It’s a decision every handicapper has to make at the NBA All-Star Break. Can we keep expecting these good ATS teams to keep covering the spread regularly? If not, will the sportsbooks overcorrect on some of them? By taking a look back at last season’s best ATS teams, we can kind of guess which ones will continue to be good tails and which ones are fades over the last third of the season.
Last season the Golden State Warriors were the best bet in basketball at 59-45-2 ATS overall in the regular season and the playoffs. During just the regular season they were 45-35-2 ATS, but after the All-Star Break they were only 14-15-1 ATS.
However, they aren’t the greatest example simply because they are a really good team. A better case study for this season might be the second half of the Orlando Magic last season. Orlando was 29-22-1 ATS at the break and finished 16-14 ATS to go 45-36-1 ATS on the year. They were one of only three teams last season to finish the regular and postseason (if applicable) cashing at a rate of 54 percent or higher, and they continued to be undervalued last season even after a solid first half ATS.
The Mavericks were a bit of a different story. They were a playoff team last season at 42-40 SU, but after starting the season 31-24 ATS they finished 16-15-1 ATS after the All-Star Break if you include their first round playoff exit to the Spurs. It was at its worse right after the All Star Break, as the Mavs went 3-7-1 ATS in their first 11 games after the break.
Two seasons ago, there were a ton of great ATS teams that cashed at a rate above 54 percent. The Celtics, Pelicans, Jazz and Bucks were all not expected to be great teams, but they were great ATS plays and most of them were pretty consistent ATS throughout the season -- before and after the break. This is likely because most people didn't think they were as good as they actually were.
However, the Bucks fell off after the All-Star Break that season at 13-20-2, but other than that the other three teams kept up their covering. Take a look at the Jazz's, Pelicans' and Celtics’ post All-Star Break ATS records in 2014-2015.
Jazz 17-11-2 ATS
Pelicans 19-14 ATS
Celtics 20-11 ATS
These were either bottom tier playoff teams or lottery teams. The Hawks fell apart ATS after the All-Star Break that season at 19-24-1 ATS if you include the playoffs. They were 13-12-1 ATS right before the playoffs started, but they went 6-12 ATS in the playoffs because they finally started to be overvalued.
The Rockets were the only real outliers other than the Bucks. Houston ended up as the No. 2 2 seed that season, but they are unique. No one expected them to get that far and a lot of their post-All Star Break ATS success on NBA picks came in their run through the playoffs. They were 28-18 ATS after the All-Star Break and they actually had a stronger ATS showing after the break compared to a 30-23 ATS start to the year.
Sixers To Keep Covering
So, if you keep in mind the pattern that seems to be established in the NBA, we can pretty accurately predict who is going to be better in the last part of the season. It seems like undervalued and/or lottery teams that are good ATS will continue to be that way, while the playoff teams or really elite teams that also cover a lot will start to see a decline -- or be a complete fade post-All Star Break. Below is a list of the best ATS teams so far in the first half that are covering at a rate of 54 percent or better this season.
76ers 34-22 ATS
Wizards 32-23 ATS
Heat 32-24-1 ATS
Rockets 33-25 ATS
Spurs 31-24-1 ATS
Raptors 31-25-1 ATS
Thunder 31-25-1 ATS
Currently, five of these seven teams are playoff teams, but of those five the Thunder and Wizards have been pretty undervalued this season. No one expected the Wizards to take the leap this season and many thought that the loss of Kevin Durant would cripple the Thunder.
So, it makes since these teams have been undervalued most of the season. Plus, they might still be undervalued in the season half, so when it comes to these two I’d keep tailing if the price is right on most nights.
Taking a look at historically good ATS teams can help with this as well. Since 2010, the Spurs have a cash rate of 54.7%. Since 2005, both the Thunder and Spurs are cashing at above 52%.
However, some of these other teams are not on the list. The Raptors fumbled their way into the All-Star Break, and I don’t think the acquisition of Serge Ibaka is going to help them terribly ATS after the break. They should see their ATS prospects decline in the latter part of the year.
The Heat have outperformed expectations, but if you take away their 13-game SU winning streak where they went 12-1 ATS, they would be well below .500 ATS. Plus, nine of those wins came against non-playoff teams, so the Heat look like a fade over the last half.
That leaves the Rockets and Sixers. I think people are coming around to the fact that the Rockets are good this season. They opened the year 24-10 ATS and went 10-13 ATS since Jan. 1. They should be a solid fade over the last half of the season if they are still overvalued on most nights. They have been pretty bad against the East too at 12-14 ATS this season.
The Sixers are the best for last, though. If Joel Embiid stays healthy and the Sixers avoid tanking until the very end of the season, they should continue to be a great tail. They are 20-7 ATS as a home dog this season and that is where the real money is. They are 34-20 ATS this season as an underdog overall and they are 20-13 ATS against the East.
Philly has at least six or seven more games left this season where it should be an underdog at home regardless of Embiid’s status. The Sixers are 14-11 ATS this season without Embiid and they went 7-4 ATS in the most recent stretch of games he has missed. I expect that to continue in the second half unless they fall out of contention for the No. 8 seed in the East. Right now they are only 5 ½ games out.Bet On NBA Futures At SBR Forum's Top Sportsbooks