Basketball picksMarch 4, 2021

NBA All-Star Game On-deck

Betting trends ahead of the NBA All-Star game, as teams get set for an extended break. Odds to win the Slam Dunk Contest, plus a look at Atlanta’s new head coach, and top trends for tonight’s Raptors vs. Celtics game.


Thursday marks the final night of action ahead of the NBA All-Star game. Most of the league will chill for the weekend, but superstars unable to come up with a valid excuse are putting on a show, despite murmurs of a protest to the contrary. All the festivities will take place on Sunday, including the Slam Dunk Contest.

NBA All-Star game, slam dunk odds

In a small field, Obi Toppin from the Knicks is favored to win at +150. If Toppin can pull it off, he’d be the first Knick to win since 2010 when Nate Robinson took home his third title in five years. Anfernee Simons (+175) of the Blazers is second, and Pacers/Mad Ants rookie Cassius Stanley rounds out the pack with an attractive looking 2-to-1 payback. Stanley is the first-ever Slam Dunk contestant that is signed on a two-way contract. Only in 2021.

The past five Slam Dunk winners were as follows:

2020, Derrick Jones Jr. (Heat)
2019, Hamidou Diallo (Thunder)
2018, Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
2017, Glenn Robinson III (Pacers)
2016, Zach LaVine (Timberwolves)

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Break Point

Adam Silver is licking his chops over the NBA All-Star game, but before we get to that, there are still nine games on the card that matter. And while every team has been forced into schedule interruptions over the past year, this is a different scenario in that it was a planned break. Some interesting trends to consider for tonight.

  • Teams this year with more than three days rest on-deck are 14-4 OVER (78%), including a 6-0 OVER record for road teams.

One of the OVERS involved the Pelicans (shocker), and after last night’s 252-total-point explosion vs. the Bulls, New Orleans is now 21-1-2 OVER (95%) since Jan. 17.

Looking further back, teams with four-plus rest days on-deck the past four years are 71-42 OVER (63%) on games played before the All-Star break, but at least 20 games into the season.

It sounds quirky because it has to be. This type of year is unprecedented and trying to find similarities between past seasons, where normalcy reigned, and the Covid era, takes ingenuity.

The highest OVER-percentage, based on ATS line, belonged to favorites of -6 to -10 points. Teams in this scenario were 13-3 OVER (81%), and it looks like roughly four or five games will fit that bill tonight.

  • Favorites of -6 to 10 points before the All-Star break with an extended rest on tap are 79-52 OVER (60%) the past 25 years.

Taking ATS line out of the equation, teams with the highest OVER percentage in this long range sample size:

  1. Pelicans, 21-7 OVER (75%)
  2. Trailblazers, 24-10 OVER (71%)
  3. Heat, 19-8 OVER (70%)

And all three of those teams are in action tonight.

Atlanta’s Next Chapter

The Atlanta Hawks parted ways with head coach Lloyd Piece on Monday, handing the keys to Nate McMillan. Known loosely as a defensive specialist, McMillan has never actually guided a team into the top 10, defensively. He’s had stints in Seattle, Portland and Indiana, making it to the dance nine times, but his overall postseason record is only 17-36 (.321).

Playoffs for McMillan are a long shot in 2021, but stranger things have happened. For starters, his club rewarded him with a 94-80 win over Miami in his debut. Then last night, in a remarkable fourth quarter comeback, Atlanta stunned the Magic 115-112, sending the Hawks into the All-Star break on a high note.

Trends to Track

Here are some strong NBA betting trends to keep on file for the Hawks in the second half. These are key trends for Atlanta. It’s based on who they are slated to face in the first five games following the break.

  • Atlanta is 48-29 OVER (62%) against teams with a losing record the past three seasons.
  • The Hawks are 9-18 ATS (33%) vs. teams with a win percentage between .250 and .400.
  • The past two seasons, the Hawks have the highest OVER-percentage in all home dates that followed the NBA All-Star game. Atlanta played OVER 16-5 (76%), clearing the total by 18 points per game.
  • McMillan’s all-time road record vs. weak teams with a scoring margin of -6.0 or worse, is 48-24 ATS (67%).

When Atlanta returns after the NBA All-Star game, they’ll finish their Florida tour against Toronto on March 11. A pair of home games against the Kings and Cavs is next, then it’s Houston and Oklahoma City.

  • Five games, all against sub-500 teams.

McMillan got his token win out of the way and the Hawks now have a much needed break to refocus. If they can’t take advantage of the soft schedule, finding something positive to build on, bettors will have to use extra caution down the stretch. In what has already been a letdown year, teams that are low in the standings pose a real risk of mailing it in early. With a defense allowing almost 30 fourth quarter points per game (29th), a lack of effort just throws gas on the fire.

Thursday Trend Tips: Raptors at Celtics

Here are some key trends to consider from the East, just before the NBA All-Star game. I’ll have premium picks available from a handful of games on Thursday night, too. My NBA bankroll is up more than +$21,000 in the past three years, and I’m looking to increase that balance in the next two months, as well.

Toronto at Boston (18-17)
Line: Celtics -7.5 and O/U 217.5

Boston has put together a three-game winning streak against the Pacers, Wizards and Clippers. Their straight up home record on a hot streak is 38-13, but they are .500 against the number and 8-16 ATS when laying between -5 and -11 points.

  • Favorites of any number are 10-31 ATS (24%) off three consecutive wins by six points or less, when both teams have an average scoring margin with +/- 3 points of even.

The Celts are 12th in the NBA at +0.7 and Toronto is ninth at +2.1.

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