There are two big stories in the NBA as we head into 2013.
The first involved the second coaching change of the season as the Brooklyn Nets fired coach Avery Johnson last Thursday, replacing him on an interim basis with former Portland, Golden State and Seattle coach P. J. Carlesimo.
The Nets have their eyes on the currently retired coach who is inevitably mentioned whenever any coaching vacancy opens up. That’s the former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Although it’s a longshot that Jackson takes the job it would be interesting to see Jackson and the Nets compete for headlines against the Knicks, the team Jackson was with in his playing days.
The second major headline as the calendar year winds down takes place in Los Angeles where the city’s “second team,” the Clippers, headed into last weekend riding a 16-game winning streak.
To be fair, the Clippers were favored in all 16 games of the streak, but only twice were they favored by less than five points. Of the 16 times, seven wins came on the road, nine at home.
But what makes the streak all the more impressive is despite being favored in all 16 games, the Clippers were 11-5 ATS with none of the five ATS losses coming in back-to-back games.
Admittedly most of the games have been against teams with losing records, but that’s been compensated for in the point spread. Of the wins, 11 have been by double digits, including each of the last six of the last seven.
The Clippers are a very talented and deep team, but will be worth playing against once the schedule gets tougher. Most teams are unable to sustain the kind of success the Clippers have enjoyed for the past month. The lines will get steeper and that will occur even as the Clippers step up in class and face the better teams in the league.
Don’t be surprised if in their next 20 games the Clippers post a losing ATS record.
Miami has passed New York for the best record in the East although both teams remain hot. New York has been without star Carmelo Anthony for the past few games but should be getting Amare Stoudemire into action for the first time this season right around New Years Day.
How those two stars mesh with one another will determine if the Knicks are indeed legitimate contenders. Chemistry is a very fragile commodity and thus far, without Stoudemire, the Knicks’ chemistry has been excellent.
Not surprisingly, the Clippers’ current streak has them atop the Western Conference but by just a half game ahead of Oklahoma City.
Through last Thursday the lines maker had done an excellent job in balancing the basic point spread categories. As of late last week (using the LVH closing lines) there has been exactly the same number of OVERS (207) as UNDERs (207) with nine pushes. Home teams were 204-209-10 ATS during that same span.
Interestingly, home favorites were outperforming home underdogs. Through late last week laying points with home teams has resulted in around a 10-game edge ATS whereas taking the points with home teams has resulted in being down close to 15.
Here’s a look at three games that will be played over the first weekend of the New Year.
Brooklyn at Washington (Fri.): The Nets will have had Carlesimo behind the bench for about a week as they travel to the nation’s capital to face the team with the NBA’s worst record. The Wizards were 3-23 heading into last weekend, with three fewer wins than any other team. Often when a team changes coaches during the season there is a short term boost in its performance.
The Nets remain a talented team that started the season 11-4 before taking off the month of December. The Nets should be focused after having stepped up in class on Wednesday at Oklahoma City. Brooklyn will be favored but they should be in position to win by double digits. BROOKLYN.
Utah at Denver (Sat.): The Nuggets have played a very imbalanced schedule thus far with 22 of their first 32 games on the road. Prior to facing the Clippers on Tuesday, Denver had won nine of its 10 home games with six of those wins by double digits.
Utah has historically had one of the largest home/road contrasts and that remains the case this season with Utah 9-3 at home but just 6-12 on the road through last week. DENVER.
Denver at LA Lakers (Sun.): After an afternoon of NFL playoff football, sports fans and bettors will be treated to this very attractive matchup. The Lakers seem to have turned things around with their recent win streak in late December. A month earlier, in the midst of their poor play, the Lakers defeated the Nuggets 122-103 on this court.
With Steve Nash back in the Lakers lineup we should begin to see a much more fluid and effective offense. Denver is right back out on the road after playing three straight home games, its longest home stand this season to date, including Saturday night’s hosting of Utah. LAKERS.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]