Bottom line: It’s a 50-50 chance

Apr 2, 2002 11:08 AM

The linesmaker has done an excellent job of balancing overall pointspread results as we approach the end of the regular season.

Through this past weekend home teams have covered 511 games and road teams have covered 524 games with 21 games ending in pointspread pushes.

Over/Under results have been even more well-balanced with 523 games going OVER the total points and 522 games ending UNDER. There have been 11 pushes against the total number.

Within these results there are some overachieving teams with significantly profitable pointÂí­spread results against either the line or total. Likewise several teams have greatly underachieved vs. the pointspread.

Through this past weekend Âí­Seattle had the league’s best record against the spread at 44-30 (59 percent), followed closely by Sacramento at 41-29-2 (58 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum the league’s costliest team to back has been the New York Knicks. Their 26-45-1 ATS mark represents just a 37 percent success rate.

The teams showing the greatest profitability going OVER the total are Dallas 50-23 (68 percent), Golden State 44-27-2 (62 percent) and Cleveland 43-30 (59 percent).

The UNDER players have profited most from playing Toronto, which stands 30-42-1 (58 percent).

By this weekend less than two weeks will remain in the regular season. The West seems to have things a bit more settled in that the eight teams making the playoffs are pretty much set. The top four seed have distanced themselves from the bottom four teams, but none of the seeds are secure.

The East is much more up for grabs in terms of which eight teams will make the playoffs. New Jersey has a 2 ½- game lead over Detroit for the conference’s top seed although each is in pretty good shape to win in their respective divisions.

Here’s a look at three matchups for the weekend.

 Friday, April 5

Kings at Jazz: Utah is closing in on the eighth and final playoff berth, while Sacramento is battling for both a Division title and the league’s top overall seed. The Kings wind up a six game road trip and are playing their third game in four nights. Despite missing Peja Stojakovic, Sacramento won the first three games of the road trip entering the week.

The Kings are 3-0 against the Jazz, with each result decided by at least 14 points. Utah still relies on the ageless duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton. The Kings have gotten the expected outstanding contribution from Chris Webber and excellent court leadership from the backcourt of Mike Bibby and Doug Christie. Utah’s best chance is to control the tempo which portends a low score. The first three games had totals slightly above 200. Take UNDER.

Saturday, April 6

Mavs at Spurs: Both teams are contending for Division and Conference honors as they meet for the fourth time this season. The road team is 3-0 in the series, though the victories are by a combined eight points. Each game has gone Over the posted total but two were close. Dallas has the better talent but the Spurs have the big edge inside with Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

Dallas begins the week with a two game lead over San Antonio and should be small underdogs here. The Mavericks should be well rested following a home game the other night against the Clippers, which followed a 3-1 road trip. Dallas has the best road record in the league, having won 23 of 35 games. Take MAVERICKS.

 Sunday, April 7

Celtics at Nets: The race for the Atlantic title could be virtually wrapped up with a New Jersey win. The Nets begin the week with a five game lead over the Celtics with eight games to play. New Jersey also has to be concerned about Detroit in the race for the top seed in the East. New Jersey hosts Detroit the night before the regular season ends.

Boston is assured of its first winning record in almost a decade and currently holds the third seed in the East. The Celtics, led by Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, also possess a solid bench. New Jersey is well balanced and likely to win at least 50 games this season after having lost 56 last season. The reason for the turnaround is the play and leadership of Jason Kidd ”” this columnist’s clear cut choice for league MVP. Boston leads the series 2-1. The Nets are 11-1 in their last 12 home games. Only Sacramento has a better home record. Take NETS.