This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
We're entering the third week of the season, and the increased sample size can help us get a feel for what's real. Three teams remain undefeated against the spread, exceeding expectations. They're the Suns, Heat and Lakers. On the other hand, the Rockets are the only team remaining that has yet to pick up a win against the spread, but I'll be picking them to correct that trend Monday. Every team has hit the under at least once so far, but the Jazz, Magic and Hawks have yet to claim an over.
With more to go off of, I'll be hoping to get back on track after starting the first two weeks 12-15-1 ATS.
76ers at Suns, under 223.5 – FanDuel/DraftKings 12:24PM CT
While these teams both play at a relatively fast pace – the Suns ranking 12th-fastest and the 76ers ranking fifth-fastest – they've also established themselves as quality defenses. Both teams are top-seven in terms of defensive rating. While the 76ers missing Joel Embiid due to suspension makes them weaker on defense, it also weakens their offense. I'm choosing to view it as a wash in that sense. Also, Phoenix and Philly are a combined 3-8 against the over this season and, if you choose to believe the referees have influence, the crew assigned to this game has a 96-112 record against the over across the past two seasons. The over/under here started at 223 and is moving up, so it actually may be beneficial to wait until tipoff to take the under, as the number may continue to increase.
Rockets (-5.5) at Grizzlies – FanDuel/DraftKings 8:56 AM CT
Both of these teams have been disappointing, going a combined 1-10 against the spread. There are a pair of significant absences for this one, with Russell Westbrook out for rest and Jaren Jackson out due to a knee injury. The Rockets defense is horrendous, and that makes them hard to trust. But I think much of their offensive struggles have come due to the presence of Westbrook and the attempt to integrate him into the offense. Without Westbrook for Monday's game, the Rockets may be able to revert back to themselves from last season. James Harden is shooting just 37.1 FG%, and Eric Gordon is an even worse 27.4 FG%. Those are going to come up eventually, and I'm hoping for the positive regression to occur in this situation.