Bet the Under for Magic vs. Warriors

Jason Lake

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:43 AM GMT

Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2014 11:43 AM GMT

The Golden State Warriors haven’t been a very good NBA bet this year. At least they’re winning basketball games way more often than the Orlando Magic. Where does the best value lie for your NBA picks?

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 16 inclusive:

83-67-2 ATS

22-20 Totals

These are very interesting times in the sports betting universe. The 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has come and gone, and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight data journalism website has been freshly rebooted with more emphasis on sports. There’s never been a better time to be a quant. Too bad so many of these smart people are busy trying to “beat Las Vegas” instead of beating the less informed portion of the betting market.

I don’t want to claim that betting on the NBA is easy, but a basic contrarian approach – armed with good data – will put you in position to win more than 52.4 percent of your picks and claim that small profit margin. That’s what we’re trying to do here. Thank you for reading.

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Orlando Syndrome

The Orlando Magic (19-48 SU, 28-37-2 ATS) have done a very good job of playing below market expectation this year. This is what can happen when your goal as a franchise is not to win, but to lose – see the Philadelphia 76ers (24-42 ATS) and Milwaukee Bucks (29-38 ATS) for more. On Tuesday, the Magic will be on the West Coast to face the Golden State Warriors (42-26 SU, 32-33-2 ATS), with Golden State laying 12.5 points on the NBA odds board.

I have, however, found myself following the Magic on occasion rather than fading them across the board. And I’ve generally gotten burned in the process. There are some quality players on this team, led by Nikola Vucevic (18.6 PER) and Arron Afflalo (16.9 PER), and Orlando is 7-6 ATS in road games against winning teams, so I could easily talk myself into rolling the dice again, even though I should know better.

Lee Presses On

The Warriors have been an infuriatingly marginal pick all season long. They’ve got talent, no question; Stephen Curry (23.2 PER) is having his best season yet, and David Lee (19.3 PER) continues to be one of the most underrated players in the NBA. But as a basketball betting commodity, Golden State is at cross-purposes. The offense is surprisingly flat, while the defense has been astonishingly good.

Here’s the data: The Dubs are only No. 13 in the league in offensive efficiency (104.5 points per 100 possessions), down from No. 10 last year (104.2), which makes them fadeworthy against an NBA betting public that expects videogame offense because of Curry’s highlight-reel 3-pointers. But they’re also No. 3 in defense (99.5 points allowed/100) under head coach Marc Jackson, up from No. 13 last year (102.6). Yes, the Warriors are playing better defense than the San Antonio Spurs (100.4). Dogs and cats, living together.

Shop Around for 2013-14 NBA Championship Betting Futures

Totes

Perhaps you’ve already figured this one out – if the Dubs are down on offense and up on defense, surely that means they’ve been driving the UNDER to the pay window? Indeed they have, to the tune of 40-26-2 this year. That’s a more profitable record than anyone’s generated against the NBA spreads except for the Phoenix Suns (43-22-1 ATS at press time). And guess what, the UNDER is also 36-31 for the Magic. Very nice.

One problem: The OVER is 7-4 in Orlando’s last 11 games. However, the most recent Magic game was a 105-101 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards (OVER 200.5), so that hardly seems fair. Meanwhile, the UNDER is 11-3-1 in Golden State’s last 15 games. Given that we’re not sure if Vucevic (sore ankle) will be able to suit up in this game, I’d rather avoid the spread altogether and take the UNDER in Tuesday’s matchup. Tip-off is at 10:30 p.m. ET, and may the sphere be with you.

NBA Pick: Take UNDER 202.5 at BetOnline

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