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Three weeks into the 2010-11 NBA season, there remains just one unbeaten team, but it is not the two time defending champ Los Angeles Lakers.

Led by a healthy Chris Paul, the New Orleans Hornets have opened 8-0 heading into Monday night’s contest at Dallas — a game, by the way, in which the Hornets opened as a 4 point underdog.

The Lakers were the next to last team to lose their first game this season when they lost at Denver last Thursday. But they are not the lone team that has suffered just one loss as they fell at home to Phoenix on Sunday night for their first two game losing streak of the season.

The lone team that has lost just once in 9 is a team that has become accustomed to not receiving much in the way of credit, publicity or accolades for what they have accomplished over more than the past decade.

Overshadowed by the Lakers’ five NBA Titles over the past dozen seasons, the San Antonio Spurs have won four over that span. The coach over this period has been Greg Popovich, who arguably can be considered one of the most, if not the most, underrated coaches in NBA history.

Sure enough, overshadowed by division rival New Orleans, the Spurs have opened 8-1 this season with their lone loss coming at home to the Hornets in the second game of the season.

The Spurs have won seven straight since then including four on the road. Two of the wins have been at a pair of teams expected to be playoff contenders, Phoenix and Oklahoma City.

At odds of between 20-1 and 30-1, the Spurs might be worth a flyer to win this season’s title. They certainly have proven class and several of the key players from those NBA Title teams remain on the roster, most notably Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.

No team remains winless but only one has but a single win. The Los Angeles Clippers are still the Clippers.

But many observers would consider the biggest disappointment of the early season to be the Miami Heat and their rather lackluster 6-4 record that includes a pair of losses to conference rival Boston and a home loss to Utah in which they blew a double digit halftime lead.

Through this past Sunday, road teams continue to enjoy great point spread success, covering 85 of 138 games (61.6 percent) in addition to 4 pushes.

Totals results are more balanced with 68 OVERs, 73 UNDERs and a PUSH.

Here’s a look at three games to be played over the weekend.

OKC at Boston (Friday): This is a rematch of a game two weeks earlier that Boston won 93-82 at Oklahoma City in which the Celtics were slight underdogs. Both teams last played Wednesday. After struggling at home last season (a rather ordinary 24-17), Boston is 4-0 at home this season and 8-2 overall, the best record in the East.

Oklahoma City is burdened with the expectations that come from their rise to prominence last season and have started just 5-4 with a 2-7 ATS mark. Boston probably comes in favored by a couple of buckets. The best play may be on the total. Boston is 3-1 to the OVER at home this season while the Thunder is 8-1 o the OVER. Ironically the lone UNDER came in that first meeting with Boston and it stayed below by 21 points. OVER.

Dallas at Atlanta (Saturday): Scheduling is often key to handicapping the NBA and in understanding results. Atlanta had a very soft early season schedule and thus started 6-0. All of those wins came against teams that currently have losing records. Those wins were followed by four straight losses, none to a team with a losing record. That losing streak was snapped on Sunday with a home win over lowly Minnesota.

Dallas is a winning team with a 6-2 start but trailing both New Orleans and San Antonio in the Southwest division. Atlanta will have the benefit of several days’ rest while the Mavericks hosted Chicago on Friday. The Hawks are likely to come a slight favorite. Dallas starts the week a perfect 3-0 on the road but this is just their first back-to-back set of games and off a home and home against unbeaten New Orleans. ATLANTA.

GS at L.A. Lakers (Sunday): Golden State is off to the best start in years. New Coach Keith Smart has the Warriors playing, er, smart basketball in contrast to the undisciplined approach taken by ex mentor Don Nelson. Both teams are rested after last playing Friday night. The Warriors have played lower scoring games than expected based largely on perceptions that have carried over from last season (3 OVERs and 7 UNDERs).

The Lakers have been just the reverse, with a 7-3 OVER/UNDER split. L.A. is likely to be close to 10 point favorites in this game but the energetic Warriors are worth a play as they’ve covered 7 of 10 games this season, winning 6. They seek to avenge a 24 point loss on this court in the season’s first week. GOLDEN ST.

last week                 season                 PCT

2-0-1                         4-1-1                  80.0


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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