The NBA season has passed the halfway point and there is a new leader atop the standings.
Despite the absence of veteran superstar Tim Duncan for several games over the past couple of weeks, the San Antonio Spurs start this week with the best record in the league. Riding a 10 game winning streak starting this week, the Spurs are 38-11 and have a two game lead over Oklahoma City for the top seed in the Western Conference.
The defending champion Miami Heat have a narrower lead for the best mark in the Eastern Conference, leading second seeded New York by just a half game.
At 30-15 the Knicks remain one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. With teams such as the Lakers and Celtics struggling, the NBA benefits from a successful team in the nation’s largest media market. Although enjoying a successful season, the Clippers do not carry the same sizzle as their Staples Center co-tenants, the Lakers.
It’s been four decades since the Knicks last won an NBA title. And although Miami remains the solid choice to emerge from the Eastern Conference to make the NBA Finals, the Knicks have won both meetings against Miami this season – once at home and once in Miami – and each win was by 20 points.
Of course those games were played in the season’s first five weeks but the subsequent play of the Knicks may well be interpreted that those wins were not flukes. Of course the Heat would be solid favorites over the Knicks in a best of seven series.
But, as we’ve seen in many sports over the years, confidence narrows gaps in talent and tangibles. And with just under 40 games remaining much can happen to change teams’ fortunes and prospects. But at least for the short term New Yorkers can dream.
Three teams are covering at least 60 percent of its game to date, led by Oklahoma City (28-18-1 ATS). Both Golden State and Memphis are at exactly 60 percent.
There is a fourth team covering 59.6 percent of its games and that team may surprise you. This team has a SU record of just 11-35 but has been much more competitive since its star player made his current season debut. John Wall has taken the court for the Washington Wizards who are 25-17-4 ATS.
Two teams, Charlotte and Sacramento, are each covering just 36 percent of their games while the two struggling teams mentioned earlier, Boston and the Lakers, are covering a shade below 41 percent of their games.
The Dallas Mavericks have been the league’s strongest OVER team this season with at 29-17-1 for 63 percent. Golden State is the only other team that has seen at least 60 percent of its games OVER the total at 29-18 (61.7%).
Only Memphis has seen more than 60 percent of its games stay UNDER at 28-17-1 for 62.2%. At 27-18-1 UNDER, Washington has played 60 percent.
Interestingly these results show several teams at the extremes of the normal range that has the vast majority of teams covering between 40 and 60 percent of its games.
Those astute enough (or lucky enough) to have identified those extreme teams may well have profited from parlaying Golden State and the OVER, Memphis and the UNDER along with Washington and the UNDER.
The Golden State/OVER combination has cashed in 17 of the Warriors’ 47 games. The Memphis/UNDER combo has cashed in 16 of the Grizzlies’ 46. And the Washington/Under combo has cashed 14 times in 46 games.
It’s rare for teams to be at the edges of both the ATS and Total normal ranges yet more than halfway through this season there are three such teams. Although this quirk would not be expected to continue over the balance of the season it is worth paying attention to lines and totals are often determined independently of one another in terms of factoring current streaks into the equation.
If too much of an adjustment is made, we might see the opposite combination of side and total for that trio of teams produce above average results.
Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend.
Chicago at Utah (Fri): The Bulls have resembled a M*A*S*H unit over the past week or so with several key players nursing injuries, including Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer sidelined at the start of the week. That is in addition to the season long absence of Derrick Rose. Still the Bulls start the week seeded third in the East. Utah is having a typical Jazz season with an outstanding home record (17-5) and a poor road record (9-17).
Here they catch Chicago off a game a night earlier in Denver. It’s traditionally been a tough back to back situation playing in these two venues. This is a favorable situation for the hosts made even more favorable with the potential for the Bulls to be shorthanded. UTAH.
Golden St at Dallas (Sat): Golden State remains a surprising team with its current fifth place seeding in the West and a 30-17 record, including 14-11 on the road. Dallas has played better since Dirk Nowitzki was activated after an injury sidelined him for most of the season’s first half. But to give you an idea of their playoff chances, Dallas starts the week a 1½ games behind the Lakers.
As noted earlier, these teams have each been involved in at least 60 percent OVERs although their two previous meeting this season have seen 1 OVER and 1 UNDER. The Mavs begin the week on a 6-1 run to the OVER and Golden State 7-2 that way. OVER.
San Antonio at Brooklyn (Sun): Both teams are playing well of late. The Spurs start the week having won 10 in a row. Brooklyn has played solid basketball since P J Carlesimo took over as coach of the Nets, winning 14 of 19 games. After winning their first 2 games for their interim coach, the Nets were humiliated in San Antonio, losing by a 104-73 scoreBe.
Neither team has a scheduling advantage as both will be playing road games on Monday. The Nets are still an improving team and have played well in their new arena (18-8, including 9 of its last 10). BROOKLYN.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]