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For the complete spreadsheet version of my updated NBA 2021 Power Ratings, which include each team's net rating, offensive rating, defensive rating, current record and more, just click here to view the full sheet.
In order to create a betting line between two of the teams listed below, simply find the difference between the two teams' power rating and give the home team an additional 1.5 points for home court advantage (HCA). Example: the Los Angeles Lakers play the Golden State Warriors in L.A., and the Lakers are 6 points better according to the power ratings. The Lakers are also home, which is worth 1.5 points. The line in this case should be Lakers -7.5 (6 points added for PR difference, plus 1.5 points added for HCA). Each week I will also highlight notable movements between teams and their new power rating scores listed below:
Milwaukee Bucks - Current: 6, Last: 6.5, Start: 6.5
The Bucks no longer seem to have the big bad bully effect they've enjoyed across the east over the past few years. Despite missing their best player in Trae Young, the Atlanta Hawks had no problem erasing an early deficit and pulling away late against Milwaukee on Sunday. And despite adding All-NBA defender Jrue Holiday in the off-season, the Bucks defense has fallen from #1 in the NBA to #9. Is it just a effort thing? Are the Bucks preparing to change their playoff legacy this spring? Bucks fans should hope so – because while Milwaukee's offense is good (#4 in the league), it's not enough by itself to get past Philly/Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Nets - Current: 6, Last: 1.5, Start: 4.5
Probably the greatest H.O.R.S.E. player to ever walk the earth, KD needs no warm up to get his flamethrower going. In only 133 minutes played since returning from a calf strain (over 6 games and 3 weeks) KD has shot 64% from the field and 64% from range (14-22) - that's a 78% true shooting clip, which would shatter the all-time record of 70% set by Tyson Chandler in 2012 and Artis Gilmore in 1982.
Phoenix Suns - Current: 5.5, Last: 5.5, Start: 2
I wrote more than a thousand words last week here on the Betting Predators website about how awesome Chris Paul is at not turning the ball over (career low 2.1 turnovers per game, number one in the NBA in Assist-to-Turnover Ratio, etc) You already know what then happens -10 turnovers in his next two games, both losses. Ten turnovers is as many as he had had in his nine previous games combined. If anything, the immediate reversal underscores my point. The Suns have done so much better than expectation this season, and Paul has been a wizard keeping this offense on track without getting dispossessed. We now see, however, that once the turnovers start happening, so do the losses.
Philadelphia 76ers Current - 5.5, Last: 5.5, Start: 2.5
Joel Embiid played well while three of his fellow starters (PG Ben Simmons, PF Tobias Harris, and SG Seth Curry) were all in and out of the lineup throughout the last week with various ailments. Embiid didn't play well enough, however, for the Sixers to the maintain their #1 slot in the East. This is what's now at stake: If the Sixers get the #1 seed, they will be around a -400 favorite vs. the Hawks or Heat in Round 2. If the Sixers get the #2 seed, I believe they'll about a PK (maybe -120) in Round 2 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks.
Miami Heat - Current: 3.5, Last: 4, Start: 4
Miami lost as significant road favorites to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, and having Jimmy Butler back didn't make a difference. That game all went a long way into settling the Southeast Division though, with the Hawks now sitting in the catbird seat. Atlanta is now -400 favorites to finish ahead of the Heat.
Utah Jazz - Current: 3.5, Last: 3.5, Start: 2.5
The market didn't downgrade the Utah Jazz as much as I did for the Donovan Mitchell injury (I valued Mitchell about two points higher than the market, to be exact). Well, let's now take a quick look at the Jazz ATS margin over their four games without Mitchell - yep, exactly -2.0 points - aka undeniable proof.
Denver Nuggets - Current: 3, Last: 3, Start: 3.5
The Nuggets won their first four games after star PG Jamal Murray went down with a season-ending injury. The adrenaline of the team stepping up without him would seem to have a shelf life though, and indeed the Nuggets looked lackluster in the second half of a blowout loss to the much hungrier Warriors.
