The mathematical midpoint of the NBA’s 82-game regular season is about two weeks away as most teams have played between 32 and 36 games.
The balance of power remains in the Western Conference with 10 of the 15 teams playing at least .500 basketball, including Oklahoma City, which has evened its record after playing a significant part of the early season without two of the league’s best players, last season’s MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Contrast that to the Eastern Conference where just 6 teams have winning records.
More to the point, the gap between the conferences is reflected in the record of games between Eastern and Western Conference teams. In 194 such games through Sunday the Western teams are 122-72 SU (63 percent).
Here in Nevada, where the point spread is the great equalizer, the gap is not nearly as large. In fact, Western Conference teams are just 100-90 ATS when playing teams from the East. Blindly backing Western teams would have you up by just one net unit over nearly 200 plays.
On a league wide basis, using closing numbers from the Westgate, road teams hold a decent edge over home teams in the point spread battles, with an ATS record of 270-231-7 (53.9 percent).
One “trend” that is developing is the poor performance of home underdogs, historically the best performing of the four major point spread categories. Through more than 150 games, home underdogs are just 68-90-3 ATS, covering at a rate of just 43.0 percent. Home teams are winning just over 21 percent of those games straight up.
The Straight Up result compares to the much greater rates of the past four seasons that ranged between 34.1 percent and 37.0 percent. The ATS range over the past 4 seasons was between 48.4 percent and 49.5 percent.
Could it be that Road Favorites are becoming the new “value” play?
The lines maker has done a much better job in setting Totals with 245 games going OVER, 249 staying UNDER and 14 ending in pushes. In a linesmaker’s perfect world, all results including team, totals, situational, etc. would produce the same number of winners as losers. This, of course, is an unrealistic expectation but the results to date insofar as totals are concerned is most impressive.
And, often frustrating for bettors.
Here’s a look at three interesting matchups this weekend.
Atlanta at Detroit (Fri.): Atlanta has been one of the best teams in the East since the start of the season, a surprise to many longtime observers of the NBA game. They have some very good players but nobody that can be classified as elite.
Detroit started the season poorly which also surprised many considering that former successful coach Stan van Gundy was taking over. Poor team chemistry may have been the problem and just before Christmas veteran Josh Smith was released.
The Pistons have since gone 5-0 both SU and ATS with all wins by 10 points or more. Atlanta won the first meeting as hosts in mid-November by 10 points. The Pistons are currently a ‘play on’ team and will be worth backing in a game that should be priced close to pick ‘em. DETROIT.
Milwaukee at Chicago (Sat.): As the season approaches its midpoint Milwaukee remains a pleasant surprise with its winning record (18-17). The Bucks’ season win total was 24 yet new coach Jason Kidd is making a major difference as the team is on course to make the Playoffs.
Chicago has been an Eastern contender all season and currently is tied with Toronto for second place in the conference, behind only Atlanta. The Bulls have contended with nagging injuries all season yet continue to play well. Chicago won the only prior game this season, 95-86 at Milwaukee in early November.
Both teams played Friday night so neither has a scheduling advantage although the Bulls faced the much tougher foe. Chicago will be a solid favorite in this game (they were favored by 5.5 on the road in the first meeting). MILWAUKEE.
Miami at LA Clippers (Sun.): The departure of LeBron James is finally being felt by Miami as the Heat, following a modest 9-7 start, have dropped 13 of 19 games since the start of December. The Clippers are winning better than 2 of every 3 games but are just 14-20 ATS and have not been trustworthy favorites over the past few weeks, going just 4-7 ATS in that role over the past month.
LAC did win the earlier meeting in Miami 110-93 just before Thanksgiving. There seems to be something missing thus far as the Clippers often look as thought they are just going through the motions. Miami, led by Chris Bosh, continues to play hard in its effort to show they can be a competitive team even without the “King.”
The Clippers hosted Dallas on Saturday whereas Miami has been off since Thursday and will face the Lakers on Tuesday on this same court. MIAMI.
Last Week: 0-2
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]