Nov 8 NBA Action: Toronto Raptors @ Miami Heat
Toronto Raptors @ Miami Heat o189.5 (-117) While we are still waiting for our against the spread NBA picks to matter, out totals model looks to have found its stride. Over the last four days, we hit on 75% of our eight over/under picks, and are now up a bit more than 2 units so far over the whole of this young season. Collectively, we are 12-9 playing NBA totals tis year, good for a better than 57% aggregate win. We hope to keep our hot streak going today with our play on the Raptors at the Heat.
Interestingly, we have only played the over twice this year (and we split those two games). Our bias toward the under should not be alarming though, as empirical research concludes that bettors tend to be overly optimistic regarding scoring potential early in the season, making the under more likely to pay over the first four games. That our highest conviction play today is on the over might hint 1) that market expectations are adjusting to become better aligned with actual outcomes , and 2) that our system is likewise adapting to the changing landscape.
For today, we see the Raptors at the Heat as essentially as a toss-up. Our work calls for about 97 points each way. Alone, 194 is adequate to garner a payday versus the o/u line of 189.5, but a close game also carries the potential of an overtime period, which could seal a victory for over bettors if play during the first 48 minutes leaves the combined score a bit light.
Fundamentally, Miami's defense is solid. As evidence of this assertion, consider that the Heat is 5th in points allowed per game, and 6th in opponents True Shooting Percentage. Also, behind Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosch, Miami is offensively adept (to this point, the Heat actually have four players in the on the top-100 NBA scorers list -- Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic also make this cut ). However, at 96.7, the South Beach crew is 24th in average points per game.
Miami's low productivity on offense though is a function of pace rather than prowess -- the Heat rank 28th in possessions per game. We think the relatively youthful Toronto Raptors (Toronto is about average in terms of team age, while Miami sorts 25th by this measure), who are more inclined push the ball (i.e. Toronto is 15th in posessions per game) is capable of baiting Miami into a more uptempo proceeding this afternoon. For instance, last week Miami faced the Houston Rockets, who rank 10th by possessions per game. In this contest, the Heat managed an above average 98 possessions (we estimate possessions in this context as field goal attempts + turnovers), compared to just 90 and 86 in the two prior games against Charlotte and Cleveland -- both of whom fall into the fourth quartile by possessions per game.
Bottom line: We are doing an about face with regard to our heretofore bias toward the under, as we anticipate a combined score of about 194 when the Toronto Raptors visits American Airlines Arena. Playing over 189.5.