L.A. Clippers - Current: 2.5, Last: 7, Start: 5.5
When Paul George and Kawhi Leonard sit, and the L.A. Clippers still erase a 15-point deficit to top the red hot Memphis Grizzlies - it's time to start giving coach Lue his due. And it goes to show you: there is life after being the victim of the coldest crossover in NBA Finals history (h/t Allen "The Answer" Iverson).
Dallas Mavericks - Current: 2.5, Last: 2.5, Start: 1.5
With two crucial wins over the Los Angeles Lakers this past week, the Mavericks are now 3.5 games up on the 7th seeded Portland Trail Blazers and can breathe easier about avoiding the play-in tournament.
Portland Blazers - Current: 2, Last: 2.5, Start: 1.5
The Blazers have now lost five straight - apparently getting your second and third best players back in action is trickier than you'd think. Damian Lillard has cooled way off since his mid-season heroics, too - post-All Star Lillard is shooting only 42% from the field after hovering over 45% most of the season.
Boston Celtics - Current: 2, Last: 2, Start: 4
Just when Kemba Walker was back in his bag and the Boston Celtics felt like the 2020 Eastern Conference finalist Celtics again... Boston gets blown out wire-to-wire by Walker's old team, the Charlotte Hornets.
L.A. Lakers - Current: 2, Last: -2, Start: 6.5
Anthony Davis looks bad - really bad. It's only two games, sure, but Davis looks tentative and soft while shooting 24% from the field and missing all seven of his three-point attempts since he's been back. A major question mark also remains here - can Davis penetrate with the same consistency and tenacity while playing alongside fellow big man Andre Drummond, who is accustomed to clogging the paint?
NY Knicks - Current: 2, Last: 1, Start: -7
These New York Knicks have won 12 in a row ATS, and during their streak, they've both maintained their elite defense (ranked third best on the season per Cleaning the Glass, only behind UTA and LAL) and have improved their offense (which has been ranked fourth best in the league during their streak (Per CTG) as well. Over their last 12, the Knicks on average have also scored 10 points per game better than the Las Vegas market had expected. Two reasons I see as to why this Knicks offense has improved, too - 1.) Julius Randle's continued improvement as both a shooter and playmaker. (Randle is currently -500 to win the NBA's Most Improved Player Award) and 2.) Derrick Rose's continued integration into the offfense.
GS Warriors - Current: 1.5, Last: 1.5, Start: -1
In 13 games so far in April, Steph Curry has put up the following numbers: 38 PPG, five three-pointers made per game and 72% true shooting. Historic production & efficiency, when his team needed it the most (to reach their goal of making the playoffs), is MVP quality stuff, even if it's too little, too late for Curry.
Memphis Grizzlies - Current: 1.5, Last: 1, Start: -3
All signs are looking golden for head coach Taylor Jenkins' young squad. The Grizzlies have been the fourth best team so far in April by Net Rating, punctuated over the weekend with back-to-back big wins over the Portland Trail Blazers - yes, the same Blazers kept them out of last year's playoffs via a play-in game.
Indiana Pacers - Current: 0.5, Last: 0.5, Start: 1
It can't be a great thing for the Indiana Pacers brass that their controversially-dismissed head coach of four years found instant success once he became the interim head coach of the now surging Atlanta Hawks. Now the Pacers seem to be underperforming to their talent, all the while Nate McMillan, just like he did for years in Indy - is once again leading a gritty group to be more than the sum of its parts.
New Orleans Pelicans - Current: 0, Last: 0, Start: 0
Since the NBA All-Star break, Zion Williamson is scoring 29 PPG on 62% shooting. Is this is an aberration, or is this is who we can expect to watch for the next 10+ years? Also, can it translate to winning? Of course it can – pair Zion up with two other elite players at their positions, and I’m sure he’ll do fine. Will the Pelicans earn team success any time soon? Now that's another question entirely. The struggle will always be pairing Zion with another big that can make up for Williamson's defensive limitations and without clogging the paint on the offensive end. If Zion ever becomes an elite, Draymond-like, multi-purpose defender, then this problem instantly gets solved and Zion's team instantly gets a whole lot better.
