Looking Up

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Normally you’d think that a 12-2 record would be the best in the NBA on a pace to win 70. That’s the hot start of the Los Angeles Lakers, but surprisingly two teams in the same division began better.

New Orleans and San Antonio were each 11-1 at the start of the week. The Spurs’ lone loss came at home to New Orleans in their second game of the season. The Hornets’ lone loss came last Monday at Dallas but was avenged at home just two days later.

Obviously all three won’t maintain anything close to that pace over the next 70 games, but both New Orleans and San Antonio have shown they intend to be among a host of contenders in the Western Conference intent on denying the Lakers a third straight title.

The team with the NBA’s worst record also resides in the West and plays in Los Angeles . Despite a nucleus of fine young talent and a new coach in Vinny Del Negro, the Clippers remain the Clippers at 1-13 start. That record makes last season’s New Jersey Nets’ 12-70 seem like a lofty goal.

In the East, all 15 teams have lost at least 3. The team expected to be the Beast of the East, the Miami Heat, is off to a rather modest 8-5 start, tied with Atlanta for second place in the Southeast division. The division leader, Orlando, leads the East at 9-3.

Boston has started 9-4 and already is the only team at .500 or better in the Atlantic division. A similar situation exists in the Central where Chicago , at 7-4, is the only non-losing team.

The overall mediocrity in the East extends to the bottom teams where Philadelphia ’s 3-10 record is the Conference’s worst. All other Eastern teams have won at least 4.

Road teams are a dominating 110-76-7 point spread mark (59 percent), which should drop several points over the next month. The unders hold a 102-90 edge against the overs with the league averaging exactly 200 total points per game.

Here’s a look at three games of interest over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Dallas at San Antonio (Fri): Dallas is off to a solid 8-4 start and split 10 meetings last season with San Antonio . The Spurs appear to be just as strong if not stronger this season with a very deep roster that matches up nicely against Dallas . The Spurs are likely to be modest favorites and catch the Mavs a night before Dallas hosts Miami , which could divert their focus. SAN ANTONIO .

Golden St at Minn (Sat): Both are starting to show signs of improvement, especially Golden State at 7-6 entering the week. What makes the game interesting is the up tempo style of play both employ. Although the Warriors have been a bit tamer under coach Keith Smart than under former coach Don Nelson, Golden State games still produce the highest total points in the league. Minnesota is right behind with the fifth highest. The number might be in the mid to upper 210s, but this team should still be able to entertain whatever fans are in attendance. OVER.

Phoenix at Denver (Sun): Denver has been involved in many competitive games already this season with nine of 13 through Sunday decided by 7 or fewer points. Phoenix ’s games have been more one-sided with 7 of 13 decided by double digits. Last season Phoenix won 3 of 4 meetings, all by double digits, including one in Denver . Though Denver is playing with revenge, the Suns should be generously priced underdogs. PHOENIX .

last week                     season                         PCT

   0-3                                4-4-1                           50.0


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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