The Charlotte Bobcats were eliminated from the playoffs months ago and there's no doubt they'll finish with the league's worst record, but don't think the players don't have any motivation in the last week of the regular season.
Charlotte needs one win to avoid finishing with the lowest winning percentage in NBA history.
"We want one win for sure," Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson told the Charlotte Observer
after his team lost 100-68 to the Derrick Rose-less and Luol Deng-less Chicago Bulls. "We don't want that record; we're thinking about it, talking about it."
But there's another repugnant record -- maybe an even more embarrassing one -- at stake. The 'Cats are in danger of finishing with the lowest winning percentage against the spread in recent history. Entering Friday's slate, Charlotte is 21-40 against the number, which means they cover the spread .343 percent of the time.Covers.com's
records go back as far as the 1990-91 season and only two teams covered at a lower clip: the 2003-04 Orlando Magic (.333) and the 2001-02 New York Knicks (.333).
"This is my 14th (NBA) season in Las Vegas," professional handicapper and Covers Expert Ted Sevransky
said, "and I have never seen a team as bad as the Bobcats."
There's plenty of proof out there. Charlotte is riding an 18-game losing streak, is 4-14 ATS during the skid, and Wednesday was the ninth time the club lost by 30 points or more points and 21st time it lost by 20 or more.
The Bobcats lost outright in all three games they were favored in this season and the last time they were chalk, they lost by 28 points.
Bad teams aren't always bad bets and good teams aren't always good bets. The Toronto Raptors are 22-41 SU and 34-28-1 ATS this season. The 1990-91 Detroit Pistons
and the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers
were both title-contending clubs but covers less than 40 percent of their games.
To be a truly awful ATS team you must play below expectations, and that is probably the most amazing part of the Bobcats' run at history. Everyone knew they would be terrible and the 'Cats are still playing well below what the market expected. Vegas saw Charlotte as a 17- to 18-win club
entering the season. If Paul Silas' platoon win out - and there's no way on God's green Earth that's happening - it will still finish 5.5 games under its season win total.
Some have suggested Michael Jordan's franchise is tanking in order but improve its chances at the draft lottery, but those people obviously don't look at the standings: Charlotte has had this year's worst straight-up record locked up for more than a month.
New Orleans, the second worst team in the Association, has 12 more wins and was a 6.5-point favorite at
Charlotte earlier this week.
"They're terrible. Bad enough that they don't have to tank to stink," Chris Andrews, oddsmaker for Cal Neva, told Covers.com
Of course, historically bad teams present a challenge for bookmakers like Andrews. How do you present a pointspread that's enticing enough to get some action on the underdog?
"It really is a challenge," Andrews said. "In this business, the wiseguys can always find a reason to back the dog. You know, a regression to the mean. But we're just not seeing that with this team."
The books regularly make the Bobcats double-digit underdogs, but that's not all that generous considering their average pointspread differential is -13.6, double that of the Cleveland Cavaliers (-6.8), who are the next worst.
Sevransky says he has the Bobcats seven points lower than the next worst team in the league, meaning he'd have the 'Cats as 7-point dogs on a neutral court against the Cavs.
"The thing that's really terrible about them from a bettor's perspective is that they have no back-door ability to cover games," Sevransky said. "They just don't have that guy who can fill the bucket late in games to bite into those leads."
Charlotte has five games left and it will be an underdog in all of them. If the Bobcats go 0-5 ATS they will finish as the best bet-against team since at least 1989-90 and possibly in NBA history.