By Dan Rivera & Chris Dell
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Our goal is pretty simple with these articles - to help find some you some winners. We will be doing approximately two of these data deep dives per week (until late in playoffs/Finals) and are pulling most of the information from Oddshark's 1st half/1st quarter stats. Despite some of the notable trends, stats and numbers you'll note in this article, we cannot stress this enough - don’t bet every single game below.
Why? Well, what we cannot forecast is injuries, and in some of these games further research is needed closer to gametime in order to get more injury/player health clarity. Rule 101 in betting the NBA (profitably, in the long term) is you shouldn't be betting strictly off trends (especially mainstream media trends). These trends, however, can still serve as a baseline for what to avoid - or what to target - based on accumulating important injury/inactive news, minutes restriction information and/or NBA playoff/play-in motivation.
All of the trends/data points listed below are based on who is home and who is away and also includes a sample of a team's last 10 games, regardless of the venue. These trends are updated weekly and were last updated on Monday, May 3, 2021. For Part I of 2 this week, we will focus on our attention on Friday's main slate, with a handful of teams and their first half total/first half ATS trends seemingly jumping off the page. We'll start by tackling five of Friday's 10 total games below, starting with the Boston Celtics visiting the Chicago Bulls, and work our way down the nightcap matchup between San Antonio and Sacramento.
Please note: When referencing records to the Over/Under below, if a team is "13-17-1 to the under" that means that team has 13 overs, 17 unders and one push in their past 31 games. If a team is "6-4 to the over" it means that team has six overs and four unders in their past 10 games. Simply put, the first number in the team's O/U record is in reference to the over, and the second number is in reference to the under. All of the O/U numbers mentioned below are strictly first half totals and/or first half ATS records.
Saturday May 8
Wizards @ Pacers (Pacers 1st Quarter ATS and 1st Quarter Total Over)
The Indiana Pacers are 17-15 in the1st quarter (1Q) ATS at home this season, covering by 1.5 ppg. They are 6-4 1Q ATS their last 10 as well, covering by 2 ppg. The Wizards meanwhile are an abysmal 13-19-1 ATS in the first quarter, failing to cover by 2.15 ppg. In their last 10 they are 4-6 ATS but are in fact covering by 1 ppg (so barely covering as a whole, but covering less times overall in the long run).
The Pacers are also 17-15 to the over at home in the first quarter, their games averaging a combined 57.31 ppg in the 1Q in their season-long sample at home. In their last 10, they are an even stronger 8-2 to the 1Q over at home, scoring 62.6 ppg. The Wizards, meanwhile, are only 17-16 to the over on the road with their games averaging 60.03 ppg in the opening period. They are a red hot 9-1 their last 10 to the over on the road as well, scoring 65.2 ppg. In the long term view, this is two barely .500 Eastern Conference teams here, but short term it's teams who are dead nut over teams. When these two teams played each other just four days ago, they not only combined for 295 total points for the full game, but they also combined for 67 first quarter points. With no Myles Turner to defend the interior and Russ having his way on the boards and the passing lanes throughout this game, expect more high-paced madness. Rui Hachimura's return to the Washington Wizards' starting rotation should also play in our 1Q favor here.
Pistons @ 76ers (76ers 1st Half ATS)
The 76ers are 18-14 ATS in the 1st half (1H) at home this season, covering by 6.03 ppg. In their last 10 they are 7-3, covering by exactly 7.3 ppg. The Pistons are 15-20 ATSD in the 1H while failing to cover by 5 ppg. In its last 10, Detroit is 4-6 ATS 1H while failing to cover by 1.6 ppg. This game is all dependent on if Joel Embiid plays, as the Pistons are looking to the offseason and the 76'ers are still jockeying for the #1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference. This spot is a tricky one though, as Philadelphia won on Friday night (without Embiid), but won just two points against the New Orleans Pelicans, failing to cover.
Philly did, however, easily cover the 1H spread in that game, taking a 70-54 lead at the halftime break before being outscored by 19 points in the third quarter and nearly losing the game outright at home. The Pistons have actually played decent (compared to expectation) as of late, upsetting the Grizzlies as five-point home dogs on Thursday and losing a tight game to the short-handed Hornets on Tuesday, but they hold the league's worst road record this year at 7-28 and have motivation to lose in order to secure a top four pick in this summer's 2021 NBA Draft. Detroit is currently one game ahead of Cleveland, Orlando and Oklahoma City for the third worst record in the league and a solid shot to secure a top three overall pick.
