If you’ve been betting on NBA Central Division teams early in the season, your bankroll has likely taken a serious hit.
The Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers have been costly bets both straight up and against the spread early in the season. But hopefully you’ve been cashing in on the misery of their early struggles and fading those Central clubs.
“If someone had successfully been playing against Central teams all season long, then they'd already be playing with house money,” says Covers Expert Ben Burns. “They could choose to continue to ride out their win streak until those Central teams start to turn it around. However, as that's probably not the case for most, I definitely wouldn't start blindly firing away against this division. Often, ATS losing streaks can result in future value at the betting window.”
Heading into action Friday night, Central teams have a combined 37-55 SU record while covering just 43.4 percent of the time (40-52). The picture gets even darker after examining their home ATS records. Central teams are just 14-27 (34.1 percent) ATS at home, with the Bulls doing their part to drag down the numbers with a 1-9 ATS mark at the United Center.
“They've (Bulls) been a little overvalued until this point but that poor mark at the betting window will start to bring their lines down,” notes Burns. “Keep in mind that every team goes through peaks and valleys. A closer look shows that the Bulls are still 5-5 SU at home and that all four of the SU wins that resulted in non-covers were within three or fewer points of resulting in a cover. They could easily have a better ATS home record and I wouldn't overreact to their early numbers.”
The Central finished with a cumulative 162-166-2 (49 percent) cover rate last season, so why are the records so bad this year?
One reason may be the lack of star power in the division due to injuries. The Bulls aren’t the same without perennial scorer Derrick Rose (knee), the Pacers lost scoring machine Danny Granger (knee) and the Cavaliers are trying to survive without reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving (finger).
Burns offers one final piece of advice to Central Division bettors moving forward.
“Each team is unique and needs to be looked at individually. However, if generalizing about the entire division, I believe the poor ATS records to be a short-lived thing. The season is still young.”