Is parity emerging?

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It’s way too early to draw any definitive conclusions about the new NBA season but the season has been off to an unusual start that, initially, suggests a season of parity.

Most teams have played six or seven games with only 2-3 Houston playing fewer and 5-3 Boston playing more.

Through Monday 100 games had been played and, at least initially, road teams have had early success, winning 53 of those games while going 56-44 ATS. Could this be due to the lack of fans in arenas? It’s a possibility, but it’s too early to tell. Let’s see if road team success continues at this rate of the next 100 to 150 games.

In most seasons it’s not unusual to see teams getting off to either very strong or very weak starts with teams going undefeated or winless, or have no more than one of either, 10 or 12 games into the season.

Yet through Monday night no team was unbeaten nor was any winless. In fact, 27 of the 30 teams had at least two wins and two losses. Philadelphia, at 6-1, was the only team to lose just once while a pair of teams, Detroit (1-6) and nomadic Toronto (1-5) have won just once.

Philadelphia’s start is encouraging for new coach Doc Rivers as the 76ers have been more of a disappointment the past few seasons than a pleasant surprise several years after “the process” had run its course and Philly became a legitimately competitive team and challenger in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

Toronto’s cold start may be more due to intangible factors rather than to a lack of or decline in talent. Due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions the Raptors are based indefinitely in Tampa, Florida. It would make sense that players are consciously or subconsciously distracted by not being able to see their loved ones for an extended period, resulting in a lack of full focus in practice and in games. That’s just speculation on my part but it does make sense.

Detroit’s slow start is more easily explained. The Pistons have not had a winning season since going 44-38 in 2015-16. They’ve not won a playoff game, let alone a series, since 2008 and have been swept in the opening round of their three playoff appearances since then.

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Head coach Dwane Casey took over two seasons ago and led Detroit to a 41-41 record but in the shortened 2019-20 season the team took a huge step backwards, going 20-46 and was one of the eight teams not to play in Orlando over the summer. But given Casey’s record in Toronto, where it took just three seasons to go from 23-43 to 48-34 and the first of five straight trips to the playoffs, perhaps he can get it done in Motown.

 I’m keeping my eyes on Detroit as a team that should show some modest improvement this season and, barring major extended injuries, should be a money maker ATS this season (currently 4-3). None of their losses has been by more than 10 points which suggests a certain level of competitiveness

Friday

Suns at Pistons: Phoenix is off to a 5-2 start and they’re intent upon building upon the success of the bubble last summer as they start a brief three-games-in-four-nights road trip. Devin Booker is averaging 21.1 points and slightly more than both four boards and four assists per game.

Detroit is off a pair of games against both Boston and Milwaukee, having covered the first three. Jerami Grant’s averaging 23.0 points per game for the Pistons.

Phoenix should come a modest favorite but does play at Indiana on Saturday. PISTONS

Saturday

Nuggets at 76ers: Philadelphia may have been the most impressive team over the season’s first two weeks. Not only are the 76ers 6-1 but four of the six have been by at least 15 points. Joel Embiid has been a major force, averaging 23.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. 

This will be a contrast of sorts as Philly has started 6-1 to the Under, Denver 5-1 to the Over. Philly’s playing its third game in four days and this is an afternoon start. NUGGETS

Sunday

Heat at Celtics: Miami has alternated wins and losses through its first six games with the point spread yet to matter. All but its opening game have been decided by double digits.

Boston’s dealing with early season injuries with starter Marcus Smart and reserve Jeff Teague is day-to-day while Kemba Walker is not expected to make his season debut until mid-month.

This is a weaker Celtics team than the one eliminated by the Heat in six games in the playoffs back in September. HEAT

Last week: 0-3

Season: 3-7

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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