It’s too early to seriously discuss the playoffs from a seeding or matchup perspective. But it’s not too early to have identified teams that are in need of changes to overcome poor starts if they have designs on making the playoffs.
One such team is Portland. Despite being swept by Golden State in the conference finals last season the Trail Blazers were expected to again contend. Yet at 9-15 Portland sits 12th in the West. They’ve taken a chance by signing Carmelo Anthony last month. The long-time veteran won Conference Player of the Week for his first few efforts. But old habits are hard to break and his “shoot first” mentality is evident. Averaging 32 minutes per game, Anthony is shooting 41 percent from the field and averaging just 1.5 assists per game.
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Portland is 4-6 in his 10 games to date. But at least the Blazers have recognized they have early-season problems that need to be addressed.
Golden State has the second-worst record in the NBA at 5-20. The Warriors will use this season to develop depth for next season.
The sustained run of San Antonio may be ending. With their 9-14 start, the Spurs are in the midst of a transition that began several seasons ago as their core of stars either departed or retired.
There’s plenty of time to consider changes be they trades, personnel on court combinations, style modification or even a change in coaches. It will be worth following what changes teams make or don’t make as those decisions are often followed by a short term resurgence or decline that can be taken advantage of at the betting windows.
Lakers at Heat: To their credit, the Lakers have taken advantage of a favorable early-season schedule and are tied with Milwaukee for the NBA’s best record at 21-3. Miami has the fourth best mark (17-6) and was unbeaten at home (10-0) through Monday.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis have teamed together nicely for the Lakers, averaging a combined 53.6 points, 15.8 rebounds and 14.1 assists per game while each averages the same 34.4 minutes.
The Lakers and Heat are just two of eight teams allowing under 106 points per game. It’s no surprise that seven of the eight have winning records and the eighth is one game below .500. UNDER
Nets at Raptors: In the absence of Kyrie Irving, who’s been out since mid-November with a shoulder injury, the Nets have gone 9-3 both SU and ATS following a 4-7 start. Spencer Dinwiddie has been a leader for the Nets and has been their best player in the absence of Irving.
The Nets have played well on the road, going 6-6. NETS
Knicks at Nuggets: These teams met last week in New York with the Nuggets routing the Knicks 129-92. The loss followed a 44- point loss three nights earlier in Milwaukee and was followed less than 48 hours later by the firing of coach David Fizdale.
This will be a test of pride for the Knicks as they play a fourth road game in six days. Despite their 4-19 record the Knicks are 2-0 ATS in quick rematches against teams that defeated them by 20 or more points in the first meeting played less than 10 days following the routs. KNICKS
Last week: 2-1