Teams To Buy
Miami: The Heat came into the season as the defending 2020 eastern conference champions and went into the NBA All-Star break as winners of seven of their last eight. Head coach Eric Spoelstra has this team playing well after a slow start to the 2021 regular season, and I look for them to move up in the standings against weaker competition. Miami has the second easiest strength of schedule moving forward, and this club has high motivation to make another run with the upstart Brooklyn Nets looming.
Dallas: The Mavericks, just like the aforementioned Miami Heat, also started out the season very slow, as Luka Doncic and company came in out of shape and seemingly not ready to play. But they went into the All-Star break winners of 5 of their last 6. Dallas finally now has a healthy roster with Kristaps Porzingis back in the lineup and also has the fifth easiest strength of schedule in the league moving forward.
Toronto: The Raptors have been at or near the top of the NBA's Eastern Conference for the last 5+ years, and it seems like they are just now learning to adjust and adapt to life in their new Tampa home. Toronto went into the All-Star break winning 5 of their last 7 and boast the seventh easiest strength of schedule for the rest of the season. The Raptors also play a lot of key games at their "home" in the second half of the season and are currently the 8th seed in the east with motivation to bolster their playoff position.
Boston: The Celtics, as we all know, have frankly stunk all season long despite having two all-stars in Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum. But the C's won four straight going into the break, and Marcus Smart will be returning soon. Boston also has the third easiest strength of schedule the rest of the way and have proven to be true title contenders over the last few seasons. Sure, the C's lost their first game after All-Star weekend to the Nets, but don't let that distract you from the fact they have added motivation to earn home court advantage in the playoffs and their best two players are only getting better from here.
Golden State: The Warriors currently sit one spot out in 9th place in the NBA's Western Conference standing, and after missing the playoffs last year, both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green want to right the ship and show the world that Kevin Durant moving on to Brooklyn didn’t matter. Draymond was banged up in the first half of the season as well, but looking towards the second half of the 2020-21 campaign the Warriors play a relatively easy schedule overall and close out the year with six straight home games. They lost their first game out of the break to the Clippers, but again, we're looking to pick our spots here and take advantage that Golden State is both 12-6 at home and 10-2 against teams below .500.
Teams to Fade
Charlotte: The Hornets were on fire in the first half of the 2020-21 season and won betters a lot of money in the process. Keep in mind though that LaMelo Ball played his "college" years/pro ball in Lithuania and has never played anything close to an 82-game schedule. I expect this team to tire a bit in the second half, as they have the nine hardest strength of schedule the rest of the way. The public is already singing Charlotte's praises too, and the sportsbooks will take note of this team exceeding those expectations. The Hornets beat Detroit in their first game off the break, but remember, this is a club that beats the teams they need to be beat, as evidenced by their 7-11 record vs. +.500 teams and 11-7 record vs. -.500 teams.
Houston: I hate to break it to you, Houston fans, but your team is tanking. The Rockets don’t want their fans to see it either, which is why they would decide to retire James Harden's jersey within two months of him leaving tow. This team is looking for the #1 pick or something close to it, and in addition to that they also have the hardest strength of schedule for the the rest of the season with no motivation to boot. The Rockets lost by 20 to the lowly Kings in their first game off the break, and I expect more of the same.
New York: The Knicks have been a surprise team this year, sure, but they have mostly feasted on bad teams along the way. They get dominated in the second half of games though, although coach Thibodeau has this team at least playing extra hard during the first half of games. This is probably the where you should look to be betting on this team. Coach Thibs is seemingly out-coached in the second half of games due to a lack of adjustments, however, and with the third hardest strength of schedule remaining and high public backing right now, I will look to fade this team in the second half of the season, especially ATS.
Los Angeles (Lakers): Yes, I know it’s hard to fade the defending champion L.A. Lakers. But they have the eighth hardest strength of schedule remaining, Anthony Davis is injured, and both the overall market and the sportsbooks are still too high on LeBron's bunch. They will win a lot of games, sure, but in games where they have to get margin ATS, it will be tough. The Lakers have shown a lack of motivation in the first half of games with a whopping 14-18 ATS record before halftime. This is most liklely not a team that will consistently get margin ATS the rest of the way, and they will also play the majority of their remaining games on the road. With California COVID-19 restrictions tighter than other states, it's also doubtful to expect that this team will have any meaningful fan attendance in the second half of the season.
San Antonio: The Spurs currently sit in the 7th seed in the west and have a very tough schedule the rest of the way. While I look for Greg Popovich to keep them in a lot of game, I will likely look to fade them as favorites in most situations. San Antonio has the sixth hardest strength of schedule in the second half and rumors have it the team is looking to trade away LaMarcus Aldridge, and maybe even DeMar DeRozan.