Lakers gold standard

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Since losing opening night to the Clippers, the Lakers have won 11 of 12 to be tied with Boston with the NBA’s best record through Monday. At 9-4 ATS the Lakers have been the third most profitable team to back at the betting windows, up 4.6 net units.

Only Miami (9-2-1 ATS, plus 6.8 units) and Phoenix (9-3, plus 5.7) have been more profitable than the Lakers one month into the season.

Both the Lakers and the Heat were projected as middle tier playoff teams in their respective conferences but Phoenix was expected to finish near the bottom in the West.

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Fourth behind the Lakers is Washington. Despite a 3-8 SU record the Wizards have been a profitable 7-3-1 ATS, producing 3.7 net units.

San Antonio’s been the costliest team to date, already down a whopping 9.1 net units with its 3-11 ATS mark. The Spurs, projected to be one of the final Western teams to make the playoffs, have struggled to 5-9 SU start.

The second-most costly team has been Utah. Although the Jazz are off to a solid 8-5 SU start, they’ve under-performed expectations, going 4-9 ATS, costing backers 5.9 net units.

As the season progresses, I look to back losing teams that have winning ATS records (i.e. Washington) and to fade winning teams that have been under-performing ATS (i.e. Utah). Rather than considering full season records I concentrate a team’s last dozen to 15 games as a gauge of recent/current momentum.

Here are this week’s selections:

Celtics at Nuggets (Friday): Tied for the NBA’s best record, Boston’s started the season strongly. Now dealing with the indefinite absence of injury prone Gordon Hayward, major offseason acquisition Kemba Walker has fit in nicely.

This is the last of a five-game road trip and the Celts are off Wednesday’s game at the Clippers. Denver’s also off to a strong start but is off a tough Wednesday contest, hosting Houston. The Nuggets are 8-4 to the Under which includes a pair of overtime games that stayed Under. Boston’s first three games on this trip have stayed Under by at least 16 points. UNDER

Heat at 76ers (Saturday): Jimmy Butler returns to face the team he helped lead to Game Seven of last season’s Eastern Finals, falling to ultimate NBA champ Toronto. He’s gotten off to a fine start in Miami as the Heat are 9-3 with six wins by double digits, including a 29 point rout of Houston.

After starting 5-0 the Sixers have dropped five of eight with two of the three wins over lowly Cleveland. To be fair, six of the eight were road games but the team has yet to gel.

Nine of their 13 games have been decided by eight points or less. Miami played in Chicago Friday while Philly hosted San Antonio. Having played a tougher schedule, Miami makes for an attractive underdog. HEAT

Nets at Knicks (Sunday): Having expected to struggle this season, the Knicks’ 4-10 start is not surprising. However, Brooklyn’s 5-8 start is disappointing as the Nets are considered a lower seeded playoff team. Already dealing with an injury to offseason addition Kyrie Irving the Nets sport a pair of losses by more than 25 points. They’ve lost five of the seven games in which they’ve been favored.

Brooklyn struggled to win the first meeting 113-109. Julius Randle and rookie RJ Barrett have started to show their potential, giving Knicks fans reason for optimism going forward.

Being a local rivalry, this game becomes a test of maturity. KNICKS

Last week: 1-2

Season: 6-5-1

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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