Early pro basketball results suggest power in West Conference

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Nearly a third of the shortened NBA regular season has been played as we get set for February.

Early season results suggest the balance of power remains in the Western Conference where 10 of the 15 teams have winning records, including Oklahoma City whose 16-3 mark is best in the league.

In the Eastern Conference only 6 of the 15 teams have winning records and there is a much greater gap between the top teams and the rest of the conference. At 17-5 Chicago has the East’s best mark but Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Indiana are all within two and half games.

Things are getting ugly in Orlando where C Dwight Howard has seemingly become a divisive influence with his demand to be traded. Much like the situation in Denver last season when star Carmelo Anthony made similar demands the Magic are suffering on the court. Although they are off to a 12-8 start the past week has been ugly.

After an embarrassing 87-56 loss at Boston last Monday the Magic summoned up some pride to win by 19 points at Indiana the next night. But two days later, in a home rematch with the Celtics, Orlando blew a 21 point halftime lead and lost 91-83, being held to just 8 points in the fourth quarter and 25 for the second half.

The next night they were held to just 67 points in a 26 point loss at lowly New Orleans and on Sunday Indiana gained a measure of same week revenge with a 21 point loss at the Magic.

It may be only a matter of weeks – perhaps days – before coach Stan van Gundy is made the scapegoat and relieved of his coaching duties. And considering what’s he’s been enduring van Gundy may indeed look at his dismissal as a relief.

Of course, it’s the NBA so Orlando could turn things around quickly and with games this week against Washington and Cleveland the Magic may find a temporary elixir for their woes.

Home teams continue to enjoy a slight edge over road teams in terms of ATS success but their margin is just 156-141 and a push. Blindly betting either home teams or road teams would not show a profit to date.

That’s not the case with Totals as UNDER continues to outpace OVER by a rather healthy margin. Through 298 games there have been 167 games staying UNDER and just 128 going OVER, with three pushes. That’s a rate of nearly 57 percent UNDER.

We are still three weeks away from the All Star break with the festivities taking place in Orlando. By that time we may have a much better indication of which of the early season surprises will be able to maintain their improvement and which of the early season disappointing teams have major cause for concern.

Such teams could include Orlando and almost certainly will include the New York Knicks. Having lost 9 of 10 through last Sunday, the Knicks would have to be classified as the biggest early season disappointment. They are 5-1 against teams that have won less than a third of their games, just 2-12 against everybody else.

Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend.

FRIDAY

Miami at Philadelphia: Philly is 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS as underdogs this season. Their coach, Doug Collins, has a great understanding of the game and has shown a solid ability to make adjustments. We could see the Sixers slow the pace and continue their tendency to play low scoring games at home. For the season as hosts, 10 of 12 games have stayed UNDER including 5 straight entering this week. UNDER.

SATURDAY

OKC at San Antonio: Oklahoma City starts the week having won 11 of 12 games, including a 108-96 home win over the Spurs nearly a month ago. The Spurs are still without Manu Ginobili, a key cog in their offense. The Thunder has been winning by margins with each of the last 7 wins by 9 or more points. The Spurs have been more of an up tempo team this season which suits the Thunder just fine and likely means a high scoring game here. OVER.

SUNDAY

Memphis at Boston: Memphis has also been a very streaky team, losing three in a row before winning 7 straight and then losing 3 more in a row entering this week. The scheduling spot somewhat favors Boston although both teams last played Friday night. However Memphis played at Oklahoma City and hosts San Antonio on Monday. Boston has been solid defensively and had not allowed more than 97 points since the second game of the season. BOSTON.

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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