NBA Win Total Odds & Picks: How to Bet Magic, Hawks and More Southeast Division Teams
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic.
Actual NBA basketball is officially back and while teams are getting ramped up, the window to bet futures as the regular season approaches is shortening. But don't worry, we've been breaking down every team, division and player on the Buckets podcast (you can listen here).
I already broke down my betting approach to teams in the Southwest division, and now we're moving to the Southeast, which features some intriguing teams and totals. Here's a look at how I am betting (or why I'm not betting) each team in the Southeast.
The Magic have some sneaky talent, and I believe in Paolo Banchero as an offensive engine. Banchero showed a lot of on-ball work in summer league, and that’s what they need.
If Banchero and improvement from Franz Wagner (who was sensational in EuroBasket) are enough to drag them to an offense ranked between 20th and 23rd, and the defense holds up as a sub-20th ranked unit, that’s honestly enough to get me on board.
Key Trend: Teams that finished bottom-five in Offensive Rating the previous season are 22-18 to the over in the last nine years (55%) not counting the COVID-interrupted season.
Bottom Line: I don’t think the ceiling for the team provides a lot of separation; this shouldn’t be a high-unit play. But I believe in structural defense, I believe in Wagner being undervalued in the market, I believe Banchero’s going to have the most impact of any rookie, and I believe that when Fultz returns from a less severe injury, the back half of the schedule sets them up to go over and push for momentum into next season.
Best Bet: I like the Magic to go over here. Depending on the book, you'll find a line of 26.5 (juiced) or 27.5.
For more on the Magic, including the reasons to fade the whippersnappers, read our full write-up here.
The Dejounte Murray addition likely helps, even if they lost some depth. I have concerns about their shooting, as they lost a lot of key members that added to their spacing from the last few seasons. But a Murray—Trae Young—Deandre Hunter/Bogdan Bogdanovic—John Collins—Clint Capela/Onyeka Okongwu lineup is enough to look like a 48-win team or higher.
Key Trend: Teams with a preseason total that is two or more wins higher than their actual win total the previous season but below 50 are 42-37 to the over for 53%.
Bottom Line:There’s better value on the division at a plus number, but if you’re looking to bet Atlanta, you should definitely lean to the over, with their ceiling likely in the low 50s. I just can’t get to a spot where I trust them enough to bet.
For more on the Hawks, including some surprising trends that suggest the under is also in play, read our full write-up here.
It feels like Washington’s floor is pretty high with the number of veterans and the level of talent they have. The Wizards had a great start last year, got rattled by the COVID woes everyone went through in December, and then fell apart.
Teams need a few things to go their way throughout the course of a season; Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal staying healthy for at least 40-50 games is the most dubious. They also need one of their young guys to make a leap (Corey Kispert or Rui Hachimura seem the most likely candidates).
Key Trends: Teams that missed the playoffs with a Pythagorean expected win differential of 3.5 or more are 7-2 to the over in the last 10 years.
Bottom Line: The Wizards have complimentary pieces around a signature star in Beal and have a low figure for a team with experience. I lean over on them and wouldn’t be surprised to see them at 40-43 wins in the play-in, but Beal and Porzingis without a third component is just too worrisome to be confident.
For more on the Wizards, including some trends that suggest they’re undervalued, read our full write-up here.
I whiffed on the under on this team big-time last season and I’m still not sure the cap was wrong. The Miles Bridges situation doesn’t seem close to resolution; without him, the starting unit takes a big step backward.
Gordon Hayward has injury concerns, and they haven’t been able to find a trade destination for him despite a desire to move him. There’s no young talent to cause excitement or upside.
Key Trend: Clifford takes over as a coach and is 2-0 to the over in his first season with a franchise in Charlotte the first time around and Orlando.
Bottom Line: I’m staying away in case I’m wrong about them again, but there are a lot of reasons to believe this team spirals to the bottom this season.
For more on the Hornets, including where Clifford can impact this young team most, read the full write-up here.
Miami has a lot of downward momentum coming off the Eastern Conference Finals run. The Heat lost PJ Tucker, have no power forward, and the candidates for breakout player are few and far between.
Their institutional infrastructure is so strong, though. This team found ways to win with a huge number of injuries and absences last season. Betting against Spoelstra to hit 50 wins with a contender team is perilous.
Key Trend: Teams that won over 50 games the previous season with a win total of 49.5 or higher have gone 20-14 to the under (59%) in the last 10 seasons.
Bottom Line: Can they score enough? Will a two-big look work? I have a lot of questions and not enough answers to bet either way. I'm going to stay away on this bet.
For more on Miami, including a trend that shows how important the 50-win mark is, read our full write-up here.