Vegas upped franchise stock

Feb 20, 2007 6:32 AM

By virtually all measures this past NBA All Star Weekend in Las Vegas was a resounding success. The prospects for Las Vegas gaining an NBA franchise appear to have been enhanced based on the totality of the experience.

NBA Commissioner David Stern’s comments indicate he and the league have softened their stance on gambling. Stern’s comments last week that he would essentially leave it to the Board of Governors to decide the issue clears the path for at the worst a compromise.

Such compromise might involve the prohibition of games involving the Las Vegas team from being booked while permitting the rest of the board to remain intact. The response from the Sports Books might not be as enthusiastic as the league higher ups might like — and there are reasonable arguments to support an "all or nothing" approach.

For example, if the NBA is concerned about the potential image surrounding a team playing its games in a city where betting on games is legal, it seems that more doubts would be cast upon that image if such a team is excluded from wagering rather than being included.

In other words, a legitimate question from the outside world could well be "Why is the Las Vegas team being treated differently from all others?"

Internationally there are many instances of teams playing games in cities where wagering on those teams is perfectly legal. It’s been that way for decades. The number of wagering related scandals is extremely rare. Even then, the popularity of the sport involved (most often soccer) suffers absolutely no decline.

At least the NBA is starting to work towards a resolution of its concerns in a positive manner. The league is learning through the process that the Gaming & Control Board and other measures in place offer the greatest degree of comfort that line moves are monitored closely. In a sense, the NBA and the Sports Books would be partners in this effort. Both have strong vested interests in the continuing integrity of the games.

A more difficult hurdle to leap might be the issue of a new, modernized arena. The NBA is likely to take the stance that firm plans for a new arena must be in place or that the arena must already exist for the city to host an NBA team. Our elected officials seem confident this issue too shall be overcome. Thus the prospects for either an existing NBA franchise to relocate to Las Vegas or for a new franchise to be granted seem bright.

The regular season resumes Tuesday after a several day break for the All Star festivities. Consider the following:

”¡ Through more than 50 games only Toronto has covered at least 60 percent of its games. Ignoring pushes the Raptors are 33-19 ATS (63 percent).

”¡ Only one team (LA Clippers) is covering 40 percent or less. The Clips are 20-33 ATS (38 percent).

”¡ Results versus the over / under line are similar. Only Golden State (33-21) has played at least 60 percent OVER in games with posted totals. There are just two teams (Orlando, Toronto) at 40 percent UNDER. Each is 21-32.

”¡ Road teams overall have gone 398-372-18 ATS, covering 51.7 percent of all decisions. Long the preferred plays of professional bettors, home dogs are just 99-95-3. The OVER has a slight 390-387 this season. Here’s a look at three games this weekend.

Wizards at Bulls (Fri): The teams have split home wins and covers in their two prior meetings this season. Both wins were by double digits with each falling very close to the posted total. Both teams begin post All Star play with 29 wins, but the Bulls have played four more games than the Wizards, all losses. Neither team is rested as Washington hosted Sacramento on Thursday while Chicago was in Cleveland. Washington’s play has suffered since Antawn Jamison was injured at the end of January. After winning 7-of-8 prior to the injury, the Wizards are just 2-4 since.

Chicago has also stumbled of late, losing 5-of-6 before the break. The Bulls have just not been able to put things all together this season despite having upgraded their roster after last season. Still, the Bulls have been a solid 20-7 straight up at home and are a strong defensive team. Without Jamison, Washington has had to rely too much on All Star guard Gilbert Arenas. Chicago had held 11 straight foes under 100 points at home before Toronto snapped that streak just before the All Star break. CHICAGO.

Nuggets at Mavs (Sat): At 44-9, Dallas has now opened up a 4½ game lead over Phoenix for the top seed in the West. The Mavericks are getting it done at both ends of the court and that’s why they are short 3/1 favorites to win the NBA Title. Allen Iverson’s injury kept him out of last weekend’s All Star festivities, but he is expected to rejoin Denver teammate Carmelo Anthony following the break. The Nuggets have been basically a .500 team all season and currently sit seventh in the West.

Dallas won both meetings back in December by 15 at home and four in Denver. Each contest stayed well below the posted total, falling short by 17 and 30 points. In fact, seven of the last nine meetings have gone under the posted total. Denver should be fatigued after hosting Utah on Friday night. While that could result in sloppy defense, it also suggests many shots falling short. UNDER.

Cavs at Heat (Sunday): With Pat Riley back on the bench and Shaquille O’Neal again on the court, Miami is poised for a second half run to make the playoffs en route to defending its NBA Title. Cleveland has been among the top teams in the East, just two games behind Detroit for first in the East.

Miami tweaked its roster, adding veteran Eddie Jones to provide some additional offensive support for Dwyane Wade and mates. The teams met twice earlier this month with the home team winning each time, although Cleveland covered both games. Both games went below the total by double digits. With Shaq rounding back into shape, his presence on the hardfloor will be even more of a factor .

Miami is the better balanced team and has plenty of time to make up the necessary ground to improve its playoff position. MIAMI.