The NBA’s Eastern Conference is having so much trash talk thrown its way, you’d swear it was guarding Gary Payton.
Players, pundits and fans are blasting the quality of basketball in the East, which heading into Saturday’s schedule has just three teams with winning records - the Indiana Pacers (17-2), Miami Heat (14-5) and Atlanta Hawks (11-10). The other Eastern teams that were supposed to contend – Chicago, Brooklyn, New York - are a combined 18-36 SU.
Its Western Conference cousin, on the other hand, has 10 teams above .500 and one other at 9-9. That makes for some lopsided records when the NBA’s two factions face off. Heading into Saturday, Eastern Conference teams are just 27-64 SU and 37-53-1 ATS versus Western Conference teams – covering just 41 percent of the time in non-conference play.
On the road, visiting Western squads, Eastern Conference members are 18-25 SU and 14-29 ATS (33 percent) this season. However, while Western competition is an outstanding 39-9 SU on the road against Eastern foes, the West is only 24-23-1 ATS.
This one-sided dominance is nothing new to the NBA. The West has long been the deeper conference of the two. Looking back over the previous five seasons (2008-09 – 2012-13), the East is just 926-1,144 SU and 993-1,039-38 ATS – a 48 percent ATS winning rate. The East was actually 560-475 SU at Western opposition in that frame, but just 491-525-19 ATS (48 percent). The East went 366-669 SU and 502-514-19 ATS hosting Western teams in that five-season span.
The best East-at-West bets since 2008-09 aren’t necessarily the Eastern Conference’s elite. The Orlando Magic have a 40-33-1 ATS road record against the Western Conference while the New York Knicks (39-33-1 ATS) and Toronto Raptors (38-33-2 ATS) round out the top three.
The biggest Western Conference bullies when heading into Eastern areas are the Utah Jazz, who have gone 44-26-1 ATS versus the Eastern Conference on the road since 2008-09. The Golden State Warriors (43-28-0 ATS) and San Antonio Spurs (43-28-2 ATS) have all been solid road best at Eastern venues.
As for taking advantage of the Eastern Conference’s incompetence Saturday the Nuggets (-6.5) are in Philadelphia, L.A. Clippers at Cleveland (+6.5), Miami at Minnesota and Indiana at San Antonio (-3.5).