Now that we are in the All-Star Break and the trade deadline is fast approaching, the NBA is starting to wind down. There are roughly 30 games left for every team and that means that some teams are outside, or pretty close to being eliminated from playoff contention.
That means we'll have a lot more teams tanking, which is the NBA equivalent of losing (mostly on purpose) to ensure better draft position. However, not all bad teams will be tanking. Some don't own their draft picks and others see themselves as still in contention for one of those final playoff spots.
However, there are still some tricks and tips to betting tanking teams and I'm here to help you out so you can make some money off these bad teams.
Tanking Teams to Fade After the All-Star Break
There are currently four teams in the East that are at least four games or more out of the playoffs, while in the West the situation is a little muddier. However we know that the Lakers have given up on this season and the Suns are behind them, so it's safe to say those two teams will be losing games a lot over the last half of the season.
However, while the Suns will be trying for that number one overall pick this season, the Lakers absolutely have to ensure they have a top three pick. LA will convey their first-round pick to the Sixers this season unless it falls in the top three of the draft and on top of that if they give up a pick to the Sixers this season, they also owe their 2019 first round pick to the Magic because of the Dwight Howard trade way back when.
That means it is easily in the Lakers' best position to lose and lose a lot over the rest of the season. They are already starting to play their younger guys more and may even be in the market to trade Lou Williams, which would make them even worse.
The Lakers were in basically the same position last season when they picked second and got Brandon Ingram. LA was 10-17 ATS and just 6-23 SU after the All-Star Break and they had Kobe Bryant in some of those games. It would not surprise me to see the Lakers losing continue after the All-Star Break. However, they are an impressive 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games, so it all really depends on if the sportsbooks continue to severely undervalue them or not.
LA is currently holding the third worse record in the league behind the Nets and Suns, but LA also has 39 losses, so they could easily finish with the second worse record this season. They will need to keep losing though and hope not many other teams are in the same position.
The Magic have signaled that they are tanking with the trade of Serge Ibaka. They are looking like a team that could be an excellent fade over the rest of the season, mostly because they have very little scoring. Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier are all they have in regards to true scoring talent and that isn't enough.
The Magic know they're done this season and they are going to try and sneak into the top three in the draft. They also get either Toronto's or the Clippers' first-round pick because of the Ibaka trade, so Orlando has signaled they are playing for next season. Last season they went 16-14 ATS after the break, but their team is worse this year.
Which Bad Teams Won't Be Tanking? (YOLO Nets)
The problem this season is it looks like there will be three below .500 teams in the playoffs. The final two spots in the East and the last spot in the West might go to an otherwise tanking team, but either way, there are a few teams to watch late in the season.
The biggest tanker is the Brooklyn Nets, who have yet to win 10 games this season. However, the Nets do not own their first round pick as they are still suffering from the horrible moves they made several seasons ago bringing in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Because of this, the Nets are going to keep fighting and they have played hard for coach Kenny Atkinson this season. Brooklyn is 24-29-3 ATS this season, but they started to fade since the New Year, where they are only 7-18 ATS.
Brooklyn is a unique case this season because while they don't want to tank, they are so bad they will continue to lose SU and ATS very often. They might trade Brook Lopez and that would be the icing on the cake for them. Continue to monitor them right after the break because you could get away with blindly fading them and you might still make money.
There are other bad teams that might not tank. The Mavericks seem to be one of them, even though they have shown flashes at times this season of being able to compete.
Betting Totals With Tanking Teams
Even though the Nets may not want to tank, they are going to give up some points in the last stretch of the season. The same can be said about the Lakers, Suns and probably the Knicks who look like they are playing for next season as well. All these teams (except the Nets) can benefit from losing and the easiest way to do that without looking like you are is by not playing defense.
These four teams all currently rank in the bottom third of the league in defensive efficiency, allowing at least 111.5 points per 100 possessions.
However, there isn't a lot of correlation between tanking teams and totals. A few tanking teams last season were fine over plays. For instance, the Magic were 17-12 cashing the over after the All Star Break and 7-2 cashing the over in their final nine games.
However, the Lakers' offense last season was pretty poor and that showed in their stretch run going 15-12 cashing the under. They also cashed the under at 6-4 in their final 10 games as well.
When it comes to teams like this down the stretch, it matters a lot who their opponents are, but that could also make their opponent's team totals fine over plays on certain nights. Just follow the trends post-All Star Break for these teams and find a way to exploit their tanking other than just fading them on certain nights.