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One third of the NBA regular season is done and none of the three elite teams are nicknamed Lakers, Heat or Magic.

The league’s best record belongs to San Antonio.

The Spurs are 26-4 and just had a 10-game winning streak snapped last Thursday. Tied at 23-5 are the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks. Both also have just had double digit winning streaks snapped.

Dallas saw a 12-game winning streak stopped by Milwaukee, but then started another winning streak. The Mavericks have now won 16 of 17 starting this week.

Boston had a 14-game winning streak stopped this past Sunday. Ironically the team that snapped the Celtics’ streak was the same one that ended the Spurs’ streak two nights earlier – the Orlando Magic.

Orlando’s trade a week earlier has started to have an impact. Although the Magic are just 18-12, the moves solidify them in several positions. We can expect Orlando to be a contender when the playoffs arrive.

Miami started 9-8 start, but should be included as elite. Also, Dallas was a remarkable 10-1 on the road. That’s their straight up record! It also happens to be their ATS record.

As if Miami needed to do more to justify its status as an elite team, the Heat soundly defeated the Lakers in Los Angeles on Christmas Day, 96-80.

The Lakers are still an elite team as well despite just a 21-9 record. The two-time defending champs seem to be pacing themselves through the regular season in recognition of a roster that is aging and has been injury prone in recent seasons.

Though a high seed would be nice, being healthy and fresh for the two months of playoff basketball is more important. L.A. has played in three straight NBA Finals and a total of 67 playoff games during this stretch – more than four fifths of a full extra season.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Here’s a look at three games over the weekend that welcomes in 2011.

Friday, Dec. 31

N. Orleans (NL) at Boston: The Hornets solid 18-12 start has been overshadowed in the West. Both teams have played solid defense. The Celtics are allowing just 91 points per game both at home and on the road. The two meetings last season produced just 184 and 178 total points. This contest should be played with above average intensity. UNDER.

Saturday, Jan. 1

OK City (NL) at S. Antonio: After losing their first meeting last season, San Antonio has won four straight from the Thunder, including their first meeting this season in mid November, 117-104. The Spurs have an extra day of rest but did play at rival Dallas on Thursday. The Thunder hosted Atlanta Friday night. The Spurs should be only moderate favorites. They were actually plus a bucket when winning in Oklahoma City. SAN ANTONIO.

Indiana at New York (Sun): The Knicks have won 15 of 19 since mid November, including streaks of 5 and 8 in a row. Indiana is below .500 and in position to challenge for a low playoff seed in the weaker Eastern Conference. The Knicks are playing with confidence and have started to play better defense. The crowd at the Garden is an energizing force, and Knicks players have acknowledged that they do feed off of that support. NEW YORK.

last week                 season                 PCT

2-1                          11-11-1                 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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