No kidding: Dallas anxiously awaits Jason’s return

February 19, 2008 6:49 AM


The All-Star festivities in New Orleans this past weekend were entertaining, but with the midseason break now in the rear-view mirror the task at hand for most teams will be to secure a position for the playoffs starting in less than two months.

As we go to press it appears that Jason Kidd may finally be traded from New Jersey to Dallas. After personnel complications appeared to have doomed the trade last week, the trade seems to have been reworked. So Kidd is likely to rejoin the team with whom he broke into the NBA in the mid-1990’s.

A look at recent future book odds shows just how wide open this season’s NBA Title chase is. Boston, the favorite since the start of the season, is currently 5-2 at the Las Vegas Hilton. The only other East team at odds of less than 30-1 is Detroit. At 7-1, the Pistons do offer some value given their experience, stability and recent title from several seasons back.

Orlando, likely the third seed in the East, can be had at 30-1 along with Cleveland. Both Boston and Detroit are capable of winning it all but the Celtics’ 5-2 odds can not be easily justified.

There is no clear cut favorite in the West. Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio are each 6-1. The Lakers are right there at 7-1. Because the West is so strong and well balanced there really is little value in playing any of those four teams. Golden State and Houston are each 40-1. Utah and Denver are each 25-1. Up and coming New Orleans is priced at 20-1.

Utah is intriguing. The Jazz have the league’s best home record, 22-3, but are playing losing basketball on the road (12-16). At 25-1, there may be some maneuverability should the Jazz get by their opening round series, one which would feature a homecourt advantage if they can win the Northwest Division.

Boston has the best point spread record at 31-16-3. Next best is New Orleans (32-19), followed closely by the Lakers (32-19-1). Both are at 63 percent success. At 61 percent is Orlando (31-20-3).

It should also not come as a surprise that Miami has been the biggest money burner at 17-33-2 ATS. The Heat are cashing just 34 percent of their point spread decisions. New Jersey is the closest failure at 20-33 (38 percent).

None of the 30 NBA teams has been involved in games going over at least 60 percent of the time. San Antonio, Seattle, Portland and the LA Clippers have been involved in at least 60 percent under results.

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

Celtics at Suns (Friday): The first meeting this season. Boston began the week 16-0 against Western Conference teams. This game may well be priced with the expectation of being high scoring, making the reverse expectation attractive. UNDER.

Hornets at Spurs (Saturday): The teams are 1-1 in the series this year with the road team winning each game by double digits. Both teams have played solid defense all season and the first two meetings each went below the posted total. SPURS.

Pistons at Suns (Sunday): Detroit has been the hottest team in the league, running off 10 straight victories prior to the All-Star break. The Suns come off games against the Lakers and Boston. PISTONS.