NBA Road Records
JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
CHAMPIONS KNOW HOW TO WIN ON THE ROAD IN THE NBA
In the past few weeks we've talked about some general themes handicappers should be using to evaluate NBA teams.
- Point Differential, because that's a virtual power rating that tells you the statistical difference between teams. We use the same thing in college hoops. But, we only use "conference" games in the colleges because pre-conference strengths of schedule are so varied. In the NBA, most teams end up playing very similar schedules, so you can trust the numbers.
- Wins Minus Home Games Played, because home/road splits do get varied midseason, and the newspaper standings can create illusions that can hurt your handicapping performance. This stat forces you to notice that Denver or the LA Clippers have played a lot more home games than road games, and you have to adjust for that in your evaluation process.
- Record the Last 20 Games (though we'll sometimes use last 30, or the most recent month), because recent form plays a huge factor in NBA performance, Once you're into February, it just doesn't matter what happened back in November. Cleveland seemed like they might be a borderline playoff contender back then. Nobody was taking Chicago as seriously as they should. Focusing on more recent hunks keeps you in touch with what's happening NOW.
Today we're going to add in another of our favorites. We've had great success over the years with this as a predictive tool in the playoffs. Very simply, ROAD RECORD. If you can win on the road, you're capable of great things. If you're only winning your home games, you're probably going to be exposed as a pretender come playoff time.
Here are the ROAD only records through Wednesday Night's action...
Let's stop right there at the .500 mark. There are only five teams in the East with a winning record on the road heading into the weekend. And, that's obviously the short list of contenders to win the conference come playoff time.
Boston is a few games ahead of Miami in the overall standings. It's interesting though that the Heat are just percentage points behind Boston in their "challenge" games away from home. The Heat have taken their eye off the ball in a couple of extra home games (and have been battling injuries and growing pains). Though we think Boston currently has the better championship hopes because they've been playing so long together and have a proven plan in crunch time...we're impressed with what Miami has done on the road.
Partly based on this stat, we consider Miami the true #2 seed, even if Chicago's getting a lot of good press now, and Orlando is seen as a serious threat since that trade a few weeks ago helped get everyone on the same page.
New York 12-13
New Jersey 3-23
There will be quite a playoff race for spots #6-7-8 in the Eastern brackets. The teams competing just aren't serious threats to do any damage in the postseason though. New York doesn't match up well with the class of the East. Everyone else has pretty embarrassing road records!
Isn't it amazing that you can go 3-23 on the road and only be THIRD WORST in the East?! Toronto is pretty helpless at 5-21, but has four teams below them.
San Antonio 15-6
LA Lakers 15-8
Oklahoma City 13-10
Just like in the East, we only have five teams at .500 or better on the road over here in the West. And, just like in the East, the two teams at the top are closer together on the road than they are overall. The Lakers have had some inexplicable losses at home this season. The team is probably pacing itself for the postseason. Ron Artest in particular wants to chase every squirrel that goes by until they're playing for a trophy. It's interesting that he and the team have been more focused on the road when they're in hotels than at home with all the local "distractions."
Dallas is a definite darkhorse with that .667 win percentage. That's very strong for a #3 team. Now that Dirk Nowitzki is healthy again, you can see this team doing some damage down the road. If the Lakers really have gotten too old, it's the Mavericks who are most ready to step into the breach based on this statistic (plus the surprisingly soft defense of Oklahoma City).
Utah is in the mix, but this is a team that's really struggled on the road lately. You'll recall they lost all four games on a recent Eastern swing. They just fell at Golden State last week. They've limped to this 12-12 mark after a great start. When you stir in "recent form," the Jazz fall off the pace in our view. We don't currently see them as a real threat in the playoffs.
New Orleans 12-14
Golden State 6-17
LA Clippers 3-15
New Orleans is disappointing because they've had some really good results this year. It's not enough to crack the .500 mark on the road though. We'll root for Chris Paul as much as anyone. And, the new head coach sure has our attention. He'll have it more if the team can pass .500 on the road.
Denver should jump out at you from this list. The Nuggets would be a 6th seed in the West if the playoffs started today, but they have the road record of a non-playoff team. They also have a home/road split that favors them too, as we discussed in a recent article (thought it's down to 26-23 for home and road games after a recent trip). Maybe the team will storm down the stretch if Carmelo stays with the franchise and everyone decides to give it one last shot. We'll watch that closely. Right now, this team probably isn't as good as you think they are when they travel.
Oh...Blake Griffin puts on a great show. Jump out of your seat as his dunks. High five your buddies after the alley-oops. Just be aware that the Clippers are 3-15 on the road...and have a ridiculous 30-18 home/road split in their early season schedule. They'll soon be making up those 12 road games...and they'll be doing it with a team that's only 3-15 away from home so far! The Clippers are a show right now, they're not a meaningful team until they start winning road games.
We hope you'll think about road records and the "true quality" of teams as you handicap tonight's card. There are several games of interest for JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK:
Dallas at Boston on ESPN (championship preview?)
Utah at Denver on ESPN
New York at Philadelphia (Knicks in a tailspin)
Miami at Charlotte (back-to-back test for Heat)
Oklahoma City at Phoenix (great show!)
San Antonio at Sacramento (night after Lakers for SA)
In fact, the card is so strong tonight we'll be releasing one of our biggest pro basketball picks of the entire season! This GAME OF THE MONTH caliber selection will be available a few hours before the first games tip off tonight. Have your credit card handy when you log in this afternoon.
We'll be following Friday Night Fever up with a Saturday Stunner in the colleges. We'll preview Kentucky/Florida here in the NOTEBOOK, but that blowout cover could come from anywhere on the card.
Sunday finally brings the SUPER BOWL, and JIM HURLEY'S UNMATCHED LIFETIME RECORD in the biggest legal betting game of the year. We'll provide our stat preview for Green Bay/Pittsburgh Sunday here in the NOTEBOOK. Our SIDE & TOTAL PARLAY will be available before lunchtime for credit card purchase.
It's the biggest weekend of the year in the world of sports...NBA...COLLEGE HOOPS...and THE SUPER BOWL. Don't make a move until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!
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