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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

Mar 19th NBA Action: Backing Bulls Turnaround (ATS) and OVER at Nuggets

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Season-to-date record: 54-58-2, 48%

Selling Denver high, buying Chicago low AND betting on disrupted circadian rhythms: Chicago Bulls +7 and o225

The Nuggets will host the Chicago Bulls, as seven-point favorites Friday afternoon. After floundering through the first half of February, Denver seems to have found their footing, as the Nuggets have won seven of their last eight, perhaps highlighted by a 31-point victory over Giannis' Bucks, as 8-point underdogs. Per the graphic below, the Nuggets are playing as well currently as at any point in the season.

But we estimate that Denver's recent outperformance represents a timely opportunity to sell high. After all, per the chart above, that last time the Nuggets reached such lofty levels of achievement, reversion occurred immediately.

Consistent with our inclination to fade Denver versus the number tonight, we note that the present spot appears favorable for the Bulls to lay claim to the road cover. At odds with the Nuggets recent upward trajectory, Chicago is 3-5 SU in their last eight games, including a 2-3 stint most recently at their United Center, punctuated by a narrow loss to the Spurs just two nights ago.

The Bulls' recent struggles could be a manifestation of the very reversion phenomenon we are calling for in Denver. By late February, Chicago had won seven of their last ten, well above their aggregate year-to-date win rate at the time of 48%. The more volatile results experienced since could be the normalization of this prior strength. But Chicago appears to have entirely corrected its excess and, after dipping below for a brief period, is currently performing roughly true to their cumulative, season-long win rate.

Supporting our thesis in favor of the tried road team cover at the overachieving contender, empirically we have observed strong profitability to a strategy of backing teams coming off long home stands with losing streaks, traveling to the opposing conference to face teams on winning streaks.

This system has amassed a 15% long term return on investment, including a 4-2 ATS run so far this year, and only four seasons since 2004 with a cover rate below 50%.

Separately, team level tends also definitively suggest the Bulls are the better team versus the number Friday:

  • Nuggets are coming off back-to-back covers but are 19-21 ATS this season,

  • Denver 8-11 ATS at their own Ball Arena this year; 6-8 as home favorites,

  • Nuggets 8-10 ATS following a win,

  • Bulls 7th best overall ATS record; 6-2 versus the number in last eight,

  • Chicago the most profitable road dog in NBA, at 8-2 versus the number,

  • Bulls 13-6 ATS following a loss

Additionally, we are betting the OVER for this contest. We hypothesize that the combination of altitude and time zone shifts sufficiently disrupt circadian rhythms and cause athletes to take some plays off on defense. Higher than expected scores are typically the result.

The combination of mile high altitude plus teams making the time zone change associated with teams traveling from the east has resulted in shootouts more times than not. Backing the OVER when the Nuggets host Eastern Conference teams has amassed a 9% return on investment since 2004, with only three full seasons with a cover rate of less than a 50%. This system is 4-1 so far this year.

Intuitively, the OVER might appear inversely correlated to a play on the road cover, as softer defense from the away team implies the OVER's success is driven by higher scores from the home team, which, in turn, suggests a greater probability of the host team collecting the ATS win. History bears out this presumed relationship. The Nuggets are 124-101-4 ATS in their building versus the east since 2004, including a 3-2 ATS record so far this season.

However, most curiously, the Bulls' offense is actually better on the road than at home. Chicago ranks in the NBA's top-ten in offensive efficiency away from the United Center (but 17th overall). Stated differently, on average, Chicago has been outscored by more than two points per game at home, but has managed to get the better of competitors to the tune of more than three points per contest on the road, resulting in more than a five point home-away margin differential.

Largely on the basis of the Bulls higher-octane road offense, we regard the idea plausible that Chicago can both suffer a defensive letdown that fuels excessive scoring, and still finish within seven points of Denver.

Happy betting!!


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