The first half of the NBA season is in the books, so now is a good time to look back and see what was learned from a betting point of view. I'm going to break down the most profitable teams, which teams were money burners, as well as other odds and ends.
Most Profitable Teams
Utah Jazz (27-9 SU) (25-11 ATS) -This should come as no surprise, but the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz has been the most profitable team through the first half of the season. Utah has the league's best point differential (+8.8) after starting the season 4-4 straight up, and the Jazz rattled off an 11-game winning streak followed by a 9-game winning streak. Heading into the break, Utah has lost three of their last four games, and all four games were on the road. Utah starts the second half of the season with a home game versus the lowly Houston Rockets, then they go on the road for five straight, with stops in Golden State, Boston, Washington, Toronto and Chicago. Then they come home for a showdown with the Brooklyn Nets -- we'll find out what the Jazz are made of during this stretch.
Phoenix Suns (24-11 SU) (24-11 ATS) - The Phoenix Suns are currently the second seed in the Western Conference, as their great play from the bubble has carried over to the new season. Head Coach Monte Williams should be the front runner for Coach of the Year honors. Outside of losing three out of four games in mid-to-late January, Phoenix has been very consistent. The Suns' most impressive victories of the first half of the season came against Utah, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. In late March, the Suns go on a four-game southeast road trip, and they will likely be road favorites in all four games. The Suns' schedule really gets tough in late April when they go on a four-game road trip that includes stops in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Boston, Brooklyn and New York, and then they come home for back-to-back games vs. the Jazz and Clippers.
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New York Knicks (19-18 SU) (21-16 ATS) - The Garden is rocking, well maybe I shouldn't go that far, but hey, it's better than it has been. Head Coach Tom Thibodeau has changed the culture with the Knicks, they are great defensively, Julius Randle is an All-Star and forever-pessimistic Knicks fans are actually feeling good. The Knicks have taken advantage of their home court, going 11-7 ATS and SU at the Garden. If the Knicks plan on being a playoff team this season, it will come down to a 6-game road trip to start the month of May when they visit Houston, Memphis, Denver, Phoenix and then back-to-back game vs. the Clippers and the Lakers. The Knicks are also the second most profitable team to the under this season, going 14-23 to the total.
Money Burning Teams
Houston Rockets (11-23 SU) (11-23 ATS) - The loss of James Harden has really hurt the Rockets, as they enter the All-Star break on a 13-game losing streak, and they have not won a game in over a calendar month -- Feb. 4 to be exact. Houston does play a lot of home games in the second half of the season, but they have been terrible at home going 3-12 ATS, so auto-fading the Rockets could be a very profitable strategy in the second half of the season. Houston was the most profitable team to the under in the first half of the season going 13-20-1 to the total.
Indiana Pacers (16-19 SU) (14-21ATS) - I honestly did not expect the see the Pacers in this spot, but hindsight being 20/20, I can see why. Domantas Sabonis has been great this season, but with T.J. Warren injured and Victor Oladipo in Houston, the Pacers have no closer outside of Sabonis. That could change in the second half of the season when Caris LeVert returns. LeVert joined the Pacers as part of the James Harden trade, but when he went through his physical, a small cancerous mass was detected on his left kidney. Thankfully, LeVert will rejoin the Pacers in March, and when he does, I expect the Pacers to play better basketball. I can see them being a profitable team in the second half of the season as a undervalued dog.
Minnesota Timberwolves (7-29) (14-21-1) - Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards may have the highlight of the first half of the season, but nothing else has gone well for the Timberwolves so far this year. Karl Anthony-Towns has missed time due to injuries and COVID-19, and D'Angelo Russell is currently out rehabbing from knee surgery. There are all kinds of issues in Minnesota, and I don't see things getting better in the second half of the season -- I will continue to fade them.
Odds and Ends
- Underdogs have a slight edge so far this season going 271-255-7 ATS
- Road Underdogs are 160-143-4 ATS
- Overs are 276-254-3 on the season.
- The New Orleans Pelicans are the most profitable team to the Over at 25-10-1
- The Oklahoma City Thunder are the most profitable road team at 13-6 ATS