Without looking, take a guess which team has the best against the spread record in the NBA for the first half of the season. One might speculate the Golden State Warriors considering they have the league’s best overall record at 47-9, lead the league in scoring at 118.2 points per game and are No. 1 in points differential at plus-12.8. However, the Warriors are often such big betting favorites that they are just a so-so wager ATS at 28-26-2.
A review of the lines offered by Intertops show that the NBA’s best bet of the first half has been the Philadelphia 76ers. They have the fifth-worst record in the league on the court at 21-35 but are No. 1 ATS at 34-22 as well as the best home bet at 20-9 ATS.
This sportsbooks among others have been putting up big numbers against the 76ers and they are covering them while still losing the actual game more often than not. Much of Philly’s on-court improvement is due to center Joel Embiid, who is the Rookie of the Year favorite. Then again, Embiid has missed 14 of the past 15 games because of and the Sixers have still been covering at a terrific rate. Will the books adjust in the second half? And when will Embiid return to play?
You don’t have to be a playoff contender to be a good NBA bet. The Miami Heat has the NBA’s second-best ATS mark at 33-24-0. They are just 25-32 overall. The Heat had one of the most unlikely 13-game winning streaks in NBA history from Jan. 17-Feb. 10. Miami was 11-30 when the run started and it became the longest streak in league history by a team that was under .500 throughout, and the best that began with a club at least 19 games below .500. The Heat’s overall ATS record is misleading because they covered all but one of those games in the winning streak. Throw that out, and the team is below-.500 ATS. I would not recommend hitching my wagon nightly to the Heat in the second half.
Finally we get to a lock playoff team among the ATS leaders. The Houston Rockets are third in the league with a 33-25 ATS mark. They are 40-18 overall and third in the Western Conference – most likely to end up there for playoff seeding. The Spurs are four games ahead in second and the Clippers are four games behind in fourth. Houston is +1200 to win the Western Conference. The good thing about finishing third would be avoiding the Warriors – who remain heavy -favorites to win the West a third straight season – until the conference finals should Houston get there.
The Rockets have the best ATS road record in the NBA at 19-11. Houston played 29 of its first 51 games on the road this year. That was tied for the fifth-most road games within the first 51 games of a season in NBA history. The Rockets are winning and covering most nights behind MVP betting favorite James Harden and by launching an unprecedented number of 3-pointers. They have taken 2,308 3-point attempts, which is the highest total in NBA history through the first 58 games of a season. That shatters the previous mark of 1,963 by the Rockets in 2014-15. That’s also what makes Houston’s road ATS numbers so impressive: clubs generally shoot better from distance at home where they are familiar with the rims and background, etc.
One team that has been a solid 30-27 ATS in the first half of the season was the Sacramento Kings. They are likely to be a much worse bet out of the All-Star break after trading superstar center DeMarcus Cousins for 40 cents on the dollar to New Orleans. The Pelicans were 27-29-1 ATS in the first half but could be a much better wager with the addition of Cousins. New Orleans has jumped up to +5000 to win the West.