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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 09:56 AM

Hot & Not Report

Week of October 28th

Last week's focus on the World Series got off to a rocky start with Washington winning the first two games on the road and bucking the trend of LCS 'sweepers' rarely winning more than one game in the World Series. But with Houston righting the ship on the plane ride to Washington and now returning home up 3-2 in the series, the historical trend of teams who needed more LCS games to get here is back in the driver's seat to cash.

The World Series will be over in a few days now, and with plenty of stuff going on last week with the start of the World Series and the usual college and pro football schedule, there was no time to touch on the start of the NBA season.

We are now about a week into it with every team having at least two games under their belt. Obviously we are a long ways away from viewing what should be a highly intriguing playoff season for the first time in years, but there are two season-long situations I always like to keep in mind in the NBA each year. And while they can't be blindly followed each night the long-term results speak for themselves.

Who's Hot

Fading the defending NBA Champions
Approx. +34 units blind since the start of the 2004-05 campaign and +31 blind units the past three seasons
Only five of 15 teams finished the next year with a winning ATS record

As exciting as it was for basketball fans north of the border to see their beloved Toronto Raptors go the distance last year – and be the example of why teams in all sports should “go for it” in terms of roster moves when they are close to being a championship title team – from a betting perspective, it was going to be tough to look great this year; with or without Kawhi Leonard.

Defending NBA champs have not been good from a season-long ATS perspective the following year and this year is likely going to be no different. Sure, the easy answer in terms of looking at that is that Toronto did lose some exceptional talent from last year's squad, but that's generally accounted for in point spreads each night and will be sharper numbers as the year goes on.

Raptors fans will be quick to quote Toronto's 17-5 SU record without Kawhi Leonard as “evidence” as to why they will be just fine this year, but that number without context isn't complete. They beat up on a lot of bad teams in those games without Leonard – they were 4-5 SU against teams that finished with a winning record – and it's not like the rest of the Eastern Conference didn't get better for the most part.

Sure, there are still those tanking teams in the East, but the talent pool has been spread out through so many more teams this year that to expect Toronto have similar-type success is just irresponsible. There competition will be better on nearly a nightly basis, and as the champs they are always going to get an opponent's best shot. With Toronto now having the “champions tax” levied on their point spreads now, and while the tax rate may not be as high as what the Warriors and Cavaliers were dealing with in year's past, it's still out there attached to lines.

Furthermore, while there have been defending champions who were strong bets ATS-wise the following year since 2004, there are some extenuating circumstances surrounding those that actually turned a profit.

The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors were the most recent (and tied for the best record at 45-35-2 ATS) to do it, but that came during the season they achieved the regular season win total record. That team was phenomenal from top to bottom and it was still in the early stages of the dynasty years for the Warriors before the market could really catch up in terms of how good they were.

The 2012-13 Miami Heat were also 10 games above .500 ATS-wise when coming off a championship campaign at 46-36 ATS, but they were also en route to a return trip to the Finals and another title with LeBron James at his peak athletically and mentally in his 28-year-old season. This year's Toronto team isn't comparable with that nor the 15-16 Warriors, so keep that in mind.

The other three teams that managed a winning ATS record after a championship win were the 2014-15 San Antonio Spurs (41-39-2 ATS), the 2008-09 Boston Celtics (43-39) and the 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks (41-37-4).

As you can see, not one of them finished more than four games over the .500 mark in terms of point spread wins, and when you break down the best of the bunch – 2008-09 Boston – from a monetary standpoint, you would have won $4300 betting $110 to win 100 on -110 lines, while losing $4290 at -110 prices in those 39 defeats for a whopping $10 profit. Not exactly the best path to profit is it.

So while the big winners a few months ago were the Raptors players, organization, and their fans – and adult diaper companies because bathroom breaks must have been a bitch for the masses that could barely move at that parade – bettors should be on the lookout to be big winners themselves this year by taking the other side in Toronto games.

Who's Not

Backing the NBA Finals losers from a year ago
One winning ATS season in last five years for approx -35 units

Sorry Warriors fans, nobody in the NBA is going to cry for you over the pain you are likely in for this year. And while the answer can be similarly as easy to Toronto's in terms of them missing Kawhi and the Warriors without Durant and Klay Thompson this year, recent history isn't on the runner's up from a betting perspective either.

Over the past five years, teams that lost in the finals have a 181-216-13 ATS record the following season as they've been a great team to fade as well. That's played out so far this year with the Warriors getting smoked in their first two games as they've lost both by 19+, and chances are more pain is in store. After all, Golden State was lined at -1 and +1 for those games as it is.

Now, obviously the bulk of this recent history concerns LeBron James-led teams and his squads are always going to have somewhat inflated point spreads as it is. And if you do take this line of thought back much further, to say the start of the century, there are plenty of favorable results – eight of 13 teams in this role from 2001 through 2013 finished with winning ATS records the following year – so this trend might be something that gets cast aside in a month or two when the market catches up to what true numbers for this year's Warriors team should be.

But it's still going to take some time for perception and reality to meet up in the market, as it's still easy to think of how dominant Golden State has been the past five years and have that infect one's handicapping process regarding this year's squad. We've seen that with how awful the point spreads looked in their first two games, and the Warriors may be best to fade more often now, then down the line on a full-season basis like say the Raptors.

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