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TOP Eastern Conference NBA Trends | NBA of the Day

Mitch S
Coach Mitch breaks down the second half of the NBA season in the Eastern Conference.

The Eastern Conference, while not as compact as the Western Conference, arguably has even more poignant storylines. Most of the teams in the bottom of the play-in tournament wouldn’t even be in the playoffs in the West, which means that we could see some movement between playoff teams; while other teams at the bottom of the conference weigh them down. Let’s break down each team.

Boston Celtics: The Celtics have only been underdogs twice this season, and it’s never been an underdog at home; that’s because they’re the most dominant team in the league on their home court. And while they’re 15-14 ATS this season at home, it’s important to note that their 15 PPG average margin of victory can be deceiving, especially when playing good teams; it’s already faltered at home, and it’s among the worst ATS teams in February, going 2-5 ATS. At the end of the day, though, I believe that this is the team representing the East in the NBA Finals - they’re just too talented.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Cleveland has quietly been one of the most dynamic and high-powered teams in the league, and it’s on the back of their incredible defense; as a favorite this season, they’re holding teams to the under in nearly 60% of the time, and it hits at a clip of under by three points per game. In fact, it’s important to fade all SG’s that are facing the Cavs, as they’re the top defense against the position, averaging only 19 PPG total to opposing SG’s – that’s both the starter and any other bench player that comes into the position. That’s nuts.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are in a free fall, and it has a lot to do with their offensive inefficiencies. Their defense has stayed consistent, though, as they have kept the under in 8 out of their last 10 games total. Giannis Antetokounmpo has stayed his normal self, and has been stellar defensively; but at the end of the day, I think that the Bucks will figure it out. But it’s important to remember who is the head coach of this team, and their track record when it comes to important games.

New York Knicks: So, the Knicks are in fourth, huh? Their record is great, but pay attention to their record against the spread… especially if they’re the favorite. If they’re favored in a game (and they will be, as they play a number of bottom-feeders twice in the upcoming games) - tail them, as they’ve covered in 65% of all games in which they’re favorited. But the total? Stay away from the over, which only hits 34% of the time when they’re favored. Yikes!

Philadelphia 76ers: Tyrese Maxey sure is something else, huh? He’s virtually their only participant on offense, and he’s improved drastically on defense as well. I project for him to propel himself firmly into the MIP award, and to continue to drive this team towards the playoffs, despite Embiid’s absence. And while they could really still use his presence, it’s important to note who is benefitting the most… and it’s opposing centers. Philly is among the worst in the league against opposing big men when it comes to points per game.

Indiana Pacers: They’ve dominated the Central Division (9-2 ATS) on their way to being one of the best stories of the NBA this season. The most surprising statistic, though, is just how prolific at scoring they are; this season, as the home team, they’re 19-9 on the Over, and average that over by more than four points per game. Tyrese Haliburton is a true star in this league, and we’re seeing it come to fruition before our very eyes, he’s also improving on defense.

Miami Heat: The Heat are doing their normal thing, where they hang around all year, and then turn it on in the Playoffs. Right now they’re the sixth seed, and the conference is definitely more soft as a whole; therefore, I project them to stay here in the top six for the rest of the season, especially because they have the fourth-easiest schedule for the rest of the season. They’re a top defensive team in the league, and teams have REALLY struggled against Bam Adebayo this season; he’s defensively ranked as a top-five center in the league.

Orlando Magic: The best ATS team in the league has also translated to winning, and the key to their ATS success has actually been REST. If they have equal rest with the team that they’re playing, they’re 22-5 ATS, good for an 81% clip. As well, if they get any rest at all, they are better, too – 24-7 ATS. But get this – if they don’t get any rest, they’re only 6-5 ATS this season, BUT, they lose ATS by an average of five points per game. I think I’ve cracked the code to Orlando’s spread success… but this much of a good thing can never last, and that’s why I think being cautious with them is important.

Chicago Bulls: I’ve said this many times, but there’s no team I hate more than my hometown team, the Chicago Bulls. They’re inconsistent in pretty much every way this season… besides one specific matchup. The OVER is hitting at an 80% clip when they play teams outside of the Eastern Conference - a crazy 16-4 on the over. We may see regression, but until I see that, I’m taking absolutely every single over when they play the West. Can’t explain why, but the data is the data!

Atlanta Hawks: The Atlanta Hawks are absolutely the worst ATS team in the league and they’re not going to look to rebound that. The problem that Vegas has with them is that they win; so if they’re looking to get this ATS right, then they’ve got some work to do. But above all of that, one of the best players to target in the second half is Jalen Johnson, who has absolutely been on a tear over the past month, averaging over nine rebounds per game and over 17 points per game. He’s turning into a real third option, and dare I say… second?

Brooklyn Nets: The Nets sold at the trade deadline, and are now on the outside looking into the playoff race. Obviously Mikal Bridges is the centerpiece of this Brooklyn team, but players like Cam Thomas have actually been step for step with the cornerstone; he’s averaging 21/3/3 over his last 30, which is nearly identical to Mikal. Everyone looks to Bridges for their props, but his counterpart might actually be the one to look at to profit in the second half.

Toronto Raptors: The Toronto Raptors are the bane of my existence, but they’ve been profitable in spurts after dumping their core from last year. They’re now solidified with Quickley and Barrett as their stars, and I actually expect them to improve over the next stretch in the NBA season. In fact, they don’t play a tough schedule in the second half, and they could definitely sneak in some wins here and there throughout the rest of the season. A stats that sticks out to me, though, is that as the away team, they hit the over in 67% of games. That’s incredibly profitable; look for them to continue to score across the board.

Charlotte Hornets: These bottom three are abysmal in total, and the Hornets have a specific kryptonite: they are absolutely horrible against the spread on the road. Faders are capitalizing at a rate of 68% and I don’t see any end in sight. They also give up by far the most amount of points to centers in the league! But there’s one bright spot this season, and his name is Brandon Miller; he just hit a 26 point game, and he’s finally unlocking parts of his scoring game that he was missing in the beginning of the season.

Washington Wizards: As the Hornets STINK on the road, the only bright spot about this Washington team has been the fact that they’re one of the best teams on the road against the spread, hitting at a rate of 67% when they’re on the road this season. They generally lose by seven, but the public perception of them is just so bad because of the losing streaks and such, that they often find themselves with spreads that are ten or more. We’re looking at a hot, hot trend; just don’t bet on them at home, where they only cover 30% of the time.

Detroit Pistons: The worst team in the league is getting… better? They’ve covered in 6 of their last 10 games and they recently won against Sacramento and Portland. If you’re going to be tailing anything when it comes to the Detroit Pistons, go ahead and tail them on the road; they’re 18-9 ATS when they’re the road team. I don’t even have the real thought to highlight any players, although Jaden Ivey seems to be coming along nicely, where he went on a stretch of 37, 26, and 23 points. Then, he dropped a dud and hit only two points. Who knows.

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