what the future of this team holds with all of these problems, just look at the loss to the Jazz on Wednesday. Kevin Durant scored 48, Reggie Jackson scored 20, and the rest of the roster may as well have been eight boards with angry faces. The Thunder need to find a way to make a move to give Durant some help by the trade deadline if they really want to be the best in the West.

Portland's Run with One of the Best Records in the NBA: We're a tad late on this one, as the Blazers have been beaten in four of their last seven games. They started at 24-5 this year, and they were also 18-8 ATS once upon a time. Even look at the loss to the Magic on Wednesday. Portland needed a 39-19 fourth quarter just to put that game away. If you're losing at home through three quarters to Orlando, who is in the midst of one of its toughest stretches of the year, you're in a lot of trouble. The Blazers seem destined to fall in the second half of the year.

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