Bank Shots: NBA's weekly betting news and notes
Each week, we look back on the NBA betting scene and give you the best - and worst - basketball bets, as well as some spots to keep an eye on with the upcoming schedule.
For the week of Jan. 12-18
Hottest ATS - Portland Trail Blazers (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS)
The league's biggest first-half surprise isn't going away anytime soon. The Trail Blazers put themselves on a 60-win pace with a perfect week, covering the spread with comfortable victories over the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks. Portland is on a five-game winning streak that has seen it average better than 113 points per game - bolstering the league's top offense while moving the team to the top of the Western Conference standings. Whether the Blazers stay there will depend on how they fare this week (more on that later.)
Coldest ATS - New York Knicks (1-3 SU, 0-4 ATS)
It was another difficult week in Manhattan, as the Knicks failed to take advantage of the momentum created by their season-high five-game winning streak (capped by an overtime win over Phoenix to start the week.) Matched up against a pair of elite defenses in Charlotte and Indiana and the undermanned but still-dangerous Los Angeles Clippers, New York dropped all three games by double digits to fall 10 games under .500 yet again. Things get a little easier for the Knicks over the coming week, as they'll play all four games at Madison Square Garden.
Best Over play - Indiana Pacers (3-0 SU, 3-0 O/U)
Heaven help the Eastern Conference if the Pacers continue to score as frequently as they did over the past week. Armed with the league's stingiest defense but an offensive attack that still ranks below league average, Indiana broke out in a big way this past week, averaging 113 points - more than 15 points above their season mark - in convincing victories over the Kings, Knicks and Clippers. Paul George has been his usual efficient self, while Lance Stephenson has proven to be a viable second option as he bolsters his Most Improved Player credentials.
Best Under play - Philadelphia 76ers (1-2 SU, 0-3 O/U)
While the Pacers emerged as a major surprise on the Over last week, the 76ers were certainly the most unexpected Under play. Philadelphia spent time as the league's most prolific offense, but those days appear to be far behind it now; the 76ers needed just 95 points to dispose of Charlotte, then managed only 86 in a loss to the Miami Heat and 78 in a thumping at Chicago. It's the continuation of a disturbing trend for Philadelphia, which ranked 10th in scoring in November, slipped to 12th in December and is 19th so far in January.
Surveying the schedule
The Trail Blazers' only weakness is on the defensive side of the ball, where they allow 102.9 points per game - tied for the third-highest mark in the Western Conference. Portland has a steady diet of prolific opponents on the schedule this coming week; it opens with road games against Houston (105.1 points per game) and Oklahoma City (105.3) before returning home for dates against Denver (103.3) and Minnesota (106.4). Expect points a-plenty - and lofty over/under totals to reflect that.