Almost two months into the NBA season and the astonishing domination of Eastern Conference teams by Western Conference teams continues.
Through Sunday Western teams had won 91 of 134 games against teams from the East, or nearly 68 percent of such games. The point spread results have not been quite as one sided but the Western teams’ 72-59-3 ATS record in these games is still a profitable 55 percent.
The average margin over the 134 games has been 4.5 points. We have seen 73 of the 134 games (54.5 percent) go OVER the Total which is a shade higher than the overall results of 53.1 percent resulting from 215 OVER and 190 UNDER for the league as a whole.
In line with these results scoring overall is up by slightly more than a trey per game. The average total points thus far is 199.6 ppg, up from 196.2 for the regular season last season.
Atlanta has started to separate itself from the rest of the weak Eastern Conference to join powers Indiana and Miami as only the third team in the conference with a winning record. But at 15-12 the Hawks still have a sizeable deficit to overcome before even remotely entertaining thoughts of being a contender. Atlanta trails 22-5 Indiana by 7 games and 20-6 Miami by 5.5 games in their quest to form a contending trio.
To further illustrate the gap between the East and West consider that the Hawks’ 15-12 record would find them not qualifying for the Playoffs in the Western Conference as the number eight seed. Currently Denver sits eighth in the West at 14-12, having played one less game than Atlanta.
Since last week’s column was published the two remaining teams that were unbeaten at home both lost. Indiana was upset last Monday by Detroit and Oklahoma City was upset this past Sunday by Toronto.
Illustrating the importance of scheduling dynamics neither loss could be construed as a total surprise. Detroit caught Indiana playing just two nights before the Pacers were to play in Miami. And Toronto caught OKC just one night after the Thunder had a big road win at powerful San Antonio.
Carrying this theme of momentum a step further it will be interesting to note if Toronto itself had a letdown on Monday night when the Raptors were in San Antonio to face the Spurs in San Antonio’s next game following their home loss to the Thunder.
Road teams continue to reward backers at the betting windows, covering 223 of the 399 point spread decisions that did not result in a push. That’s a rate of 56 percent, ignoring pushes, and is likely to be unsustainable over the balance of the season, suggesting some upcoming value in backing home teams.
Both road favorites and road underdogs are covering at nearly the same 55 to 56 percent clip with road favorites 68-55-2 ATS and road underdogs 150-120-4 ATS through Sunday.
With no football and only a handful of college basketball games being played the NBA gets the spotlight on Christmas Day with a quintet of games starting at 9:05 Pacific time in the morning and ending about 13 hours later.
Unfortunately key injuries and poor starts by several of the teams have these matchups not nearly as attractive as they appeared to be prior to the start of the season.
But it’s good to have the NBA back in the sporting spotlight as football winds down and a new calendar year is about to begin.
Here’s a look at three attractive games to be played this weekend.
Phoenix at Golden State (Fri.): Phoenix has been a major early season surprise with its 16-10 record after being projected to win just 21.5 game for the entire season. Golden State has struggled over the first part of the season and starts the week just 15-13 despite its projected wins total of 51.5. Phoenix won the teams’ first meeting just over a week ago, 106-102, covering as slight 1 point home underdogs.
The Warriors have yet to regain the chemistry that marked their play over the latter part of last season. They remain a very talented team and are better than the Suns. They are likely to be favored by a few baskets and should be able to exact some measure of revenge. GOLDEN ST.
Brooklyn at Indiana (Sat.): The situation gets worse for Brooklyn as center Brook Lopez is out for the season following a foot fracture. The Nets had started to play better over the past couple of weeks but that’s only in relation to their prior play. Indiana is tied with Portland and Oklahoma City with just 5 losses with both their depth and their defense defining their success.
The Nets remains a team in transition with many new faces and rookie coach Jason Kidd who is still learning the ropes on the bench. Indiana won the teams’ first meeting 96-91 on the road in early November. The Pacers lead the NBA in allowing just 89.5 points per game. And now they face a weaker Nets team without their big man. UNDER.
Houston at OKC (Sun.): The Rockets and Thunder meet for the first time this season. Houston has battled injuries for much of the season but still has started 18-10. Ex-Thunder James Harden could be questionable for this game after being listed as out for Monday’s game against Dallas. But PG Jeremy Lin is expected to be back. Oklahoma City finally lost its first home game on Sunday after starting 13-0.
The Thunder have a formidable scoring duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant but their depth is a concern. Both teams are among the top teams in scoring which suggests this should be a high scoring game played at a faster than average pace. OVER.
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]