The NBA and commissioner Adam Silver are to be commended for being the most progressive of the major sports in terms of recognizing changing times.
The Association, in softening its stance against legalized gambling, is one such indication. Another more tangible sign of moving forward is their decision to seed Playoff teams on the basis of records, rather than award a Division winner a high seed automatically if its record is less than other non-Division winners that qualify for the Playoffs.
The popular prop around Las Vegas starts the week with Philadelphia in front of Golden State 2-to-1. That is, for the past month or so bettors have been able to wager on which will be greater at the end of the regular season – Golden State losses or Philadelphia wins. Both teams are well ahead of the pace needed to set the all time season record for most wins and most losses.
For many the NBA season unofficially began on Christmas Day when most of the sports world was idle, save for the final round of college basketball’s Diamondhead Classic in Hawaii. With a quintuple header of games the NBA was on center stage for more than a dozen hours with the featured game a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals. The game pretty much lived up to billing with the host Warriors winning 89-83 and, for those with a financial interest in the game, falling on or within a half point of the pointspread.
The Eastern Conference appears stronger this season with 10 of 15 teams above .500. And it’s not all related to just feasting on Philadelphia. Eastern Conference teams are three games over .500 versus teams from the West. While this meager winning record does not appear impressive consider that last season Eastern teams were 76 games below .500 in interconference play and were 118 games below breakeven a season earlier.
Here’s a look at three games to be played over the first weekend of the New Year.
Philadelphia 76ers at LA Lakers (Friday): At a combined 7-56 there will not be many revenge situations for either team this season. But this is exactly that for the Lakers who were the first of just two teams defeated by the 76ers this season, losing 103-91 in Philly on Dec. 1, which ended the Sixers’ 0-18 start to the season.
Philly lost their next 12 games, finally getting a win in Phoenix last Saturday that also snapped an amazing 0-11-1 ATS run. They are in the fifth of a six-game road trip that began before Christmas and ends on this court against the Clippers on Saturday. LA LAKERS.
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs (Saturday): This is a quick revenge game for Kawhi Leonard and San Antonio, which lost at Houston on Christmas Day, 88-84. At 26-6 the Spurs have the NBA’s second best record behind Golden State. The Spurs have an extra day of rest after hosting Phoenix Wednesday night. They catch the Rockets off a home game against the Warriors on New Year’s Eve.
Under coach Gregg Popovich the Spurs often pick their spots for placing emphasis on any specific game and given the situation and the recent loss to the Rockets this should be one such spot. SAN ANTONIO.
Miami Heat at Washington Wizards (Sunday): Miami is off to a solid 18-11 start, which gives the Heat the third best record in the East. Washington has started 14-14, which has them currently eleventh. This is a revenge spot for Miami for a 114-103 home loss to the Wizards in early December. Miami started the week having won, and covered, 6 of 8, including wins in all three games in this stretch.
Washington started the week on a four-game winning streak and has been without Bradley Beal, part of their outstanding backcourt with John Wall, for several weeks. Miami is healthy and that added depth will be a benefit late in the game. MIAMI.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]