Pistons send holiday message c/o SA

Dec 27, 2005 5:20 AM

In the battle of NBA titans the Detroit Pistons sent a strong message to both San Antonio and the rest of the league that they deserve to be the team to beat come the playoffs.

Impressive in their 85-70 home win over the Spurs on Christmas Day, the Pistons displayed their strength and depth and showed why their 22-3 start is no fluke. Whether they will challenge Chicago’s all time record of 72-10 established a decade ago remains to be seen. Certainly they will have to stay injury free.

Considering there appear to be few strong challengers within the Eastern Conference, perhaps some local sports book will indeed offer such a proposition in coming weeks. If so, NO would be worth playing if you don’t have to lay too much vig since injuries can always be a negating factor. That and the rest of starters down the stretch make exceeding 72 wins difficult to envision.

Not surprisingly Detroit has the NBA’s best pointspread record at 16-9. Also showing decent profits are Memphis (15-9) and Milwaukee (15-10). At the other end of the scale is Washington, the league’s worst at 9-15-1. Also struggling at the betting window are Miami (11-17) and San Antonio (11-16-1).

Nine teams have had at least 60 percent of their games soar OVER the total thus far. The Knicks have seen 19-of-25 games exceed the posted total. The Sonics just behind at 18-6-1. Other consistent high score winners have been Golden State, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Washington and Chicago. Memphis, Minnesota and the LA Clippers are the three top UNDER teams.

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

Knicks at Bucks (Fri): New York coach Larry Brown could hardly have foreseen a 7-18 start. There already seems to be friction between Brown and several of his players. Milwaukee has been a big surprises at 15-9. Top draft choice Andrew Bogut has already had an impact and Michael Redd is an All Star caliber player. Bucks won earlier meeting by 20 in New York. BUCKS.

Spurs at Nuggets (Sat): Denver began the season with an 11 point loss in San Antonio. Both teams have battled nagging injuries with the Spurs clearly suffering from the absence of Manu Ginobili. The schedule favors the host as Denver is in the midst of a long home stand. Plus, they should be underdogs. NUGGETS.

T’wolves at Heat (Sun): Kevin Garnett vs. Shaquille O’Neal ushers in 2006. These teams each posted double-digit victories at home last season in splitting their two meetings. Heat coach Pat Riley will place more of an emphasis on defense, while Minnesota’s results have usually been below the posted total. UNDER.

Last week: 1-2

Season: 10-13-1