Faith in Blazers, Pacers Rewarded Bettors Throughout Season

trail blazers

Jay Pryce

Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:57 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018 1:57 PM UTC

Which NBA teams proved the best and worst against the spread this season? How about surpassing or coming up short of the betting market’s projected win totals? We got the answers right here.

NBA Teams Against All Odds

Here are the best and worst teams of 2017-18 compared to the point spreads in each game and the season win projections.

Top ATS Teams

3. Boston Celtics (46-33-3 ATS, 58.2 percent)

The injury bug bit the Celtics hard just five minutes into the season opener when star forward Gordon Hayward, who debuted after signing a four-year, $128-million free-agent contract, suffered a dislocated left ankle and left tibia fracture. The rest of the year proved a revolving door of ailments, bumps, and bruises to the first team, including knee surgery for All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Head coach Brad Stevens persevered, however, fielding 19 different starting lineups throughout the year. The fact he regularly bested the betting market demonstrates his coaching prowess and elite management of the game. Bravo, Brad!

2. Brooklyn Nets (47-33-2 ATS, 58.8 percent)

The Nets won a measly 28 contests straight up, but regularly topped market expectations by utilizing the all-important 3-point shot. Brooklyn ranked second in the NBA behind the Rockets in attempts (35.7) and number made (12.7) per game. When Brooklyn shot better than or equal to its opponent from the area, it went 26-10-1 ATS, as opposed to a 21-23-1 mark when less efficient.

1. Portland Trail Blazers (46-31-5 ATS, 59.7 percent)

The Trail Blazers topped the NBA against the spread. How? It gave up the fewest quality shots on defense in the league according to Second Spectrum’s quantified shot quality statistics. Their ability to adjust on the defensive end and limit high-percentage looks is uncanny. This is evident by Portland’s second-best 0.526 opponent assist-to-field-goal made ratio. It surrendered 20.2 assists per game, and went 33-10-3 ATS when holding opponents to fewer.

Bottom ATS Teams

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (34-48 ATS, 41.5 percent)

The Russell Westbrook-Paul George-Carmelo Anthony triumvirate didn’t quite light up the scoreboard as anticipated, combining for fewer than 65 points in 36 of the 75 games the trio played together. The Thunder went 11-25 ATS in these contests. What threw off the market most, however, was the absence of defensive specialist Andre Roberson. The five-year pro missed or played less than 15 minutes in 46 game this season, bothered by a sprained left ankle, left knee tendinitis, and eventually knocked out for the year with surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon. OKC went 17-29 ATS in these contests, surrendering 107.4 points per game on defense. The team improved to a modest 17-19 record in all others, allowing just 100.6 points per contest.

2. Golden State Warriors (34-48 ATS, 41.5 percent)

Stephen Curry is everything to the Steve Kerr-led Warriors. The attack, personnel, game design, you name it, revolves around the two-time NBA MVP. Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and others are pieces to complement the sharpshooter’s greatness. When Curry is out, the betting market regularly fails to adjust his worth to the team. Curry missed or played fewer than five minutes in 32 contests this season. The Warriors went 11-21 ATS, failing to cover a -5.8 average line by 5.8 points per game.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (31-48-3 ATS, 39.2 percent)

The Cavaliers started the season 14-35-1 ATS, the worst betting record of any team through its first 50 games in our database stretching back to 1995. The 2003 Orlando Magic, with Tracy McGrady (32.1 ppg) carrying the load, is next on the list at 16-31-3 overall. At the time, Cleveland failed to cover a -5.1 average line by 4.9 points per game. The Cavs went 18-14 ATS to close out the year, but still failed to convincingly top valuations, coming up 1.4 points short of a -3.4 average line per contest.

Top 'Over' Win Total Teams

3. Toronto Raptors (59-23 SU, 49.5 Win Total, +10.5)

The Raptors entered the season with a new offensive philosophy and attack, focusing on less iso-play, more sharing, and higher-efficiency shots. Bingo. The Raptors ranked fourth in scoring offense with 111.7 points per game. They scored fewer than 100 points 14 times all season as opposed to 29 last year and 41 in 2015. Toronto went 53-15 SU when reaching the century mark.

2. Philadelphia 76ers (52-30 SU, 39.5 Win Total, +12.5)

The future is bright for the young 76ers with Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz manning the backcourt. But what pushed Philly easily over its season win total was the regular play of center Joel Embiid. The All-Star defensive force more than doubled his number of career appearances (63) this season since being drafted third overall in 2014. To give you an idea of his value, the Sixers are 60-34 ATS all-time when he suits up.

1. Indiana Pacers (48-34 SU, 31.5 Win Total, +16.5)

No Paul George, no problem. With the fourth-lowest payroll in the NBA ($95,146,157), few expected the Pacers to make a playoff run. The team managed to play high-efficiency basketball on both ends of the court, ranking 12th on defense (108.1 points per 100 possessions) and 10th on offense (109.6 points per 100 possessions). In an increasingly stats-driven, analytics league, Indiana won the battles they needed to on the court by maximizing every ounce of talent on the roster. Believers were rewarded handsomely.

Top 'Under' Win Total Teams

3. Golden State Warriors (58-24 SU, 67.5 Win Total, -9.5)

See the above-mentioned value of Stephen Curry to the Warriors’ abysmal ATS record this season to understand why they came up well short of their win total. Golden State is essentially a 41-41 team this year with Curry out of the lineup, limping to a 0.1 average scoring margin in 32 games the sharpshooter sat out or played fewer than five minutes.

2. Dallas Mavericks (24-58 SU, 35.5 Win Total, -11.5)

The writing was on the wall for the aging franchise with few young go-to talents on the roster. The offense proved abysmal, especially in high-efficiency areas near the rim. Dallas put up a paltry 38.8 points per game from the paint, fewest in the NBA. Nor do they have the talent to draw many fouls, taking the second-fewest free-throw attempts in the league (18.7 per game). More visits to the charity stripe to offer rest might have worked wonders for the NBA's fifth-oldest roster (27.2 average age).

1. Memphis Grizzlies (22-60 SU, 37.5 Win Total, -15.5)

No team relies on a pair of aging stars more than the Grizzlies. The franchise proved over the last couple of years that when veteran point guard Mike Conley or center Marc Gasol are out, the team slumps badly. Since 2015, Memphis is 42-87 SU when one of the two is out of the lineup. It compiled a 15-55 record with Conley missing nearly the whole season due to complications from a prior Achilles injury, and Gasol nursing ankle, hip, and groin injuries throughout the season.

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