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Recent History vs. Season Totals

   by Bryan Leonard - 01/31/2008

Understand that oddsmakers base their numbers in large part on stats. The Golden State Warriors, for example, average 112 ppg at home with their uptempo style. On the road, though, they average just 106 ppg. So when making a side or total, the oddsmaker has to factor in the difference whether that team is home or away. The Warriors are 13-8 over the total at home, 12-10 under on the road.

But when we are this far along in the NBA season, for me it's more important to examine recent games rather than seasonal stats. Take the New Jersey Nets (please). The Nets had a stretch starting in late December when they went an impressive 8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS.

However, how have the Nets been playing since that run? Awful! 0-9 SU, 1-8 against the number! They were a favorite at Minnesota, but blew a 15-point fourth quarter lead in a loss. They also had a seven-point cushion with 79 seconds left, and let it slip away against a 7-35 team.

Players were shook up after the game, too. "This was a game we wanted," said Vince Carter. "We wanted to close out the trip on a high note.â€쳌 Jason Kidd's trade request became public knowledge that same day, too, so this is not a happy or confident team. "It's disheartening," Jason Kidd added. "We've had some tough games on this trip, where we were down by a lot of points and fought back to get it within single digits. This game is the total opposite. We were in control and in the end we let it get away."

So if you look at the overall wins and losses since December, the Nets appear to be a .500 team. But looking at it a different way finds something more revealing.

Getting back to the Warriors, the rumors are swirling about Chris Webber returning to the team. Why? They don’t have enough rebounders up front. Coach Don Nelson acknowledged his intentions of reuniting with Webber the same day that Biedrins pulled down 26 rebounds against the Knicks! Impressive, but it also reveals a weakness, as Nelson has only two options at center - Biedrins and the undersized Al Harrington. I make notes of things like that because the Warriors may have gotten a win, but what’s going happen when they face a strong rebounding team?

Injuries can also change how a team plays if it’s too a key player. Boston was a road favorite at Orlando, but then the Magic became the favorite when Kevin Garnett had to sit out with a strained rib. I recall a year ago the Milwaukee Bucks started off the season with a lot of young legs and an uptempo game under coach Terry Porter. But along the way their guard depth took several hits. Playmaker T.J. Ford missed several weeks with an injury, along with guard Mo Williams. It was evident that their offense also suffered, going on a string under the total.

On Sunday I had a play on the Kings/Sonics under the total, noting that, “The Kings enter here off a horrendous defensive performance in a 127-113 loss at Utah. Sacramento allowed the Jazz to post an offensive efficiency mark of 139.7 their worst showing of the season. The previous defensive low came November 27th at Phoenix and the Kings followed that up with a 171 point output at Portland, 33 points below the posted total.

“Sacramento has dropped the first two games of this three game road trip after losing 111-85 at the LA Clippers. Seattle has now lost 13 straight games and there are signs that star rookie Kevin Durant is hitting the proverbial wall. Considering that this team lacks many scoring options the Durant slump is really magnified. With home games against Cleveland and San Antonio to finish off the month the Sonics need a victory here big time. P.J. Carlesimo is smart enough to not want to run with the Kings. His best shot at victory is to slow the pace and play tight defense. The last meeting between these two resulted in a 104-98 Sacramento victory. We see a similar outcome here, play the under.â€쳌 It sailed under by double digits.

Again, recent history paints a better picture of where a team is than overall stats. If you're looking for a time frame to reference, 2 to 3 weeks is always safe. But that can be stretched out to months, as well. Segment your handicapping all season long, don't just look at the whole bundle of season stats.

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