Boston starts out NBA’s lone unbeaten

November 13, 2007 8:08 AM
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LAST WK  SEASON PCT
2-1 2-1 66.7

Barely two weeks old, the biggest surprise is that there is only one unbeaten team left, the Boston Celtics.

There were concerns after the Celtics made off season moves that greatly strengthened their starting lineup. Veteran Paul Pierce was joined by Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, but the deals were thought to weaken the depth. Bench strength is vital over the course of an 82 game season, but early on it’s not been a problem in Boston’s 5-0 start.

Strong starts by Detroit, Houston and San Antonio, each of whom has lost only once, are not surprises. All three are expected to be contenders this season. Perhaps Houston is given less title consideration, but a healthy Tracy McGrady and a continually improving Yao Ming makes the Rockets a legitimate threat. New coach Rick Adelman was a proven winner at both Portland and Sacramento.

The struggles of Chicago and Golden State are also surprises, but of the negative variety. Golden State’s 0-5 start is surprising given their strong late season run last season leading to their ouster of top seeded Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.

Chicago’s problems are harder to explain aside from perhaps the distracting effect all of those "Kobe Bryant to the Bulls" trade rumors seemingly have had.

Just over 90 games have been played to date and home teams are just 48-44 straight up with a point spread record of 47-43-2. Home underdogs have been nicely profitable with their 19-12-2 mark. Road underdogs have been almost break even.

Totals results have been slightly skewed. The "under" holds a 49-41 edge against the "over" with two pushes.

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

Heat at Celtics (Fri): Dwyane Wade may have already returned prior to this contest and that will dramatically improve the Heat’s chances following their 1-5 start. Wade’s presence will take the pressure off Shaquille O’Neal and make the Miami offense more potent. Boston’s offense has been solid through five games, averaging 107 points per game behind the trio of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Miami will be comfortable with Boston’s preferred uptempo pace. OVER.

Suns at Rockets (Sat): Scheduling dynamics favor the visiting Suns. The Rockets played Friday night in San Antonio, while Phoenix last played at home against Chicago on Thursday. Phoenix won the first three meetings with Houston last season before the Rockets won the finale. Phoenix is led by the trio of Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and again healthy Amare Stoudemire. The Rockets figure to be small favorites in this contest, but should be a bit fatigued. SUNS.

Bulls at Lakers (Sun): Well, if a trade IS going to be made between these teams what better time and place. On balance Chicago is the more complete team but the Lakers have the best player on the court in Kobe Bryant. The Bulls may be playing with a greater sense of urgency. Good spot for an upset. BULLS.