Post All-Star NBA Breakdown: First Quarter And First Half ATS Records

  • The Phoenix Suns are the best team in the NBA at covering first quarter spreads.
  • The San Antonio Spurs are the worst team in the NBA at covering first quarter spreads.
  • The New York Knicks are the best team in the NBA at covering first-half spreads.

LAS VEGAS - The NBA season is almost 2/3rds of the way done, given that it’s a shortened season this year.

This means that there is starting to be a large enough sample size to take a look at which teams have the best and worst first quarters and first halves, and why.

Let’s get into it.

Best First Quarter ATS Team: Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns came out of nowhere this year, and in terms of covering first quarter spreads, they have been excellent.

The Suns have a 30-13 record against the spread in first quarters, which matches up generally with their overall record of 29-14 ATS.

In other words, this isn’t necessarily a comment on the Suns being particularly elite in first quarters, but more a comment on how they continue to surprise oddsmakers with their overall performance this season.

The Suns are showing no signs of slowing down either, with a 7-3 record against the spread in their last ten first quarters - this team is for real, and their spread covering proficiency fills all areas of the stat sheet.

The online sportsbooks have certainly adjusted their expectations for the Suns, but the Suns are managing to continually exceed them.

The Suns are also the third best team in the league in terms of covering first-half spreads, which goes along with the theory that their performance against first-half and first quarter spreads is more related to their overall ATS performance than any specific tendency to come out of the gate hot.

Worst First Quarter ATS Team: San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs are the worst team at covering first quarter spreads in the entire NBA, with a record of 13-28 ATS in the first quarter of games.

The Spurs are 23-18 ATS overall, so this actually does seem to be a quirk of how they play the game of basketball.

The discrepancy between their overall ATS record and their first-quarter ATS record is alarming, and some of this is due to just how many Spurs games tend to come down to the final minutes.

The Spurs seem to come out of the gate slow, and then fight their way back into games, and they’ve performed well in those circumstances.

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In fact, Basketball Reference projects that the Spurs should have a 19-22 record when they actually have a record of 22-19.

Their ability to win close games is a blessing and a curse, and it’s letting them get away with their slow starts.

Best First Half ATS Team: New York Knicks

It’s not a surprise to see one of the surprisingly good teams this season show up at the top of the first half ATS rankings.

The Knicks are absolutely crushing spreads in the first half, with a record of 28-14-2 against the spread.

Overall, the Knicks are 25-18-1 against the spread, so they’re performing a bit better against first-half spreads than full game spreads.

Of course, both of those outcomes are in range of one another, and the difference between them could be statistical noise.

The throughline here is that both in terms of first-quarter spreads and first half spreads, the best team is a team that has covered a lot of full game spreads as well.

Worst First Half ATS Team: Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards are bad at a lot of things, and covering first-half spreads is certainly one of those things.

The intriguing aspect of the Wizards in terms of covering first half spreads, however, is that they’re basically dead even in terms of full game spreads.

The Wizards are 21-21 against the spread in full games, but only 14-27-1 against the spread in the first half of games.

This is an intriguing differential, and unlike with the Spurs, the reasons aren’t immediately obvious.

The data is certainly pointing at something, however, and NBA betting enthusiasts should take note.