There’s still much basketball to be played but if the first five weeks of the season are any indication it will be tough to dethrone the Los Angeles Lakers as NBA Champions come next spring.
Sunday night provided another sign of the Lakers’ strength as they knocked off rival Phoenix by 20 points, their second such win in two games this season against a Suns team that is a stellar 15-4 against the rest of the league.
Overshadowed by the Lakers’ early season dominance have been the strong 16-4 starts enjoyed by both Boston and Orlando. The Celtics and Magic are the main contenders to Cleveland for the top team in the Eastern Conference and the Cavs are also off to a fine 15-5 start.
The caliber of athlete in the NBA has never been greater and fortunately there has been a trend towards more entertaining and up tempo basketball in the past few seasons following a decade or so of continually lower scoring games.
Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend.
Orlando at Phoenix (Friday): One of the top teams in the east faces one of the best in the west. Orlando routed the Suns by 22 when the teams met in Florida in early November. The teams traded home wins last season and this spot does favor the hosts. Orlando is off of a game Thursday night in Utah while Phoenix has a tough trip to Denver on Saturday, making this the more winnable of the two games. PHOENIX.
Los Angeles Lakers at Utah (Saturday): The Lakers have started the season in spectacular fashion but it should be noted that they’ve played 15 of their first 19 games at home. Utah is off to a sluggish start overall but are 8-3 at home. Last season the Lakers knocked the Jazz out of the opening round of the Playoffs in five games. Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams give the Jazz a solid duo and the Jazz are likely to be in a quick revenge situation after playing at the Lakers in mid week. UTAH.
Houston at Toronto (Sunday): Toronto is off to a disappointing 9-13 start while Houston has to be pleased with their 11-9 start given the turnover in personnel from last season. Talented Chris Bosh leads Toronto in scoring over 24 points per game and has gotten decent support. Houston is more of an uptempo team this season and that should match up well against Toronto’s preferred pace. Houston has been an UNDER team on the road thus far which should keep this game’s total depressed. However in this instance both teams to run the court and for this to be a relatively high scoring game. OVER the Total.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Andy Iskoe