As we approach the midpoint of the NBA season, this is a good time to examine the totals. There are many factors from a disability perspective that go into understanding totals. Team defense, training, a dominant shot blocking the big man, home court can all be factors when looking down. Things like training philosophy, youth, and depth need to be taken into account when trying to identify overs.
Let’s take a look at this season’s standout team: Seattle. The Sonics started 29-11 on total. Talk about a handicap bias! That’s nearly three out of every four Seattle games that exceed the total. Why is this? This is a case where an aberration is not occurring, as there are several reasons for this. First, this is not a happy team. Remember that coach Nate McMillan got these guys through last season, but he went to Portland. A new coach came on board and a lot of things fell apart, so much so that he was fired and assistant Bob Hill is the new head coach. McMillan’s ability to get these guys to play team-oriented basketball and defense hasn’t materialized with the new coaches this season.
Also, they have decent undersized forwards who can bounce, but not great bodies that act as defensive deterrents. What you’re left with is a bunch of scorers who, in essence, want the ball. Seattle’s defense has been a joke all season, currently allowing 105 points per game and .495% shots from opponents. Both are the worst brands in the NBA. This is not something that is likely to change anytime soon.
I also mentioned youth as a factor. This is the case with Toronto and Boston, two teams that are rebuilding around a large number of young draft picks. They both have good offenses but serious defensive weaknesses. Note that Toronto allows 103 points per game on the road where they started 13-8 over the total. The Celtics allow 107 points per game on the road where they started 13-7 over the total. Due to their youth, this is a trend that is more likely to continue than that of them suddenly starting to play much improved defense, especially on the road.
Other times, teams can change mid-season. The young Cavaliers have been working on defense since mid-December, and coaches and players have admitted that has been happening. Note that Cleveland is 10-3 short of total this week.
The philosophy of coaching is also an important reason. The Detroit Pistons went from being a strangled defensive team under Larry Brown in recent years, to one that’s more relaxed and open offensively under new coach Flip Saunders, who has given this veteran team more freedom to be creative offensively. The new Pistons are 13-6 over the total on the road.
The Spurs still have a tough defense under head coach Gregg Popovich, who also still has the tools on the court to pull it off with blocks like Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen. San Antonio is 15-6 under the total at home, after being outstanding defensively at home also last season. Memphis head coach Mike Fratello preaches tough defense, and the Grizzlies are 14-5 below home total, allowing just 84 points per game.
Two NBA teams are suffering offensive problems this season due to a lack of offensive options. Indiana has been plagued with injuries and a suspension and they are 14-7 under the road total. Minnesota is still looking for a third offensive option for Kevin Garnett and Wally Szcerbiak, and that’s reflected in their 22-16 start under total.
And sometimes, it’s just the place. Denver continues to play its best offense at home, in part because visiting teams aren’t used to nothing. Denver averages 106 points per game at home, where it started 14-8 over total. Understanding all facets of totals, offense, defense, and team strengths and weaknesses can help sports bettors identify tangible trends to anticipate winning betting opportunities.