Is power shifting to the NBA East?

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With most of the sporting world’s attention still focused on football there are not many non-NBA devotees who realized we are within roughly 10 days of the NBA season reaching the mathematical midpoint of its 82-game regular season schedule.

It’s not too early to begin focusing on the Playoffs and which teams are likely to make trades over the next month and a half prior to the trade deadline while also taking time to assess the prospects of teams expected to make the post season but who continue to struggle this deep into the season.

One very interesting thing worth noting is that the balance of power may be shifting from the Western Conference to the East. For many years the top teams in the NBA were in the West. But nearly halfway through this season the teams with the two best records in the league are from the East – Milwaukee and Toronto. In fact, of the eight teams that started this week playing .600 or better basketball five of them are in the East.

Another note of interest is the Golden State, which is seeking a fourth NBA title in five seasons, is not leading the West. Nor do the Warriors have the outstanding record we’ve come to expect of them in recent seasons. Perhaps all those extra games from having made four straight NBA Finals series is catching up with them as the team, in general, ages?

At 24-13 the Warriors are having what most teams would consider an excellent season, even though they trail Denver by a half game for best record in the West. We’ve seen in the past season or two the Warriors begin to conserve their energy for the Playoffs.

There is still value in betting against the Warriors who, after covering six of seven early in the season have gone 8-18 ATS since early November. At some point there will actually be value on playing on the Warriors but we continue to wait for those signs.

Thunder at Trail Blazers (Friday): Both teams have been both shaky and streaky over the first half of the season although OKC seems to have righted itself and currently sits third in the Western Conference, starting the week 22-13. Both teams have reputations more for their offense than their play at the defensive end of the court. Yet with the league overall playing higher scoring games all season the inherent value exists in playing games Under, especially when they involve teams more noted for their offense. UNDER

Raptors at Bucks (Saturday): The top two teams in the Eastern Conference meet for the third time this season. Meeting in late October in Milwaukee and six weeks later in Toronto, the Bucks won both games by 15 and five points respectively. Toronto was favored in both cases but likely comes the underdog here as they seek to win the first of their final two meetings. A win would be important in terms of tie breakers should the teams end the regular season tied. These teams will meet again at the end of the month. RAPTORS

Lakers at Timberwolves (Sunday): The Lakers are enduring a stretch of their schedule without LeBron James who is nursing what has been described as a strained groin injury that caused him to miss the final three games of 2018. Overall, and even before the injury, the Lakers had cooled a bit with their modest 3-5 record since mid- December. Perhaps Minnesota has send a signal that things are turning around as entering the week the team had won its last three road games. These teams played home-and-home over a 10-day stretch in the season’s first month with each team winning on its home court by four points. TIMBERWOLVES

Last week: 2-1

Season: 17-15

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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