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L.A. Lakers no longer with perfect record

Nov 18, 2008 5:09 PM

Bettin’ on B’ball by Andy Iskoe |

The NBA season is three weeks old with no longer any unbeaten or winless teams.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost their first game this past weekend while Washington won its first contest last Wednesday. The Lakers are the only one loss team in the league, while the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota and Oklahoma City are still seeking their second wins.

Boston, Cleveland and Orlando have taken early leads in divisional races as expected. Detroit is also playing well following the trade that brought Allen Iverson to the Pistons. Atlanta has lost three in a row after starting 6-0 but remain one of the positive early season developments.

Things are also upbeat in New York as the Knicks have started 6-4, but they’ve recently started to give up huge mid-game leads.

In the West the LA Lakers and Phoenix are off to hot starts while a couple of teams expected to contend are off to sluggish starts. At 3-7 Dallas has not played well and is a surprising 0-4 at home. San Antonio is just 4-5, but has a legitimate excuse with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker sidelined.

Based on early season play the gap between the conferences appears to have narrowed greatly. The Lakers may be the best team in the NBA, but the next three or four top clubs may be in the East. It’s still early to draw even tentative conclusions, but the potential shift in power from the West to the East is worth noting and following.

Road teams continue to enjoy a solid edge in point spread results in the early going as road teams have covered 79 of 144 games through Sunday. The under continues to enjoy a slight 76-69 edge versus over.

Atlanta has a solid 6-2-1 ATS mark thus far with Milwaukee a strong 8-3 ATS record despite being just 5-6 straight up. At the other end of the point spread spectrum are the LA Clippers at 1-8 ATS.

Here’s some weekend picks:

Jazz at Spurs (Fri): These teams split their four meetings last season with the home team winning (and covering) each time. Both have been hurt by injuries. The Jazz have lost three straight on the road after starting 6-1. The Spurs have struggled on offense while still playing solid defense. The last five Spurs games have gone under with none above 182. UNDER.

Rockets at Magic (Sat): Orlando is 7-1 in its last eight games following an 0-2 start. Houston is just 3-3 on the road and should be a slight underdog in this game after both teams played on the road Friday night. Houston has played a more difficult schedule over the past week or so and will be undervalued as a result. ROCKETS.

Celtics at Raptors (Sun): Boston has won 8 of its first 10 and is getting solid contributions from the entire roster. The Celtics already defeated Toronto 94-87 in Boston, barely failing to cover as 8½-point favorites. They figure to be favored by a basket or two in Toronto, where the Raptors are just 2-2. In winning 3 of 4 against Toronto last season, the Celtics won both the games in Toronto and also have the edge in premier players. CELTICS.