A month old and the young NBA season has seen quite a number of teams off to extremely strong starts.
San Antonio sports the league’s best record, 14-2, but five other teams have lost just 4, winning at least 75 percent of their games to date. Joining the Spurs in the West with outstanding starts are Dallas, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers. Utah is also off to a fine start at 13-5.
In the East, two teams lead the conference with 12-4 records, Boston and Orlando. Third best in the conference is Atlanta with its modest 11-7 mark that is largely comprised of wins over weak teams and losses to playoff caliber opponents.
The team yet to be mentioned is arguably the most disappointing team in the early season. With more than 20 percent of the regular season already played, the 9-8 start by the Miami Heat is surprising. That’s Miami’s “straight up” record, not their ATS mark (which is 5-10, second worst only to Sacramento’s 4-10).
Bickering and feuding on the Heat has surfaced and there has been increasing speculation, if not outright pressure, for team President Pat Riley to succeed coach Erik Spoelstra on the bench in an attempt to “fulfill the Heat’s destiny” of winning an NBA Title with the trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh leading the way.
It’s still early and more than 60 games remain to be played but the Heat are showing early on that although the opposite is the more often heard cliché, the whole can also be less than the sum of the parts. That concept can be referred to as “negative intangibles.”
Some other early season pleasant surprises include the New York Knicks, whose 9-9 record is an improvement over the past few seasons. Cleveland’s 7-9 start should also be considered as a positive development after almost everybody forecast a complete fall into oblivion once LeBron James took his talents to South Beach. The Cavs likely will wind up with a losing record but they are on pace to exceed their projected season wins total of 30 games.
Here’s a look at a trio of games to be played this weekend.
Dallas at Utah (Fri): Both teams are off to strong early season starts and figure to easily make the playoffs come April. Dallas is reinventing itself under HC Rick Carlisle with a strong emphasis on defense. Under longtime coach Jerry Sloan, Utah has always placed a great emphasis on defense and physical play, dating back to the days of Stockton/Malone.
Both teams are more than capable on the offensive end of the court. Dallas is allowing less than 95 points per game on the road and Utah allows below 99 at home. UNDER.
Orlando at Milwaukee (Sat): Orlando is tied with Boston for the best record in the East at 12-4 but the Magic have been anything but magic at the betting windows with their 5-10-1. Much is expected of Milwaukee this season with many preseason prognosticators having the Bucks besting Chicago for the Central division title. Thus the 6-10 start is a disappointment, especially their 4-4 home mark.
Milwaukee does have several extra days of rest while Orlando played in Detroit Friday night. Orlando likely comes favored by a bucket or two which sets up nicely for the home underdog. MILWAUKEE.
Boston at N.J. (Sun): Boston again appears to be the decided class of the Atlantic division whereas New Jersey is clearly improved, having already equaled half of last season’s dozen wins in just 17 games this season. One of their losses was at Boston last week, 89-83, in which the Nets led after three quarters and covered as double digit underdogs.
New Jersey won’t be such large puppies at home in this rematch but is playing with the confidence of competing with the Celtics. The Nets have already defeated Atlanta and Portland on this court and although they may not get the outright win here, they should be in this game all the way. NEW JERSEY.
last week season PCT
0-2-1 4-6-1 40.0