What You Missed in NBA Betting During Football Season

Updated: February 10, 2021

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are probably still cruising around on boats celebrating their Super Bowl LV victory as we speak, and the odds are good their second Lombardi has to be fished out of the bay.

Yes, the Bucs’ nautical parade was a fitting end to a crazy NFL season, but with football in the rearview mirror, we can turn our attention to NBA betting. And if you haven’t been paying attention, you’ve missed quite a lot.

But fear not NBA bettors, we dive into the basketball odds, numbers, and stats, and break down the best NBA betting trends going to get you caught up.

NBA’s Best Early Season Betting Trends

The Jazz Are the Best Bet (and Maybe Team) In the NBA

This would have been super easy to miss if your focus was solely on football over the last couple of months. “Aren’t the Lakers and Clippers the top teams in the NBA? And didn’t the Nets trade for James Harden?”

While, technically, the questions above are valid, the Jazz would like a moment of your time. Utah owned the NBA’s longest winning streak this season at 11 games (and are winners of 16 of their last 17) to hold the league’s best record at 20-5. They are the only team that ranks in the Top-4 in both offensive and defensive rating.

Rudy Gobert looks like the Defensive Player of the Year. Donovan Mitchell keeps getting better. Mike Conley looks like, well, Mike Conley. They also have great depth and are well-coached. 

But even more impressive is how profitable the Jazz have been for their backers. Utah is 18-7 ATS this season, which includes a 15-2 ATS mark over that 17-game stretch. The Jazz cash rate of 72 percent is 11 percent higher than the next-closest team (the Phoenix Suns at 60.9 percent).

Sportsbooks and NBA fans alike probably aren’t giving Utah the respect they deserve, so you may have a few more weeks to make sweet music with the Jazz against the spread, but keep an eye on the lines as everyone’s expectations begin to adjust.

Harden Has the Nets Thinking Defense is Over-Rated

Yes, the Nets went out and brought in James Harden, matching him with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to create the NBA’s latest big three. Now that Irving is back (we don’t really have time to open that can of worms), the Nets are cooking on offense. 

Since Harden has joined the Nets, they lead the NBA in scoring at 124.6 points per game and rank third in offensive rating. But that’s the only end of the floor Brooklyn seems to put in the effort.

While the Nets are scoring at a ridiculous rate, their defense, well what’s the opposite of cooking? Burnt? Spoiled? Overdone? Whatever it is, that’s what they are. Brooklyn is giving up a league-worst 123.8 points per game and ranks dead last in defensive rating in their 13 games with Harden.

However, that combination has made them an absolutely perfect Over bet. In fact, the Nets have cashed the Over in 18 of their last 20 games and in 11-of-13 games since acquiring Harden.

Keep hammering this trend until the Nets figure out how to play defense (likely never, considering their roster), or books make a serious adjustment, which could mean totals we have rarely seen.

Hawks Flying Under the Radar

If you don’t pay much attention to basketball until football is over, this one may throw you for a loop. At 7-16 O/U, the Atlanta Hawks are the best Under bet in the NBA. No, seriously. Your last memory may be of a high-volume shooting team that can’t stop anybody, but that hasn’t been the case this season.

That style of play has certainly meant some elevated totals for the Hawks early on this season, but a newfound effort on the defensive end has them diving under numbers. 

After finishing last season 28th in defensive rating, the Hawks now rank 12th and are really making it difficult for opposing teams to get clean looks. They rank third in opponent effective shooting percentage and are second in opponent 3-point shooting percentage.

But what makes the Hawks a solid Under bet is the fact they still aren’t a great shooting team themselves. Atlanta ranks 15th in the NBA in scoring and 23rd in effective field goal percentage. Obviously, the Hawks can get hot at times, but that inconsistency on offense has been a great thing for total bettors.

However, bettors should keep an eye on the Hawks’ injury situation. One of their best defenders, De’Andre Hunter is out for a while with an injury, and if the Hawks continue to get totals closer to the 220 mark, this trend could start to swing the other way.

Fear the First-Half Deer

If you are a regular reader of our daily NBA picks column you’ll know this trend makes routine appearances there. While the Milwaukee Bucks’ offense is as high-tempo as ever, their defense has taken a step back this season.

The Bucks led the NBA in defensive rating a season ago, but this year they rank seventh and have been particularly bad at defending the deep ball, sitting 23rd in opponent 3-point percentage. Simply put, the Bucks don’t appear to have the same intensity on that end of the floor this season and it has cost bettors.

Milwaukee is a middling 13-11 ATS this season, often getting out to big leads, before allowing opponents to come back and snare a backdoor cover. But fear not Bucks backers! We have the solution for you!

The Bucks have been a great bet in the first 24 minutes of games, going 15-9 against the first-half number this season. That’s thanks to leading the NBA in first-half scoring average (61.5) and first-half average margin (+6.2). 

But you really need to Fear the first-half Deer when they’re playing at home. The Bucks are a ridiculous 9-2 against the first-half spread at Fiserv Forum with an average margin of 12.1. 

Where Can I Bet on the NBA?

You can bet on NBA odds at every online and casino sportsbook, including NBA moneylines, spreads, Over/Under totals, and a ton of NBA prop odds. Head over to our best-suggested sportsbooks for the top spots to bet on NBA odds in your area.

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