The NBA season has been underway for just two weeks and yet only one team remains unbeaten.
The Indiana Pacers have started 7-0, including three wins on the road. Also included in their unbeaten start are wins over fellow Eastern Conference contenders Chicago and Brooklyn.
Indiana, led by rising superstar Paul George, is a talented and deep team with a much improved bench compared to last season in which the Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, falling to Miami in seven games.
Utah is the lone winless team and the 0-7 record is not a surprise to the many observers who felt that by largely gutting its roster during the offseason the Jazz were playing not for this season but for next.
Denver has started just 1-4 and one can wonder if management is regretting its decision to fire longtime successful coach George Karl after last season’s disappointing exit from the Playoffs.
Memphis, another winning team that jettisoned its coach following the season, is off to a lackluster 3-3 start. The players were disappointed that Lionel Hollins was let go after the team’s most successful season.
The surprise of the first week, Philadelphia, has lost 3 of 4 following its 3-0 start but its 4-3 record is still the best in the Atlantic Division. More importantly, from a wagering standpoint, the 76ers are 5-2 ATS in the early going. And their strong start does suggest a team that will try hard despite having limited talent.
And that’s an important point to keep in mind. Often the weakest teams in the league will provide excellent point spread value, especially when they are in favorable scheduling spots. Actually, those situations are more apt to occur when their opponent is in a negative scheduling spot such as in the first of back to back games when the favored team might coast late in the game or when the favored team has a big game on deck.
There will be few favorable scheduling spots for the weaker teams arising from those teams themselves. Rather, those “favorable” spots will arise from there being “unfavorable” situations for the opponent.
Here’s a look at three games this weekend.
Dallas at Miami (Fri.): Dallas has started 4-3 with all three losses to teams projected to make the Playoffs. That does not auger well for an upset here as Miami is favored to win a third straight NBA Title. But the Mavericks have been very entertaining with all but one game producing at least 200 points with an average of 211 points. And none of those games have gone overtime as the Mavs are 5-2 to the OVER.
Miami is also 5-2 to the OVER with an average of 206 total points per game. Again, no overtime games are involved. Both teams are rested after having last playing on Tuesday so fresh legs should take the court and play at an up tempo pace. OVER.
Brooklyn at LA Clippers (Sat.): Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett lead a deep Nets team to face former coach Doc Rivers, now calling the shots for the Clippers. Both teams are expected to make the Playoffs with the Clippers being given a much better shot at playing for the NBA Title than are the Nets. Neither team has gotten off to a strong start but whereas the Clippers are 4-3 the Nets have started 2-4.
Brooklyn starts the week having dropped all three road games and the Nets were favored in each. Knowing the strengths, weaknesses and tendencies of his two former stars gives Doc Rivers a huge edge over Nets’ rookie coach Jason Kidd both in terms of strategy and personnel rotation. LA CLIPPERS.
Detroit at LA Lakers (Sun.): Neither team is projected to make the Playoffs with Detroit a young team in the building stages and the Lakers an aging team waiting for next season to begin a true transition. Kobe Bryant remains out for the Lakers with an uncertain timetable for his return. Steve Nash is showing his age, especially at the defensive end of the court which has never been a strength.
The Lakers do like to run the court and force the pace and do catch the Pistons in the final game of a four game west coast road trip, conditions that do favor the hosts. LA 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]