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NBA Scoring is way down through the first 2 weeks. Scoring is down 6 points per 100 possessions to be exact. What is causing such a significant drop?
NBA officiating and rule changes trying to eliminate the “non-basketball play” fouls are definitely playing a huge factor. Foul calls are slightly down on the year but free throws are significantly down. So far the NBA is down 2.2 FT makes/game vs last season, and down 6.2 FT attempts/game vs the last pre-covid season. The incentive on refs not to call the classic James Harden/Trae Young contact drawing/flopping and 3 point shot foul has definitely had an effect on FTA and thus on scoring. The eye test also tells me the refs are letting defense play more, hand checking and physical defense is more common and more effective. Finally, I think having full stadiums of fans plays a part in the slow scoring start.
What does this scoring start to the year mean for betting? Unders have covered 62.7% of the time (59-35) through the first two weeks. Now early into week 3 bookmakers are starting to adjust. Last year the average game total was 224.1, through the first 2 weeks of this season it was 223.1 and in week 3 the average has dropped to 219.1. That is a full 4 and 5 point adjustment. I would lean toward overs now after such an adjustment.
Rookies have been hooping! My guy Scottie Barnes looks awesome. Trust Masai! He is much further along than I expected offensively, his freaky athleticism and length makes him very versatile on both ends of the floor, he has great play-making instincts and has been knocking down mid-range jumpers. He looks like he could be a franchise player for the Raps. Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, Josh Giddy, Mo Wagner and Chris Duarte are all also playing very well. This looks to be a strong rookie class.
1. Utah +8
2. Miami +6.5
3. Brooklyn +6.5
4. Denver +4.5
5. Golden State +4.5
6. Phoenix +4
7. Lakers +3.5
8. Philly +3.5
9. Atlanta +3
10. Milwaukee +3
11. Dallas +2.5
12. NY +2.5
13. Memphis +2
14. Charlotte +2
15. Chicago +2
16. LAC +1
17. Washington +0.5
18. Toronto 0
19. Boston 0
20. Portland -0.5
21. Cleveland -0.5
22. Indiana -1
23. Minnesota -1.5
24. SAC -1.5
25. San Antonio -2
26. New Orleans -4.5
27. Detroit -5.5
28. Houston -5.5
29. Orlando -6
30. OKC -7.5
Miami – Miami looks great to start the year. They are leading the league in point differential at +16.7. I loved their roster coming into the year for a playoff run but wasn’t sure if they would bring it every game in the regular season. It certainly looks like they will. Lowry is a great floor general on both ends of the floor. He takes some of the play making burden off of Jimmy Butler offensively, this has seemed to free up Jimmy and he’s been very efficient to start the year 25ppg, 7rpg, 6apg and shooting 51.3%. Tyler Herro has taken a huge leap and is playing like he did in the Bubble, coming off the bench and filling it up averaging 23ppg. The other additions in Tucker and Morris add defense, rebounding and 3 point shooting. This team is so deep defensively that they almost always have 4 plus defenders on the floor with Robinson and Herro who are not plus, but work hard at it. This team has also benefited from the officiating changes, they can match any team physically in the league. I was relatively high on Miami to start the year but have still upgraded them 2.5 points.
Golden State – another 2.5 point upgrade in my ratings since the start of the season. They are 5th in point differential at +7.8. They have played great at both ends of the floor, 6th in points against defensively. The rule changes have certainly helped them as well. They play tough physical defense led by Draymond who has been playing well and offensively they don’t rely on much iso scoring. They move the ball and move without the ball so well. Steph is also just ridiculous and probably the favorite to win MVP through 2 weeks. I’ve been impressed with Jordan Poole, Damien Lee and Bejilica in their roles. Poole is a solid second scorer even though he hasn’t shot it well the confidence in his game is evident. They haven’t played the toughest schedule yet so let’s not go crazy but they do still have Klay and Wiseman injured and waiting to return. GS could be really good by the time playoffs come around.
Indiana – I don’t have a great explanation for what’s going on with Indiana. Something just seems off within their group. I actually like their roster and think Carlisle is a great coach so I expected much better from this team. They didn’t like their coach last year and got him fired. Carlisle is a tough coach, maybe this team just can’t take hard coaching? They do have some injuries but they should be better. I have dropped them 2 points in my power ratings.
Boston – I have dropped Boston 2.5 points from last week after a terrible week of outcomes. They have really struggled in crunch time and defensively. They are the 30th ranked defense in points against. This team used to be so good defensively under Stevens. Their new coach seems to have some growing pains and the rotation hasn’t worked yet. Marcus Smart called out Tatum and Brown to the media for their crunch time play and not moving the ball, warranted or not this is not a great look. They do seem to be a “take turns” iso team which is not the way they played when they had that run in the Eastern Conference a few years ago. I don’t think this Marcus Smart stuff just goes away. There is some dysfunction in this group that’s concerning and Brad Stevens may need to make a trade.
Milwaukee - down 4 points, but strictly due to injuries.
Off to a solid start to the year 16-10 so far on NBA bets and 7-3 this week. I had a tough L on that Boston +2.5 pick in double OT and I was on vacation so missed on the opening line of the NY vs Chicago game I had circled and mentioned in my post last week. By the time I saw it the line moved from +4 to +1.5 so I stayed away but NY ended up winning outright anyways. I think my power ratings and feel for the league has been strong so far through a couple weeks. Lets keep it rolling.
Tonight I am on Denver +1.5 – This is the second Denver vs Memphis game, in Memphis, in 3 days, a back-to-back set. Denver played horrible in game 1 offensively averaging 1 point per possession. Memphis is one of the worst defensive teams in the league right now so I would be surprised to see that continue and expect a bounce back from Denver. Additionally, I like playing the team that lost the first game in the second game of these situations, especially when they are the better team in the matchup. It is tough to beat the same team in consecutive games. I make this game a Denver -1/pick and getting +1.5 with this advantageous situation I will take all day. Memphis has had a great start to the year and Ja is hooping but this is a tough spot for them to beat a good Denver team in back to back games. I have got some Closing Line Value here as well with it moving to a pick em.
Leaned Portland -3.5, it was an advantageous spot for them coming of a humiliating loss to Philly and Cleveland coming home after a long 5 game road trip. That scheduling spot was cooked into the line though so I stayed away. I have Cleveland and Portland close to equal teams right now and Portland favored by 3.5 on the road shows that scheduling advantage. Now Love and Markkanen are out with covid protocols and the line has ballooned up to -5.5. Missed opportunity on this one but Portland could be a good Moneyline play.
Lean Orlando +6.5 as a play against this Boston dysfunction. I make this line 4.5 but I just can’t get there with a ticket. It’s difficult to handicap what Marcus Smarts comments will inspire out of Boston. They could come out motivated and blow out Orlando or continue with the dysfunction.
Lean Raps +3.5 – I may end up betting this one but I am 0-2 on Raps picks so far so I might be too close to them and not seeing it as well. They are 3-1 ATS in their last four and are playing much better. They should be one of the teams to take advantage of how the refs are calling the games defensively and if they can continue to put up points like the last few games will be tough to beat. They are also in a similar situation to Denver playing a team they lost to recently. If Scottie Barnes was playing I would feel much better about this game.