There has been plenty to learn on the NBA basketball odds and betting trends at sportsbooks even thought yesterday, Nov. 4, marked one week since the 2014-15 NBA season tipped off.
Injuries Wrecked 2 Title Contenders
We entered this NBA season knowing that two of the best teams in the league from last year, the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder, were going to be without their best players. Pacers All-Star Paul George gruesomely broke his leg playing in an exhibition game for Team USA's preparations for the FIBA World Cup. George will not play this season, no matter what he says. The Pacers had the East's best record last season but obviously were going to take a huge step back without George and the loss of free-agent swingman Lance Stephenson to Charlotte. And indeed the Pacers don't look like a playoff team in the early going, entering Tuesday at 1-2 (2-1 ATS at sportsbooks). That's not likely to change. Actually the Pacers have been a decent NBA pick on the 'over' totals at sportsbooks thus far because the offense hasn't been quite as bad as expected without George but the defense much worse.
Ironically, Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant pulled out of the World Cup because of George's injury, Durant recently confided. However, that didn't stop Durant from suffering a fractured foot that was more the result of wear and tear than one specific instance. He's going to miss at least the next six weeks. OK, the Thunder knew that. Then, OKC lost fellow superstar Russell Westbrook to a broken hand in the season opener and he could miss six weeks. That was devastating. Now Oklahoma City looks like one of the worst teams in the NBA and is going to struggle in a big-time way offensively. On Monday, the Thunder totaled just 85 points in a 31-point setback at Brooklyn, the Thunder's biggest defeat since April 2009. OKC remains the +105 favorite to win the Northwest Division at NBA odds from BetFair but has risen to +600 to win the West and +1200 to win the NBA title. The Thunder simply won't be a good nightly bet until their star duo returns.
Bad Teams Worse Than Thought?
It was widely accepted that the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic were going to be the worst two teams in the Eastern Conference this season and that the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and L.A. Lakers would bring up the rear in the West. So far, all has been spot-on accurate.
Philadelphia is making no secret of its tanking strategy and was given a wins total of a scant 16.5 at sportsbooks. That might be generous, and the NBA record of 73 losses could be in play. The 76ers are not just 0-4 (1-3 ATS at sportsbooks), they have lost all of them by double digits. It's a truly wretched offensive team with guys named Tony Wroten (19.3 ppg) and Brandon Davies (10.8 ppg) leading the team in scoring. That's laughable. There might be a bit of help on the horizon as 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams could return in a week or so from offseason shoulder surgery.
Orlando entered Tuesday at 0-3 with two blowout losses and one by seven points. The Magic are still looking to score 100 in a game and hold a team to less than triple digits. Orlando has played thus far without 2013 No. 2 overall pick Victor Oladipo due to a facial fracture. He should return in late November. The Magic and 76ers play Wednesday. It's must-avoid TV!
The Timberwolves of course traded Kevin Love this offseason and are going with a youth movement. They actually are 3-0 ATS through three games and have very acceptable close defeats to very good teams Memphis and Chicago. Flip Saunders has the Wolves playing hard. Utah is 1-3 but has played a very tough early schedule, and it doesn't get any easier against NBA championship favorite Cleveland on Wednesday.
Then you have Kobe Bryant's Lakers, one of the two most storied franchises in the NBA. They were given a wins total of 32.5 on NBA odds before the season and I recommended 'under.' That's looking smart with L.A. at 0-4 entering Tuesday, failing to cover three of the four losses. The Lakers are last in the league in defense and Bryant has very little help offensively. When your second- and third-leading scorers are Jordan Hill and Ed Davis, you have problems. L.A. does.
Warriors Right Not to Trade Thompson
Golden State could have acquired Minnesota's Love had the Warriors opted to give up young shooting guard Klay Thompson in a package, but Golden State declined. That was panned by most around the NBA because Love is on any Top-10 player list. Thompson is good but not considered a star. That could be changing. The Warriors are 3-0 (3-0 ATS at sportsbooks) and Thompson leads the NBA in scoring at 29.7 points per game.
Thompson's backcourt mate Stephen Curry is also having an MVP-caliber start by averaging 25.3 points, 7.0 assists and 6.7 rebounds. The Warriors haven't even played this season yet with injured starting power forward David Lee, who was in that rumored Love trade proposal. He could debut Wednesday in a big game against the Clippers. Golden State is now +650 at NBA odds to win the West.