Season-to-date record: 77-74-2, 51%
Don't trust Wizards as huge favs: backing Oklahoma City Thunder +12.5
Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight makes the Wizards 9/10.5 points better than the Thunder Monday, per their RAPTORS/ELO frameworks, respectively. Similarly, ESPN's Basketball Power Index gives Washington just more than a six point advantage over Oklahoma City on a neutral court (the Wizards will reportedly host 10% of capacity at Capital One Arena starting April 21th, but no fans will be in attendance for Monday's action).
Washington has rattled off four straight wins and covers and is 6-2/7-1 SU/ATS in its last eight, to improve to 22-33 SU and 30-26 versus the number, however, we think this recent success has engendered undue optimism. We agree with the quantitative assessments to the effect that 12.5 is too big of a nut for the Wizards to crack.
Consistent with the idea that public support for the Wizards reached extremes recently, per the exhibit below, the percentage of games where the betting public gravitated toward Washington shot higher from late February through mid-March, and remains near the plateau still. We think the Wizards newly established darling status emboldens bookmakers to shade lines, creating opportunity for bettors willing to consider the other side.
Supporting the thinking that the Thunder are indeed the ATS play in D.C. Monday, we note that double-digit road dogs off non-covers have delivered a statistically significant profit (above the hypothetical 52.4% win rate required to breakeven at the standard vigorish of -110) since 2004 facing teams off ATS wins...including an 11-4 ATS run this season.
(Oklahoma City fell to Toronto yesterday 106-112. We posted a play on the Thunder plus double-digits, before the Raptors' Kyle Lowry was announced inactive. The line tightened dramatically on this news, and while our +10.5 covered easily, the Thunder just failed to beat the closing number of +5.)
Personnel notes: The Thunder will sit SG Lu Dortz Monday. Backup power forwards Isaiah Roby and Josh Hall are also out for OKC. Washington's starting power forward, Rui Hachimura, has been ruled out, while the Wizards primary big man, Alex Len, is presently listed as questionable.