Grizzlies @ Raptors (1st Quarter Over)
The Memphis Grizzlies are 20-14 to the 1Q over this year on the road, those games totaling 56.03 points on average in the opening period. In their last 10 they are 4-5-1 while scoring 53.3 ppg. The Raptors are 19-14 to the 1Q over at home while scoring 57.12 ppg on average, and in their last 10 specifically they are a whopping 8-1-1 to the 1Q over while scoring 59.9 ppg. Toronto will be without both Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet for this Saturday evening contest in Tampa, so that could damper a high-scoring potential first quarter outcome here, but it also could allow Memphis to produce more consistently on offense with Lowry defending Morant on the perimeter. Three of the Grizzlies' last four games have seen them put up 33, 34 and 32 points in the first quarter (since last Saturday), with the only exception coming in a low-scoring loss to the defensive-minded New York Knicks. The Raptors have been a mixed bag of late in the first quarter, allowing 31 to Washington on Thursday and 38 to the Lakers on Sunday, but then allowing 29 to the Jazz and 26 to the Clippers sandwiched in between those games. We expect a bounce back spot for Memphis here though, and without Lowry to make stops, Toronto should continue to struggle on defense.
Thunder @ Warriors (1st Quarter Under)
The Thunder are 15-18 to the 1Q under on the road, scoring 53.33 ppg, but in their last 10 they have been scoring 59.1ppg. The Warriors meanwhile are 13-18 to the 1Q under, scoring 56.74 ppg and are 3-7 to the under in their last 10 scoring a very similar 56.6 ppg. Do the Thunder care even to score here? If the answer is no, the under is well worth a play despite how many threes Steph Curry can hit in the opening period. Golden State held OKC to just 24 points in the first quarter of the two teams' last meeting on Thursday (and under 100 for the game), while the Thunder gave up just 25 and 31 points, respectively, to the Kings and Warriors over the past week despite allowing 42 1Q points to the Pacers last Saturday. It's the Thunder offense we simply don't expect much from here, despite the Warriors' offensive firepower.
Sunday May 9
Suns @ Lakers (Suns 1st Quarter ATS and Suns 1st Half ATS)
The Suns are 14-17-1 ATS in the first quarter at home, barely covering the spread by just 0.28 ppg. Their last 10 they are 4-6 1Q ATS and covering by only 1.1 ppg. Meanwhile for the Lakers, they are an abysmal 9-24 1Q ATS, failing to cover by 2 ppg. In their last 10 they have been slightly better though, going 4-6 ATS but still failing to cover by 0.7 ppg. If LeBron is out, the Suns might just come out and stick to them here.
To take this trend a step further, the Lakers also get worse in the 1st half as the game goes on without a healthy LeBron and/or AD. The Suns are 15-17 ATS in the first half at home but only 4-6 ATS in their last 10. The Lakers are 11-22 ATS in the 1H on the road, failing to cover by 0.3 ppg. In their last 10 though, they are 3-7 ATS while failing to cover 5 ppg. This is a Lakers team which struggles the longer with out LeBron on the court, and even if he can suit up soon for them, he's admitted himself he's nowhere near 100%. Phoenix has actually struggled this week playing well early on, as evidenced by their 1-3 record SU in the first quarter against the Thunder, Cavs, Hawks and Knicks, two of which they trailed at the half as well. But the Lakers have been that much worse, losing 5 of 6 and 8 of 10 since an overtime win against Utah on April 17th. During the past week specifically, the Lakers have gone 1-3 SU in the first quarter while trailing by an average margin of nearly five points both after the first quarter and after the first half.
Thunder @ Kings (King’s 1st Quarter ATS)
The Thunder are 16-17 ATS in the 1Q on the road this season, but in their last 10 they are a lowly 3-7 while failing to cover by 5.3 ppg. The Kings are 14-17-1 ATS in the 1Q, but in their last 10 (and prior to the start of this past week) they are an outstanding 9-0-1 ATS while covering by 6 ppg. This is just a tale of two teams going in opposite directions here, as the Kings have been doing well without Fox and he could disrupt the flow here if he returns for Sunday's must-win game for Sacramento. The Kings over the past week led Dallas by 10, OKC by 5 and Indiana by 4 after the first quarter, and the only game in which they lost that early was to San Antonio on Friday night. The Thunder, on the other hand, were 1-3 SU in the first quarter this past week and trailed after the opening period by 13 to the Pacers (at home), 5 to the Kings (home) and 7 to the Warriors (road) - and we'll look to back the play-in motivated Kings early here as well.