Boston, Detroit, Orlando control NBA East

December 24, 2007 6:05 AM
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LAST WK  SEASON PCT
2-1 7-11 38.9

Nearly two months in and the NBA season is starting to take shape.

We are beginning to get a good look at which teams are title contenders, which are good enough to make the playoffs and which can already set their sights on building for the future.

Boston remains the hottest team in the league with its 21-3 start, while Detroit is second best in the Eastern Conference. Orlando is third best. Behind that trio is a significant gap to the rest of the conference. No other Eastern team is more than two games over .500. One of those is the surprising Atlanta Hawks.

Long the doormats of the East, the Hawks are playing solid basketball and should continue to make for a profitable point spread play until the public perception of this long woebegone franchise changes.

The worst team in the East remains the New York Knicks. One wonders just how much longer management will continue to support coach Isiah Thomas, who seems to have totally lost the respect and control of his team.

Were it not for revamped Minnesota, the Knicks would have the worst record in the league. Yet their eight wins are double the number the Timberwolves have accumulated. It’s a wonder they draw any fans in Minneapolis after how management has poorly handled that once contending franchise.

San Antonio, Phoenix and Dallas continue to set the pace in the West with Denver, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers all off to solid starts. As compared to the three Eastern teams that are playing even .550 basketball, no fewer than eight teams in the West are winning at better than that rate. Currently seeded eighth in the West, Golden State, at 15-12, would have the fourth best record in the East.

Looks like more of the same imbalance between East and West after the East had shown some signs last season of narrowing that wide gap.

Before looking at some upcoming games, here are some wishes for a great Holiday season and for much health and happiness in the New Year.

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

Raptors at Spurs (Fri): San Antonio has regained the services of stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and has resumed its fine play as the Spurs try to repeat last season’s title. Toronto is one of the better teams in the East, but lacks depth on the roster to be a legitimate contender. Toronto’s best chance to win will be to slow things down and make this more of a half court game. UNDER.

Celtics at Jazz (Sat): Boston has feasted mostly on East teams and a schedule that’s featured more home games than road tilts. Utah’s poor recent play has been largely due to a heavy dose of road games.Utah is 9-2 as hosts. Boston is 4-0 against the West but all four games were at home. This is really their first true test of the season. UTAH.

Warriors at Nuggets (Sun): Both teams are solid playoff caliber teams. Each has plenty of offense but not known for defense. Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson are the stars for the Nuggets, who figure to be favored by a couple of buckets. Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson key the Warriors attack. This handicaps as an the up tempo game preferred by both teams. OVER.