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Hoop and the Harm: Weekly NBA Betting Recap for December 29-January 5

Welcome to the Hoop and the Harm. This is a weekly feature on OddsShark where hoops bettors can uncover all the hottest need-to-know trends, stats and general info for the week that was on the hardwood.

We're rapidly approaching the halfway point of the 2016-17 NBA season, and more than enough time has passed for sports bettors to zero in on some key trends.

This week, we're taking a look at the best and worst bets in the Association as well as which squads have a penchant for going OVER and UNDER totals.

Top ATS teams

TeamATS record
Houston Rockets24-12
Toronto Raptors21-12-1
New York Knicks21-14
San Antonio Spurs20-14-1
Boston Celtics19-14-2

What more can you say about the Houston Rockets that hasn't been said already? James Harden and company are easily the league's most surprising team, and that success on the court has translated to the betting window as well. Coming off an underwhelming 2015-16 campaign, the Rockets were clearly being undervalued by oddsmakers and the majority of basketball fans.

As of early January, it sure looks like new head coach Mike D'Antoni and this bunch are a match made in basketball heaven. The Rockets went 15-2 SU in December – a franchise-best for the month – and they covered the spread in 12 of those games. Keep riding the red-hot Rockets until this torrid run tapers off.

Worst ATS teams

TeamATS record
Minnesota Timberwolves14-21
Portland Trail Blazers15-22
Indiana Pacers15-21
Orlando Magic15-20-2
Golden State Warriors16-19-1

Minnesota was an interesting team heading into the campaign. The Timberwolves possess the most talented young roster in the NBA, and it was believed that well-respected bench boss Tom Thibodeau would get this promising yet unproven roster into shape. It hasn't gone that way. As of January 5, the Wolves were tied with the Dallas Mavericks for second-last in the Western Conference.

The growing pains for the young T-Wolves have been costing bettors as well. Minny has been downright terrible at covering the spread in 2016-17, as their 14-21 ATS mark is the worst in the league. The sky is the limit for this team, but until the Timberwolves can get past their growing pains, they should be avoided.

Top OVER teams

TeamOVER/UNDER record
Denver Nuggets24-10-1
Phoenix Suns23-13
L.A. Clippers23-15
Toronto Raptors22-12
Washington Wizards22-12

The best recipe for OVER bettors is to find a team that scores in bunches and is undisciplined on the defensive end of the floor. Case in point: the Denver Nuggets. At the time of writing, the Nuggets ranked fifth in points per game (108.3) and 27th in points allowed per game (110.5). That's led to an abundance of OVERs when they hit the floor, as the Nugs own the top O/U mark in the league at a fantastic 24-10-1.

Denver won't win the championship any time soon, but they're reaching their potential faster than many people expected. Mike Malone has done a fantastic job in his first year in the Mile High City, and it's quite clear the players are buying in to his system. Danilo Gallinari (17.2 points per game), Wilson Chandler (16.2 PPG), Will Barton (13.6 PPG) and especially Nikola Jokic (12.9 PPG, 7.8 rebounds per game) are leading a team that's going to do some damage in the tough Western Conference in the not too distant future. If only they could get that pesky defense thing down...

Top UNDER teams

TeamOVER/UNDER record
Chicago Bulls13-22-1
Atlanta Hawks14-20-1
Philadelphia 76ers15-17-1
Oklahoma City Thunder15-21
Dallas Mavericks16-18-1

The Chicago Bulls front office knew they were taking a gamble by shaking things up in the offseason. Longtime face of the franchise/perennially injured point guard Derrick Rose was shipped off to the Big Apple, and hometown boy Dwyane Wade was lured away from South Beach. Rajon Rondo was brought into the fold in another one of the moves that gave the roster a complete facelift.

It hasn't worked so far. The Bulls are a mess right now, and Rondo is (predictably) clouding the team with his usual drama. Chicago's offense has been stagnant since the start of the campaign, as the Bulls rank 23rd in points per game (101.2) and 27th in field goal percentage (43.6 percent). One area where hoops bettors can take some solace in this team is banking on them going UNDER totals. Chicago's 13-22-1 O/U record is the best in the league, and it will likely stay that way until head coach Fred Hoiberg can somehow figure out how to make this team run a consistent offense.