Hawks upset over Cavs wasn’t quite Trump level but no unbeatens remain in NBA

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No team remains unbeaten through the season’s first three weeks as Cleveland finally lost last Tuesday to Atlanta. Favored by 7.5 points their loss was not the biggest upset on Nov. 8. Donald Trump pulled a bigger upset that night in defeating Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

Unfortunately bettors could not take advantage of wagering on the election even though such wagering is offered outside the U.S. Estimates are wagering on the outcome of political elections would dwarf the volume wagered on the biggest sporting events such as the Super Bowl or March Madness. Perhaps within the next five years or so we will see legalized wagering across the United States and then it might be only a matter of time before wagering on elections follows.

At 8-1 the Cavs have the NBA’s second best record and are one of four teams yet to lose on the road. Cleveland is 3-0 on the road as is Toronto. Both the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio are 5-0. The Spurs are a surprising 2-3 at home after not losing at home last time until the second to last game of the regular season when Golden State spoiled San Antonio’s 39-0 home record.

Only one team remains unbeaten at home, Detroit. The Pistons are 4-0 at home but just 1-5 on the road. Playing exceptionally well at home is the first step toward contending to make the Playoffs. Playing well on the road is the step toward becoming a contender for Playoff success.

No teams remain winless as New Orleans broke its maiden last Thursday and the 76ers followed suit the next night.

New Orleans’ lone win came on the road in Milwaukee and the Pelicans enter this week 1-9 overall including 0-5 at home. The only other team winless at home is Denver. The Nuggets have dropped all 3 home contests but have gone 3-4 on the road.

Philadelphia’s lone win came at home against Indiana two nights after the Pacers defeated the 76ers in Indiana. Interestingly both games were decided in overtime.

In addition to Philadelphia (0-3) three other teams have yet to win on the road. Memphis is 0-3 away from home. Washington is 0-4 and Indiana is 0-5.

The story of the early season to date has been the play of the L A Clippers.

For decades the Clippers were among the worst teams in the NBA but in recent seasons the franchise has turned things around. The turnaround began in the final few seasons in which the franchise was owned by Donald Sterling and has continued since Sterling was effectively forced to sell the franchise to Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO.

At 9-1 the Clippers have the best record in the NBA and are 4-1 at home and 5-0 on the road. Their odds to win the NBA Title have dropped accordingly. At the Westgate the Clippers opened at 16-1 odds last June. Those odds were increased once Kevin Durant signed with Golden State in July. Prior to the start of the season the Clippers had been revised to 20-1. But following a 24 point road win at San Antonio and home wins by 32 over Detroit and by 31 over Portland those odds were cut in half. In the middle of last week the Clippers were down to 10-1 to win the NBA Title.

The Clippers have the talent to reach the Western Conference Finals but Golden State is still the favorite and the Clippers have been fortunate in avoiding injuries thus far. Let’s see how the Clippers are faring at the end of December. At the start of 2017 those 10-1 odds may have some appeal. Of course, they may have also dropped by then as well.

Here’s a look at three attractive matchups for the coming weekend.

Golden State at Boston (Friday): Boston has had to deal with injuries which contribute to their 5-4 start but the Celtics are considered to be second best in the East, along with Toronto, behind Cleveland. Golden State is in the midst of a four game road trip that had them in Toronto on Wednesday and they will be in Milwaukee on Saturday. Every team looks to play its best against the powerful Warriors and the Celtics did deal Golden State a rare defeat late last season on the road as the Warriors were on the way to their record setting regular season. The Warriors have more talent this season and match up well against Boston. The line should be reasonable enough to back the visitors with Boston’s previous 6 opponents prior to Golden State each having losing records. GOLDEN STATE.

Utah at Houston (Saturday): Both teams have gotten off to decent starts and each team has already split a pair of games with San Antonio. Houston enters this week having been Pick ‘em or underdogs in 6 straight games yet won 3 of the 6, all on the road. Their only home game in this stretch was last Saturday’s home loss to the Spurs which avenged Houston’s road win 3 nights earlier. Utah has also played well on the road, winning 4 of 5 on their trip that ended last Saturday. But all 4 wins were over teams with losing records. Houston presents a more formidable challenge and an early deficit could result in Utah resting players for Sunday’s game in Denver. HOUSTON.

Chicago at L A Lakers (Sunday): The Lakers have been an early season surprise as new coach Luke Walton has the players believing in themselves and playing spirited basketball. At 6-5 the Lakers are playing better than expected and entered this week having gone 5-2 following a 1-3 start. Chicago started the season 3-0 but after dropping 3 straight have won 3 of 4 through last Sunday. This is a tough spot for the Bulls who are playing the fourth of a six game road trip but did play on this court Saturday night against the Clippers. The Lakers have not played back to back games in a week. They hosted San Antonio on Friday and will host Oklahoma City on Tuesday which makes this the most winnable game of the three. LA LAKERS.

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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