Expert NBA Handicapping: Odd Record Splits
If you have watched the NBA for a while, then you probably know how you expect things to generally turn out in the league. Western Conference teams generally do well against the East. Teams are usually better at home than on the road. Familiarity usually makes a team's own division competitive. Most teams fit into those expectations and others like them. When a team doesn't, then, it becomes very interesting from a betting perspective. Why is the oddity happening? And, more importantly, how can we profit from that? Here is a look at six odd record splits in the league as of Monday, Dec. 17:
Sacramento Kings: The Kings are a playoff team right now, which is almost impossibly odd in and of itself. But one thing that stands out among the many oddities on this team is that they are better on the road than at home. That's not unique to them, but the other teams that are doing so are struggling overall. But the Kings are 7-6 at home and 9-7 on the road. For a team that had a chronic lack of toughness for years, this is a real turnaround. Now, there is a bit of an asterisk here. The sample size is still pretty small, so things can get skewed a bit. They are 4-1 in their last five road games, but those wins are against Phoenix, Cleveland, Chicago and Dallas, so they aren't exactly dominating the cream of the crop. On the road against likely playoff teams, they are an ugly 1-5.
Dallas Mavericks: The Mavs have won an impressive 13 home games. Only the 76ers, with 14, can claim more home wins. That's impressive. But all is not rosy. On the road they are an incredibly ugly 2-10. Only the pitiful Suns have fewer road wins. For a team to be tied for the second most home wins, and tied for the second fewest road wins, is something that should be impossible. Sure, the road is harder, but it's not this much harder. And Dallas famously travels with more comforts than other teams, so there aren't a lot of excuses. Maybe the return of Dirk will provide a more calming influence and get things back on track.
Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are 14-3 against Eastern Conference foes and have lost only once against teams in each division. If you look at that in isolation, then this is a truly elite team. But you can't play in the NBA without playing Western Conference teams, and that has been a lot less impressive. The Pacers are just 6-7 against the West, and they don't have a winning record against any division. And when you look a little closer you will see that the wins haven't come against the best the West has to offer.
San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are 13-10 against the West. That is far from where they once were. However, given their issues and their rough transition to their next era, that's just fine. If they could maintain that kind of win rate, they would likely be a playoff team this year. But against the East they are just 2-5. There is no excuse for that for a Western Conference team. They have a decent win against Indiana, but the other Eastern win is against the Bulls, so it hardly counts. And they somehow have home losses to both the Magic and the Bulls. Ouch. The sample size is small, but what has happened so far sure makes it tough to buy into this team.
Miami Heat: This might be the most bizarre one yet. We could talk about how this team is 5-9 at home and 8-7 on the road, but there is something far odder. The team is a really ugly 5-12 against their own Eastern Conference. That is a long way from good. The only thing that is salvaging things somewhat and at least sort of keeping them in the playoff race is that they are 8-4 against the West. If you are counting along at home, that's a .667 win percentage against the West and a .294 against their own conference. Just ridiculous. Now, they have managed to avoid most of the best teams in the league so far, so the schedule is in their favor. But this split is still just bizarre.
Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers are 5-1 in limited action against the West so far. They are a stellar 7-1 against the weak Southeast Division. The 6-4 record against the Central Division is a little lower than ideal but is still just fine. Add all that up, and you have a team that is 18-6 and looks very much like the title contender they want to be. But against their own division, where familiarity should give them an edge, they are a woeful 2-5. They have lost to Toronto twice and Boston once in the only three meetings with the elite of the division. They did beat the Knicks in their only meeting, but they are 1-2 against a lousy Brooklyn squad. You play more division games than anything else, so not taking care of business there is really going to hurt your chances overall. They are still one of the best teams in the conference, but home court will be so key for the top four teams in the East in the playoffs, and this is not helping their cause.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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