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Biggest surprises, NBA betting trends at All-Star break

As the NBA enters All-Star weekend, it’s no surprise that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the odds-on favorite (-600) to repeat as league MVP and the Lakers (+250), Bucks (+275) and Clippers (+300) are the leading contenders to win the NBA title.

But there have been plenty of surprises this season. Here are eight of them, in honor of Kobe Bryant’s original uniform number.

1. The Philadelphia 76ers have the league’s best home record (25-2) but one of the worst road records (9-19) and worst spread records (22-29-4 ATS). Barring a 22-5 finish, they’ll go under their season win total of 55, which was second-highest in the league behind Milwaukee. The Bucks (46-8, 31-23 ATS) can go 12-16 the rest of the way and still finish over 57½ wins.

“We’re still of the belief that Philadelphia is the only team with a realistic shot of beating Milwaukee in a seven-game series (in the East),” said Jeff Sherman, Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk. “But the Sixers need a new coach if they want to contend this season.”

The Lakers, Bucks and Clippers are the only teams with single-digit NBA title odds. After that, the numbers soar to 20-1 for the Sixers, Celtics (37-16), Rockets (34-20) and Nuggets (38-17).

2. The reigning NBA champion Raptors (40-15) are off to a better start than last season without NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who is managing his load on the Los Angeles Clippers. Toronto, 31-24 ATS, had its franchise-record 15-game winning streak snapped in a loss at Brooklyn on Wednesday and should fly over its win total of 46.

“They’ve had guys miss time, too,” Sherman said. “All you can do is credit (coach) Nick Nurse and the job he’s doing.”

3. The Warriors (12-43) have the league’s worst record and have lost more games this season than they did in three seasons combined (207-39) from 2014 to 2017.

Golden State, which lost Steph Curry to a broken hand four games into the season, is guaranteed to finish under its win total of 47. But Sherman expects them to be back in contention next season with a healthy Curry and Klay Thompson and a high draft pick.

“They can always trade the top draft pick and get another veteran player and their odds will be right at the top of the NBA next season,” Sherman said.

4. The Thunder were expected to take a step back after trading Russell Westbrook to the Rockets for Chris Paul. But Oklahoma City (32-22) already has tied its season win total (32) and has the NBA’s best ATS record at 35-19 (64.8 percent).

“We expected them to make trades with the type of team they had, and they did not,” Sherman said.

5. Memphis had the league’s fourth-lowest win total (27½), but the Grizzlies (28-26) already have eclipsed their number and have the eighth playoff spot in the West. Memphis has the NBA’s fourth-best spread record (30-23-1), and point guard Ja Morant — averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists — is the -700 favorite to earn Rookie of the Year honors. Preseason Rookie of the Year favorite Zion Williamson, the 4-1 second choice, has played only nine games for the New Orleans Pelicans.

“(Memphis’ success) is a credit to what Ja Morant is doing and some of their other young guys,” Sherman said. “They’re an extremely young team that is really out there playing hard night in, night out and competing with veteran teams.”

6. Miami is 22-3 at home and 35-19 overall after finishing 39-43 last season. The Heat, whose win total is 44½, are 29-23-2 ATS after adding Jimmy Butler and rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, who went undrafted but is the 20-1 third choice to win Rookie of the Year. Miami has a 31-22-1 over-under record.

7. Dallas (33-22) already has equaled its win total from last season (33-49) behind guard Luka Doncic (28.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 8.7 apg) and is on pace to eclipse this season’s win total of 42½. The high-flying Mavericks, third in the league in scoring (116.2 ppg), have the NBA’s best over-under mark (35-20) and are 29-23-3 ATS.

8. Explosive Houston is second in the league in scoring (118.2 ppg) but has the worst over-under record at 23-31.

Contact Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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