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Author's Note: Our goal is pretty simple with these articles - to help find you some winners. We will be doing approximately two of these data deep dives per week (until the end of the 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 Tuesday, May 11, 2021. For Part I of 2 this week, we will keep this article short, due to the fact we have no idea who is playing later in the week and what teams want to do. We will be staying away from games with team(s) who don’t have anything to play for (excluding the Minnesota Timberwolves, who seem like they are actually trying to win). This is a weird week for the NBA, and none of these trends or #'s matter with so many players who are going to be on minutes restrictions and not playing at all.
Please Note: Similar to the trends article we put out earlier this week, this once will be very short because of teams locking up seeding and so many questions around players either playing or not playing. We are skipping Friday, because almost all those games involve either one or two teams we cannot get a good read on regarding either their current seeding motivation or tanking situation. We are also completely skipping Sunday, as a lot of teams will have wrapped up their respective seeding and lottery positions for the NBA Draft by then. We do, however, have two specific spots to attack for Saturday's 6-game slate:
Lakers @ Pacers (1st Half Under - Projected O/U 120)
We are aiming for a first half total to be released around 120 here. The Los Angeles Lakers are abysmal in the 1st half in general these days, going 12-20-2 to the under while their road games average a combined score of just 110.18 ppg before halftime. In their last 10 games, they are 2-7-1 to the first-half under while scoring only 109.5 ppg. The Pacers, on the other hand, are 17-16 to the first half over at home this year but are only seeing a combined 114.45 ppg in those home contests. In their last 10, the Pacers are a respectable 6-4 to the first half over while averaging 124.8 ppg, BUT asking each team to score about 60 points a piece is asking a lot here. We believe that 120 is a bit high but would provide us with great value, and with a buy price of down to under 117. The Pacers are currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference, and we expect them be very focused in this spot (and possibly rest starters on Sunday).
While Indiana has been known to push the pace for most of the 2020-21 season, it's worth noting that two of its last three games this week have been significantly more low-scoring than usual. The Pacers defeated Cleveland 111-102 on Monday, with both teams combining for just 113 in the first half. In the next game Indiana upset Philly at home, but by a score of 103-94 with exactly 113 points score again before halftime. Just last week, in an upset loss at home, Indiana dropped a 104-93 decision to the Kings with just 103 points score before the half. They've had some very high-paced affairs with the Wizards, Hawks and Bucks in between, but given the matchup with slow-paced L.A. and seeding motivation for both teams, we look for an increased defensive intensity early on from both sides on Saturday afternoon.
*Suns @ Spurs* (1st Half Over - Projected O/U 110)
DISCLAIMER: As of publishing this article the Spurs have now secured the 10th overall seed in the Western Conference. If we get any indication of San Antonio resting starters before tipoff on Saturday afternoon, then we will not make this bet. This is a situation to monitor, as it's still possible coach Greg Popovich will look to get his guys one more run in the Spurs' second-to-last regular season game here.
These are two very average-to-below-average teams when it comes to the over in the first half of their games, and the reason why we have this circled is because of their last 10 games in particular. The Spurs are 7-3 to the over in those last 10 at home with their games averaging 115.4 ppg. The Suns meanwhile are 8-2 to the over while scoring an average of 115.5 ppg in the first half. The last time these teams played on April 17, they scored a combined 109 points, but the Suns had an awful first-half performance and the total still almost went over. We are bullish on the 10-game recent trends for both teams mentioned above though and expect both squads to continue the high scoring here as the Suns are fighting to still get the #1 seed while the Spurs have locked up the 10 seed. This game might be worth a look at the first half Suns ATS as well, depending on the Suns' seeding situation following Friday night's games and given San Antonio's aforementioned situation of having already locked up the #10 seed out west and with no possibility of moving either up or down over their last two games of the regular season.
The Spurs, if they do play their guys here, have been in a nice rhythm offensively this past week outside of their road loss to the defensive-minded New York Knicks on Thursday. The Spurs poured in 146 points by themselves against the Bucks on Monday (87 in the first half alone) in a game where both teams combined to score 151 and go well over the first half total. The Nets and Spurs combined for just 108 on Wednesday, but that included a 20-point first quarter by San Antonio and a 22-point second quarter by Brooklyn - and the two teams still wound up finishing that game with 144. Phoenix's shootout with Golden State on saw a combined 124 first-half points, and the Suns also recently combined to score 119 first-half points with the Knicks. With a low possible total here we will look to pounce, especially if motivation is down for San Antonio (less defensive intensity early) AND their starters still get the nod.