Maybe A.I. is an answer

Nov 7, 2006 7:38 AM

The NBA season is less than a week old, too early to draw much in the way of conclusions about how the season will unfold.

Still, Philadelphia’s 3-0 start must be considered a surprise with two of the wins against defending champion Miami and at an improved Orlando. Projected to win just 34 games over the 82 game schedule, the 3-0 start could provide some early opportunities to cash on the 76ers as public perception is often slow to change.

Having Allen Iverson in the lineup also helps the cause.

Boston’s 0-3 start has to be disappointing in the season dedicated to the memory of Red Auerbach. Two of the losses have been at home, including one to New Orleans. The Hornets are one of three unbeaten teams. Utah is the third off to a 3-0 start and both teams are expected to be improved this season.

The surprising Los Angeles Lakers began the season 3-0, winning the first two games without Kobe Bryant. Seattle ended the Lakers win streak at home, dropping LA to 3-1.

In addition to Boston, both Dallas and Denver are winless in their first two games. The Mavericks lost at home to San Antonio, surrendering a lead they maintained much of the game. Two nights later they were blown away at Houston 107-76, a team that was just 15-26 at home last season.

While a poor start over the first two weeks does not portend full season failure, just as a fast start is no guarantee of making the playoffs. Such starts can create short term value for bettors by adding points to the line for good teams that have started poorly and lowering the points in games for inherently weak teams that have started well.

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

Nuggets at Sixers (Fri): These teams played twice last season with the road team winning both times in games that were decided late. Denver is considered the best in a relatively weak Northwest Division, but dropped its first two games. Philly has started 3-0 despite being picked by many not to make the playoffs. Of course many of those predictions rest on the historical injury problems suffered by stars Allen Iverson and Chris Webber. Both are healthy as the season begins and the tandem is capable of 50 points between them. Denver also is capable of running the court with Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony. This game shapes as an up tempo game. OVER.

Pacers at Bulls (Sat): These Central Division rivals are both expected to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Chicago is forecast to have the better season and is expected to contend with Cleveland and Detroit for the division title. The teams split four meetings last season, each winning once at home and on the road. Both of Chicago’s wins resulted in ”˜overs’ whereas Indiana’s two wins came in ”˜under’ games. Chicago should be better defensively with the offseason acquisition of Ben Wallace. Two of the first three games this season have been ”˜unders’ and the Bulls figure to dictate the pace in this home game. UNDER.

Rockets at Heat (Sun): Houston is expected to be much improved this season following the drop off to 34 wins last season from 51 the previous year. Miami will be pressed to defend its title with all foes giving the Heat their best shot. Miami took both meetings last season, winning by 4 and 6. Houston should be competitive as long as both Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming remain healthy, but there is little depth on the roster. Miami is led by Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade and has a decent bench. Miami should be a solid favorite here, but look for Houston to give a good accounting of itself and possibly pull the upset. ROCKETS.