NBA: Top Dogs At The First Half
by Nick Parsons
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Let's take a quick look at the Division leaders after the first half of the 2008/09 NBA season.
From the East we have Boston with a 44-11 record, Cleveland nipping at its heels with a 40-11 mark and Orlando from the Southeast at 38-13.
The Lakers lead the West, and in fact have the league's best record, at 42-10, followed by Denver at 36-17 and then the always consistent San Antonio Spurs at 35-16 round off the top teams in the NBA thus far.
Those of course are the "straight up" records, so let's see what each has done "against the spread":
Boston: 31-24 ATS overall; 16-12 ATS at home and 15-12 ATS on the road.
Cleveland: 33-18 ATS overall; 19-6 ATS at home and 14-12 ATS on the road.
Orlando: 33-17-1 ATS overall; 16-10 ATS at home and 17-7-1 ATS on the road.
LA: 26-25-1 ATS overall; 13-15 ATS at home and 13-10-1 ATS on the road.
Denver: 31-21-1 ATS overall; 15-10-1 ATS at home and 16-11 ATS on the road.
San Antonio: 25-24-2 ATS overall; 10-14-1 ATS at home and 15-10-1 ATS on the road.
When I look at these ATS stats, there is one very glaring, and important piece of information that jumps off the page to me, and something that we all should keep a closer eye on in the second half; each of these teams has a dominating ATS 'home record' except the Lakers and the Spurs.
Three teams that have surprised me in the first half are the Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets, and all for different reasons.
Obviously Washington has been decimated with injuries and is a shell of its former self, but I would never have thought it would have gotten this bad as they sit tied with Sacramento with only 11 total victories at the half way point.
Denver has had all the pieces to make a big push as becoming one of the leagues top teams, but has not lived up to that potential until perhaps they made the Iverson/Billups trade. Chauncey seems to be a great fit for the Nuggets.
But to me the biggest surprise thus far has to be Atlanta with a 31-21 mark which is good enough for second spot in the Southeast, seven games behind the Magic.
The Hawks are sitting pretty at the All-Star break, holding down the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, which is their best mark at this point in the season since 1996-97.
Atlanta went 37-45 a year ago, which doesn't sound all that impressive until you consider where the Hawks were coming from. They went 13-69 during the 2004-05 season, Josh Smith's rookie year.
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