FanPost

East vs West, The Great Divide

*** Can somebody please edit this for paragraphs at each team and summary section, then delete this sentence, sorry my CPU has format errors, thank you*** Everyone who follows the NBA this season has noticed the drastic difference between the standings and playoff races between the two conferences. The easiest way to try to compare the conferences is to take a team from one conference and plug them into the standings in the other conference and see where they stack up. This is a nice comparison, but in reality it doesn't do justice to how bad the East has been this year and how tough the West has been. Why not? The reason is because the conferences don't play a balanced schedule. The playoff teams and those having success in the East are benefitting from tons of games (52 total) vs inferior competition and only 30 vs the more challenging West. While the opposite is obviously the case for the Wests teams. Think about it like the NCAA, is a team that goes 20-13 in the WAC as good as a team that goes 18-16 in the ACC, probably not, the schedules are not even. This is the same as many teams in the NBA, in this article we flip the schedules for 5 teams and see how they stack up this year. INDIANA PACERS The Pacers are a very good team and on track for the 1 or 2 seed in the East and considered a title contender. They do play the Heat tough and win a lot of games. But there is no doubt they beat up on the weaker conference. The Pacers are winning 78% of games vs the East vs a less impressive 61% facing the tougher West. With those percentages the Pacers are on pace to win 58 or 59 games this year. If they played in the West Indiana would be on pace to win just under 55 games. A 4 win difference with more games ve the West and less games vs the East. PACERS CONCLUSION With 55 wins Indiana would finish with the 5 seed in the West. They would travel to Houston in the first round of the playoffs without home court in even one playoff series (of course they currently would have home court in every East series). Is Indiana good? Of course, are they a title contender in the West? The numbers say maybe not. This season they would be in the same conversation with the Houstons, Golden States, and Portlands of the NBA. From one challenging series vs Miami with probably home court advantage in the East, to 3 very losable series all on road in the West, that's an enormous difference. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS The Pelicans have been unable to do anything vs the West this season. They have a very poor 30% win percentage vs Western opponents and sit in 12th place. However, the Pelicans have been plenty good enough to get things done vs the East, with a 62% win rate. The Pelicans are twice as good vs the East, that's almost unheard of. Think about this for a second, New Orleans has a better win percentage vs the opposite conference than the Indiana Pacers, Indiana is in 1st place, New Orleans 12th, that's an amazing contrast. PELICANS CONCLUSION New Orleans is on pace for 36 wins this season. Playing an East schedule they would be on pace for 42 wins and a league best 6 more wins under this scenario. The Pelicans would enter this seasons East playoffs as the 6 or 7 seed with a realistic shot to advance to the second round if they finished 6. In reality, the Pelicans have had a mostly forgettable season. Anthony Davis is a building block, but otherwise a 12th place finish and little improvement as a team can be traced directly to being in the West. WASHINGTON WIZARDS The Wizards are almost the exact scenario in the East that the Pelicans are in the West. Switch conferences and these teams would probably switch places, 6th in the East for 12th in the West. The Wiz beat the East at a 63% clip (same as N.O.) and they defeat the West 37% of the time. They have clearly feasted on inferior East teams in a historically down year and have been overmatched by the West. Washington would win 43 games in the East vs 39 if they played out West. WIZARDS CONCLUSION Washington will probably enter the playoffs as the 6 seed with a shot to advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs. The fact is that they will actually cruise into the playoffs, its not even close, currently 8 games ahead of the 9th team in the East. Flip them to the West and you get the most revealing stat of all, they would finish 10 games out of the playoffs in the West. From 8 games in, to 10 games out, an amazing 18 game swing. Washington should savor this playoff run while they can, as the numbers suggest it might be fools gold. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES The Wolves are in a similar spot as the Pelicans with a few more wins. Minnesota beats the East at a 62% rate, and the West at 44%. This 18 percent difference is on par with the Indiana Pacers, and what it does to the Wolves in the standings is even more drastic. From 41.5 wins in the West and 10th place finish, the Wolves facing an Eastern schedule would finish with 45 wins and place anywhere from 3-5 in the East. A very real opportunity to have home court in the first round. WOLVES CONCLUSION The failure of this season for Minnesota is potentially franchise changing. Rubio did not improve, Martin didn't make a big impact and Kevin Love had another all-star season that ends with him watching the playoffs on TV. On top of that Rick Adelman might be coaching his final games in the NBA. All these things are directly related to the Wolves sitting out West. This team is playing almost identical basketball to the Toronto Raptors, and think about how differently their seasons are looking, almost entirely because of their conferences. BOSTON CELTICS The Celtics are bad no matter how you look at it. So who cares right? The Celtics are worth mentioning only because they lose the most games with a conference and schedule flip. Boston is a pathetic 4-26 vs the West and historically bad 0-15 on the road. Despite that horribleness overall, Boston wins 45% of the games vs the East. Send Boston out West and their win total this year plummets from 26 to 20. CELTICS SUMMARY Boston might be the only team that would prefer to switch to the West and lose 6 extra games this year (obviously for more ping pong balls). Unless you believe Celtics GM Danny Ainge that a top 3 pick this year wont be a franchise changing talent. In the West the Celtics would be a bottom feeder of the NBA with the Sixers and Bucks, not anywhere close to the middle of the draft lottery with teams like Utah, Los Angeles and Sacramento. OVERALL SUMMARY The NBA will never go to a balanced schedule due to travel, road trips, back to backs, rivalries and other factors. But this year more than ever, the schedules have made teams in the East seem more successful and teams in the West seem less successful. Clearly the numbers and the evidence show that the standings don't tell the whole story. **Rudy Gay's ancestors clearly didn't invent the assist.

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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