The NBA season is a week old and it took nearly that long for one of the teams favored to win the NBA Title to gain its first victory.
The Los Angeles Lakers dropped their first 3 games before finally getting an impressive win over lowly Detroit. The 0-3 Pistons could be one of the worst teams in the league this season after posting a 25-41 mark last season.
It does take time for new players playing key roles to be fully assimilated into a new team and thus it would not surprise if the Lakers fashion a mediocre record until the end of the calendar year. With Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joining Kobe Bryant and mates the Lakers will be a force come playoff time.
An injury to Steve Nash in the opening game may have him sidelined for a few weeks, further delaying the kind of cohesion we are likely to see come springtime.
Injuries are always a concern for teams with aging rosters and the Lakers could fall victim to nagging injuries over the course of the season. In addition to Nash, Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest) are on the wrong side of 30 with each being at least 32 years old.
The age of 30 is akin to what 35 used to be a generation ago as more and more players are entering the league as teenagers as opposed to college graduates (or at least after their eligibility has expired).
At nearly 100 games per season the intense effort required to play at such a high level takes a great toll and players begin to peak in the late 20’s rather than in their early 30’s.
Age will also be a concern for teams such as Boston and San Antonio. It will come as no surprise if Boston coach Doc Rivers and Spurs coach Greg Popovich give their aging starters games off during the second half of the season. Popovich did that several times last season when the season was delayed due to the owners lockout. The schedule was grueling due to being compacted with 66 games played in a season that started two months late.
It thus becomes important to monitor the internet for news regarding coaches’ intentions on a game to game basis when planning on stepping to the betting windows.
While subscribing to a “live odds” service is perhaps the best way to stay on top of breaking news, the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as being continuously connected to the internet (at home, at work or via smartphones) can also provide timely access to such important information.
Although just a handful of games had been played through Sunday, all but 5 of the NBA’s 30 teams have already tasted defeat. San Antonio is the only team in the Western Conference to make it out of the first week unbeaten as the Spurs won all 3 of its games.
In the East both Milwaukee and the New York Knicks have started 2-0 while the former New Jersey Nets, now playing in Brooklyn, won their lone game played.
The Nets’ inaugural home game at Barclays Center scheduled for last Thursday against the Knicks was postponed until Nov. 26 due to the after effects of Superstorm Sandy or one of those teams would have already suffered a loss.
Orlando is also unbeaten after two games and that might come as a surprise considering they not longer have Dwight Howard on the roster. The prospects for the Magic are not good for this season so it remains to be seen if Orlando can overcome that loss. Some would argue that even though the loss of a great player has to cause a downtown in performance, the disappearance of the circus that was the situation last season may actually be a positive. We’ll see.
Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend.
Heat at Hawks (Fri): The defending NBA Champion Miami Heat will not go unbeaten this season after losing by double digits at the Knicks last Friday. But the Heat will win many games and are favored to have the top overall seed once the playoffs get underway. After winning the title Miami does not have to play with the burden of unfulfilled expectations.
Atlanta will be down this season, at least for the first couple of months. This is the start of a 6 game road trip for Miami but they don’t play again until Sunday. The combination of stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh plus a talented, deep bench should make for prolonged scoring droughts for the Hawks. HEAT.
Pistons at Rockets (Sat): The recent trade of James Harden to Houston has already paid off as Harden enjoyed a pair of outstanding games as the Rockets opened 2-0 before being upset at home by Portland. Detroit has lost its first 3 games to open the season. Both teams play tough road games on Friday night with the Pistons at Oklahoma City and Houston at Memphis.
Jeremy Lin has fit in nicely with the Rockets and the early signs are that the Rockets will be a serious contender to make the playoffs. That cannot be said of the Pistons. ROCKETS.
Kings at Lakers (Sun): The Kings have started 0-3 with all three games on the road. Two were competitive losses at Chicago and Indiana. The Lakers were 0-3 before routing Detroit on Sunday. The Lakers are the far better team but their offense has been inconsistent and defense has not been a strength.
Los Angeles will likely be solid favorites here but note that Sacramento covered all 3 meetings last season, winning straight up twice (both at home). This will be a bigger deal for the Kings than the Lakers. KINGS.
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]