The big news over the weekend in the NBA was the Los Angeles Lakers axing coach Mike Brown on Friday following a 1-4 start. The speculation over the next 48 hours surrounded who would become the next coach with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought to be the favorite.
Several other names were mentioned, including ex-assistant Brian Shaw, now an assistant with Indiana, and a pair of former head coaches, Jerry Sloan and Mike D’Antoni.
Early Monday morning it was announced the Lakers hired D’Antoni. Having had success in Phoenix but not quite as much with the New York Knicks, D’Antoni is reunited with Steve Nash who, with Mike, had much to do with the rise of the Suns.
Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff did lead the Lakers to a pair of wins over the weekend as Golden State and Sacramento were the victims.
In making the sudden move Lakers ownership and management decided they could not afford to let the season go much further with a talented roster that was underperforming, albeit in just a small sample of games.
In discarding the “Princeton offense” for a more familiar run and gun style preferred by D’Antoni we will see higher totals posted on Lakers games. In their first seven games only one has produced more than 200 total points.
Two weeks into the season and only one team remains unbeaten. It is none other than the team from which D’Antoni resigned in the middle of last season, the Knicks. New York has played only four games to date, three of which have been at home. But two of the wins have been over Miami and Dallas, the past two NBA champions. The other two victories were on back-to-back nights in a home and home series against Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia.
Two teams have endured just a single loss this season. San Antonio has started 6-1 and Memphis 5-1. The Spurs’ lone loss came at the expense of the Los Angeles Clippers – that “other” Los Angeles team. And perhaps it has been the early success of the Clippers that hastened the aforementioned coaching change by the Lakers.
The Clippers also dealt Memphis its lone loss of the season and that came in the season opener for both teams.
At the bottom of the standings are a pair of Eastern Conference teams. Detroit has started the season 0-7 and Washington is 0-5. Only one other team has fewer than two wins, Toronto at 1-5.
The demands of an 82-game regular season are great and injuries will take a toll on most teams. Smart coaching and proper use of personnel and limiting minutes in one-sided games may well determine which teams make and miss the playoffs once we get beyond the elite teams.
Scheduling dynamics have a greater influence on NBA games than in any other sport.
Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend.
OKC at New Orleans (Fri): Oklahoma City remains the team to beat in the West and is off to a 5-2 start. New Orleans should be improved this season and the early returns on top draft choice Anthony Davis are extremely positive. The 3-2 Hornets have opened with 4 home games but their lone road contest was a solid 7 point win at Chicago.
This is only their second game in the past week while the Thunder are playing their fourth game since Sunday. The Hornets have been a good play getting points at home and they should be getting several baskets here. NEW ORLEANS.
Chicago at LAC (Sat): Despite the injury expected to sideline star Derrick Rose for most of the regular season, Chicago is off to a 4-2 start. Five of their 6 games have been at home, but their only point spread cover has been in the lone road game. They are 0-4-1 ATS at home.
The Clippers are 5-2 both SU and ATS and continue the improvement they started last season. They have a deep roster which has led to all 5 of their wins by margins of at least 9 points. They should be favored by a few baskets here and their depth makes them an attractive option. LA CLIPPERS.
Houston at LA Lakers (Sun): D’Antoni is expected to coach his first game for the Lakers on Friday night against his former team, Phoenix. He is expected to employ his trademark up-tempo pace which should be a positive when the Lakers are not in the second of back to back games. Such will be the case here.
Houston will have alternated game nights and off nights for more than a week when they enter this matchup and should be more than willing to run the court. Although there will a premium to pay in playing the total, a full adjustment is not likely to have yet been made until we see more confirmation of the change in tempo. OVER .
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]