With less than 25 games remaining in the NBA’s regular season, teams are starting to jockey for seeding and talking heads are beginning to opine on which team is the favourite to win the title.In the West, the Spurs (50-11) have ridden their 28-2 home record to the best record in the NBA and have nearly locked up the no. 1 seed. In the East, the Celtics (44-15) have the best record, followed closely by the Heat (43-17) and Bulls (41-18).
But while seeding in the playoffs is determined by the teams’ regular season records, that doesn’t always tell us who the best teams are.
One way we can analyse which teams have played the best basketball to date is to look at their Pythagorean Record. This looks at a team’s expected record based on how many points they have scored and how many points they have allowed. In short, the team with the best point differential (points scored – points allowed) would have the best Pythagorean Record.
Here is a look at the 16 teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended now and how their actual record compares to their expected record. Numbers in parentheses are the seeds teams would have in the playoffs…
To date, the Spurs and Mavericks have been this season’s luckiest teams, playing about five games above their expected record. At the other end, the Magic and Sixers have been the unluckiest of the playoff teams, with a record about four games worse than how well they have played.
But maybe the unluckiest team in the NBA is Houston Rockets. At 31-32, the Rockets are 3.5 games beind the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But they have actually played about two games better than that. At 33-30, their Pythagorean Record is better than four teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
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