Suns’ odds to win West, NBA championship have plenty of value

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It was a wacky week in the NBA, folks. LeBron James broke a dude’s face open, home teams ran roughshod over visitors and Unders continued to dominate the landscape. Let’s take a look at two teams that have seen their fortunes shift in the early part of the season.
Phoenix came out of the gate 2-3 SU/1-4 ATS, and it seemed that the magic from last season had all but disappeared. Three weeks later, the Suns look every bit like the team that made it to the NBA Finals last season. This month Phoenix is 12-0 SU/8-4 ATS with a +11.8 net rating. The Suns have limited opponents to 100.9 points per 100 possessions during this run and they are checking all the same boxes they were last season.
Heading into Tuesday, Phoenix had the second-highest rate of midrange attempts in the NBA and shoots 45.5 percent on those attempts. The Suns’ shooting is down slightly, but that is the case within the entire league, and they rank seventh at 37.1 percent from the perimeter. It is somewhat troubling that opponents are shooting 64.5 percent at the rim, but that was their statistical weakness a season ago.
Phoenix is still one of the worst transition defenses as well, which does not bode well in the postseason, but this team is just as dominant as last year. The Suns’ power rating has shifted, which is why they are 1-4 ATS in their last five games, but there is still some value in the futures market. BetMGM has them as the fourth choice to win the Western Conference at 6/1 and 14/1 to win the NBA title. Those are odds worth investing in considering Phoenix is clearly the second-best team in the West.
After a loss to Charlotte on Monday, the Wizards fell to 1-3 SU and ATS in their last four games. Over an 82-game schedule, a four-game slump is barely worth noting, especially when Washington is still 11-6 and in control of the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. However, there have been signs that the Wizards’ early success is fleeting, and these four games could be the start of their slide down the standings.
Washington is one of the most inefficient offenses in the league, averaging just 106.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, which is 22nd in the NBA. Shooting is a major problem. The Wizards take just 35.0 percent of their attempts from deep and shoot only 32.8 percent from the perimeter. Their leading shooter right now is Spencer Dinwiddie at 37.6 percent on 5.6 attempts per game, and behind him is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is shooting 36.2 percent on 5.5 3-point attempts per game.
Those poor numbers have led to this extremely inefficient offense, and their defense is starting to show its warts as well. The Wizards might allow only 104.7 points per 100 possessions, but opponents are shooting 66.9 percent within 4 feet of the hoop, and their half-court defensive rating of 92.0 is perfectly average. These statistics are indicators of a team playing above its head, and I suspect this is where the ground falls out from under Washington.
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