Sweet Spots Of The Week: Top NBA Picks For The New Year

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Jay Pryce

Sunday, December 31, 2017 1:56 PM GMT

Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 1:56 PM GMT

The New Year is here, which means the NBA schedule will hit the halfway point for most teams this week. Now is the best time to begin considering regression to the mean when handicapping and number crunching. Here are several angles with this theme for some key upcoming matchups, including the Warriors at Rockets and Trail Blazers at Cavaliers.

Monday, January 1

Bucks at Raptors (7:30 p.m. ET)

Toronto is 13-1 SU and 9-5 ATS at Air Canada Centre this season, covering the spread in four straight. What’s amazing is that it is 8-2 ATS when laying 8 points or more on the NBA oddsboard. Only the Warriors have as many covers at home, doing so with nine extra games under their belt. What’s significant here is that the average margin of victory in the NBA is 7 points. The number is growing inflated. Expect future Raptors home victories to be slightly tighter moving forward, starting with the Bucks. Milwaukee will go off significant underdogs in this matchup. It has lost just four of 16 road games by more than 7 points this season.

Tuesday, January 2

Trail Blazers at Cavaliers (7 p.m. ET)

Cleveland is 1-15-2 at ATS Quicken Loans Arena in 2017. No team in the modern era has lost more than 27.5 percent against the spread at home on the season, which means at worst the Cavs should go at least 50/50 from here on out. LeBron James and crew are growing closer to the number, failing to cover four of their last five home games by no more than a bucket in each. Expect the results to start falling on the other side of the fence soon, beginning with a visit by the Trail Blazers. Portland is 5-12 SU versus teams with a winning record this year, averaging just 98.8 points per game.

Wednesday, January 3

Thunder at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET)

The Thunder, tied for fifth choice (+2100) to win the NBA Finals in the preseason, are just 6-11 SU and 5-12 ATS on the road. Poor shooting is the issue, averaging 100.3 points per game on 42.0 percent from the floor. Look for these figures to go up in the second half of the season with the All-Star trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony featuring. What better place to start than the Staples Center against a leaky Lakers defense. L.A., riddled with injuries, is gifting 114.2 points per 100 possessions over its last five played as of publication. The Thunder top the number here with ease.

Thursday, January 4

Warriors at Rockets (8 p.m. ET)

The Warriors have two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry back in the lineup after missing nearly a month due to a high-ankle sprain. The timing could not be better. Since 2014, Curry owns the Rockets, going 15-3 SU and 11-6-1 ATS. When the line is in single-digit territory, the betting record improves to 8-2-1, covering a -4.1 spread by 9.6 points per game. Expect a similar line in this matchup. Rockets point guard Chris Paul could be back, missing the last few games with a sore groin. However, it might not be enough to slow Curry.

Friday, January 5

Knicks at Heat (8 p.m. ET)

One has to go back to last March to uncover the last time both the Heat and an Atlantic division opponent scored 100 points or more at American Airlines Arena. The average combined score in the last 10 games under these conditions is 195.1 points. The ‘under’ is 8-2, the final tally staying 9.7 points south of a 204.8 game total. In six matchups this season, at least one team has put up 90 points or fewer in five of six. Gritty, ugly basketball reigns in this spot. Lean ‘under’ the total here.

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