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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 12:00 PM

I’m increasing my basketball coverage this winter because of popular demand. I’ve decided not to spend too much time on Championship “Futures” prices in the NBA because they’re not likely to change much in a relevant way. Everybody knows that Golden State is the class of the league. Everybody knows that San Antonio is the team in the West most likely to derail them in a Best-of-Seven. And, everybody knows that a healthy Cleveland outclasses the East and would be a series underdog to the Warriors (again) in the finals.

There’s no reason to just repeat that every week!

I wanted to start 2016 pro hoops today because San Antonio will be hosting Cleveland tonight on TNT. The superpowers play each other so rarely that you really need to watch when they do! My NBA coverage will run every Thursday through the season to line up with those traditional TNT doubleheaders. (Game Two tonight features Golden State as a big favorite over the Lakers).

If you’re wondering, here are the current composite championship odds for those three superpowers.

Golden State +170

Cleveland +275

San Antonio +400

A $100 bet on Golden State to win the trophy would win $170. A $100 bet on the Spurs would win $400.

Cleveland is a “bigger” favorite than San Antonio because they have the easier pathway to the finals. If the Cavs and Spurs switched conferences, their odds would likely flip too. Actually, San Antonio would probably be a bigger favorite to win the East than Cleveland is right now because the quants would shape that market into place. (San Antonio is -5.5 tonight, a spread that’s larger than the value of home court advantage by itself.)

Barring injuries…those odds will look the same a month from now…two months from now…and possibly a couple of weeks into the playoffs.

Let’s instead focus on ATS tendencies in the NBA for the time being. The nature of the sport causes Futures prices to stay stable, even though all sorts of interesting things are happening in the markets. Today, I’m going to look at the big picture numbers for the full season. Here are the best teams against the spread so far in the 2015-16 campaign.

San Antonio Spurs: 28-12 ATS

New York Knicks: 25-16 ATS

Golden State Warriors: 23-15-1 ATS

Dallas Mavericks: 23-16 ATS

Orlando Magic: 22-15-1 ATS

It’s one of the big secrets in sports betting…there’s no “safer” longterm investment than the San Antonio Spurs! Once again, the market has underrated them. This has been going on throughout the Popovich/Duncan era. In fact, over the last 4.5 seasons, the Spurs are right at 57% against the spread. Sharps dream of mid-50’s at volume. Heck, financial advisors in all fields would love a return like that. The market isn’t perfect. They’ve always had a blind spot regarding the Spurs. Halfway through the new season, San Antonio is 70% vs. the number.

New York is a great story this year. The team has improved very quickly under the guidance of new GM Phil Jackson. The NBA is always much better off when New York has a high profile team attracting media coverage. A lot of “New York money” makes its way to Las Vegas. So, this could be an important development here in Nevada as well.

Golden State’s story is amazing because everybody knew they’d be great…and the market has priced them like champions every time out. STILL, the team is beating expectations about 60% of the time! You have to be something special to beat expectations when everybody already knows you’re fantastic.

On the other end of the spectrum, the worst teams against the spread…

New Orleans 14-23 ATS

Oklahoma City 16-24 ATS

Phoenix 16-24 ATS

Houston 16-24 ATS

Philadelphia 16-23-1 ATS

Minnesota 16-23-1 ATS

Chicago 15-22 ATS

Cleveland 15-20-1 ATS

New Orleans has been a big disappointment. Remember when Unibrow was going to take over the league? This is one reason why it’s so hard to rebuild through the draft in this sport. It takes a lot more than one great college player to launch you into the championship picture. Now the franchise is falling apart amidst backbiting and bad chemistry.

Oklahoma City and Cleveland are on the short list of championship hopefuls (OKC is at +900, and would have been the fourth team on my earlier Futures list if I went down that far). Both are showing how hard it is to play to expectations when you’re priced near perfection. This is why San Antonio and Golden State are so noteworthy. They’re sustaining excellence rather than treading water (or sinking ATS).

Note that both high profile “college” coaches, Billy Donovan at OKC and Fred Hoiberg of Chicago, are a combined 31-46 ATS so far. Tough to adjust to the new league. Donovan’s getting straight up wins. How much of those are attributable to his star athletes? We may not know until playoff time.

Will I be playing that Cavs/Spurs game tonight? You’ll have to sign up for service to find out! You can purchase my top basketball selections right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

Back to the NFL tomorrow…

Friday: NFL Divisional Round “Sharps” Report

Tuesday: NFL Super Bowl Futures heading into the Conference Championship games

Wednesday: A College Hoops update

Nest Thursday: My weekly look at the NBA

Thanks for reading. Glad to be with you during this exciting sports stretch where so much is going on in the NFL, college hoops, and the NBA. Before you watch the top four seeds in the NFL Playoffs this weekend, you get to see Cavs/Spurs! Enjoy.


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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