NBA's L.A., Boston appear on collision course

Dec 15, 2009 5:08 PM
Bettin’ on B’ball by Andy Iskoe |

It’s more of the same as another week of the 2009-10 NBA season has dropped off the calendar. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers appear on a collision course to the NBA Finals.

The Lakers had won 11 in a row prior to losing at Utah on Saturday night in what was only Los Angeles’ fifth road game of the season. Still at 18-4 they have the league’s second best record and are tops in the West, though only two games ahead of both Denver and Dallas a quarter of the way through the season.

The best record in the league is owned by Boston. At 19-4 the Celtics lead the Eastern Conference but also are up by only two games over Atlanta and Orlando.

But Boston enters the week with a 10-game winning streak and a burgeoning nine and a half game lead in the Atlantic Division where they are the only team above .500.

Boston’s start is even more impressive when you consider their outstanding 11-1 road record. Regardless of the competition it’s always difficult to win away from home. Although a number of the road wins are against many of the league’s weaker teams two of those wins have come in Cleveland and San Antonio. It is surprising, therefore, that the Celtics’ lone road loss to date was at Indiana.

Betting on Totals has become increasingly popular in all sports over the past decade and the NBA is no exception.

The lines maker does a pretty good job at balancing results over the duration of the season but over the first quarter of this NBA season we have several teams that have shown a strong bias to the UNDER.

Five teams have been involved in at least twice as many UNDERs than OVERs as Chicago (7-15), the L. A. Clippers (7-15), Minnesota (8-16), New Jersey (7-15) and Phoenix (8-16) have combined to play just 37 OVERs and 77 OVERs through this past Sunday.

Utah at Atlanta (Friday): A pair of Playoff caliber teams meet for the first time this season. The home team won both meetings last season. Atlanta is an up and coming team in the East, not quite yet ready to challenge Boston, Cleveland or Orlando but clearly closing the gap. Utah is more of a veteran team that has historically played much better at home than on the road. This is again true this season as the Jazz are just 3-6 away from home. Atlanta is 10-2 at home and will be a moderate favorite here. Both teams play again on Saturday with Utah having what should be a more winnable game on deck in Charlotte. ATLANTA.

Portland at Orlando (Saturday): Both teams are expected to contend for making their conference finals next spring. Portland has struggled a bit more in the early going than anticipated with a rather ordinary 14-11 start that includes a losing record on the road. Orlando had started the season strongly before losing their final two games of a road trip in Utah and Phoenix. The road team won and covered both meetings last season. Portland has lost big man Greg Oden for the season. Orlando is still without Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter is recovering from the flu. The Magic has been the more consistent team and catch Portland in the first game of a road trip with the Blazers in Miami on Sunday. ORLANDO.

Denver at Memphis (Sunday): Don’t look now but the Memphis Grizzlies are playing some of their best basketball in franchise history. At 10-13 they are hardly a threat to make the Playoffs in the highly competitive West but they are showing some signs of respectability, especially at home where they are 6-4. Denver is a contender in the West. These teams played in Denver in the season’s first week with the Nuggets winning in one of the highest scoring games this season, 133-123. Memphis should again be a decent sized underdog and they should continue to build upon their fine early season play in what could be an outright upset win. MEMPHIS.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Andy Iskoe