Celtics maintaining top NBA mark

December 11, 2007 4:31 AM
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LAST WK  SEASON PCT
0-3 5-10 33.3

Boston continues to dominate the early part of the NBA season with a 17-2 start.

Only San Antonio, at 17-3, has also lost fewer than five times. The Spurs have even managed to win twice with star Tim Duncan sidelined with an injury currently described as day to day.

To be fair, Boston has only played three games against teams from the stronger Western Conference. All three games were at home and the Celts won each by double digits, defeating Denver, Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Both losses were to Eastern Conference contenders Cleveland and Orlando, each coming on the road.

Orlando remains the other pleasant Eastern Conference surprise with its 16-5 start. What makes that start all the more impressive is that the Magic have played 13 of their first 21 games on the road, going 11-2 in those contests.

In fact, the Magic have lost more times at home (3) in fewer games than they have on the road. It’s a long proven truth that if you can win on the road you can contend for a title.

Only New Orleans (8-2) and Boston (7-2) have lost as few times away from home as Boston. Even defending champion San Antonio is "just" 5-3 on the road. The other strong road team has been Phoenix at 10-3 out of the desert.

Boston and San Antonio remain the only teams yet to lose at home while Sacramento remains the only team yet to win on the road.

Through Sunday exactly 300 games have been played. Home favorites remain barely profitable overall with their 101-90-1 against the spread (ATS) record. Home underdogs are just 49-51-3 ATS. The lines maker has been perfect in splitting totals. There have been 147 OVER, 147 UNDER and 6 pushes to date

Straight up results show home teams winning 173 of the 300 games for a win percentage of 57.6. That rate is somewhat lower than in recent seasons so we can expect home teams to perform better in coming weeks. Including playoffs, over the past five seasons home teams win about 61 percent of the time.

Here’s a preview of three games this weekend.

Hornets at Mavs (Fri): New Orleans is an improving team with a 14-7 start. In fact, the Hornets begin the week a game ahead of Dallas. That lead is resulting from the 112-108 overtime win at home over the Mavericks a couple of weeks ago. It’s early and Dallas has not been playing all that well over the past two weeks, losing 6 of their last 10 games. The Mavs are 9-2 at home, however, and will now not take New Orleans lightly. Dallas will be solid favorites, but should be able to post a fairly comfortable win. MAVS.

Nuggets at Spurs (Sat): These division leaders meet for the first time since the Spurs eliminated Denver from last season’s playoffs in five games en route to their NBA title. San Antonio is playing the better basketball of late, winning 9 of their last 10 games even with star Tim Duncan sidelined. There is a good chance he’ll be back for this game but even if not, the Spurs will be solid favorites. Denver is led by the duo of Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony and a decent supporting cast. The Spurs, with or without Duncan, are the more complete team. Denver did win twice here last season, including the playoff opener. The Nuggets should be motivated and capable of delivering a good effort against the defending champions. NUGGETS.

Celtics at Raptors (Sun): These teams have already met twice this season with Boston winning by 3 in overtime at Toronto and by 28 in Boston last Friday. In the most recent outing Toronto was without a couple of key players including star Chris Bosh. Bosh returned on Sunday to lead the Raptors over Houston. The lines maker has caught up with the outstanding early season play of the Celtics and Boston likely comes favored by a bucket or two in this contest. When healthy, Toronto is a pretty good team. Considering the blowout loss last week and the competitiveness in their first meeting the Raptors are in an excellent spot to pull off the mild upset. RAPTORS.