San Antonio Spurs - Current: -0.5, Last: -0.5, Start: -2
The Spurs' amazing 22-year run of qualifying for the playoffs ended last season in the bubble. Now they're highly likely to have at least the chance to get back in the playoffs come mid-May. There's a currently a major gap between the 6th seed and 7th seed, and between the 10th seed and 11th seed, meaning that it's highly likely the four western teams in the play-in tournament will be POR, MEM, GSW and SAS.
Atlanta Hawks - Current: -0.5, Last: 2, Start: 0
The red-hot Atlanta Hawks finished the weekend 2-0 after big wins against two conference rivals in the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks, all despite not having their star PG Trae Young, who will be out for some time with an ankle sprain. Since head coach Nate McMillan took over for Lloyd Pierce on March 1st, this young Hawks squad has the second best record in the NBA at 20-7 (only behind the Denver Nuggets).
Washington Wizards - Current: -1, Last: -1.5, Start: -2
The Washington Wizards started this season losing five games in a row as they struggled to incorporate the dynamo that is Russell Westbrook into their offense with SG Bradley Beal. Things look a whole lot better now though, as Washington has reeled off eight straight wins as of late, in addition to covering the spread each time in the process. During this run the Wizards have been +3 points better on offense than the Vegas market expected, too, and +4.3 points better on defense than the Vegas market expected.
Chicago Bulls - Current: -1.5, Last: -0.5, Start: -4.5
Bad news got even worse on Sunday, as reports say that Zach Lavine's COVID-related absence from the team may be extended another week or so. The Bulls are 3-2 SU without Lavine, and now the hard work begins if they want to maintain their slim playoff hopes (currently two games behind WAS for #10).
Toronto Raptors - Current: -1.5, Last: -2, Start: 2.5
Burn the tape type of season for these Raptors, whose best players (such as Pascal Siakam) have underperformed as much as the rest of the team. Look for Toronto to be a sneaky BET-ON team next year, however, when they return to playing in Toronto and cheered by their famed 'Jurassic Park' crowd.
Charlotte Hornets - Current: -1.5, Last: -2, Start: -5.5
With another big win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday at home, the Charlotte Hornets have indeed kept the shipped a float without star rookie PG LaMelo Ball, going 10-9 SU without him. Now it looks like LaMelo may be able to play by the end of this week, with the Hornets in the thick of the East playoff race.
Sacramento Kings - Current: -2.5, Last: -2.5, Start: -2
Sportsbooks finally took down the Kings championship odds this week - with young potential stars at guard in Fox/Haliburton, as well as frontcourt depth in Holmes/Bagley - the Kings should be right in the mix for the playoffs, even in the West. Do they get a new coach in the offseason too? It's very possible.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Current: -5, Last: -5, Start: -2.5
Sportsbooks finally took down the Timberwolves championship odds this week.
Detroit Pistons - Current: 5.5, Last: -5.5, Start: -6
Sportsbooks finally took down the Pistons championship odds this week.
Orlando Magic - Current: -6, Last: -6, Start: -1.5
Sportsbooks finally took down the Magic's championship odds this week. After trading away their three best players, the Magic are firmly in full rebuild mode (to the delight of Magic fan Chris Dell, I'm sure).
Cleveland Cavs - Current: -7, Last: -7, Start: -6
Sportsbooks finally took down the Cavs championship odds this week.
Houston Rockets - Current: -7, Last: -7, Start: -1.5
Sportsbooks finally took down the Rockets championship odds this week.
OKC Thunder - Current: -10, Last: -9.5, Start: -3.5
Sportsbooks finally took down the Thunder's championship odds this week - with a ton of draft ammo and a future star in SGA, I wouldn't be surprised to see OKC majorly improved by the start of the next season.