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Highs marks for Orlando; Wizards, Knicks step back

Oct 30, 2001 7:49 AM

The NBA tips off tonight in what figures to be the most exciting season in the league’s storied history.

Michael Jordan comes out of retirement to try and lead the Washington Wizards into respectability. The Lakers try for a third straight NBA title. Grant Hill finally joins Tracy McGrady in Orlando. Even the Grizzles have something to be excited about in their new Memphis home.

And, we haven’t even touched on The Answer, Vinsanity, or the new Kidd on New Jersey’s block.

“I don’t think any team will win 60 games,” said John Avello, race and sports book director at Bally’s-Paris Las Vegas. “If anyone does it will be the Lakers. The West has great balance. Philly is banged up early in the East. Too many teams capable to beating each other up.”

Here’s a capsule glance at some of the recommended picks regarding projected win totals offered by Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

Sacramento (51½): Kings turn a new “Peja” in their history book. It’s Stoyokovic’s team even though Chris Webber decided to stay. Mike Bibby takes over the point for the erratic Jason Williams. A full season of zone buster Turkoglu puts the Kings near the top again. Over.

LA Lakers (59½): Las Vegas Sports Consultants had no NBA team winning 60 games. We think there will be, and the world champs are at the top of the list. This is Kobe’s year.  Over.

Dallas (52½): Mark Cuban will have plenty to yell about, and most of it good. The Mavs are load, with  perhaps the best bench with the NBA. Here’s the Midwest champ. Over.

Washington: (38½): Jordan has a better chance winning the scoring title than the Wizards making the playoffs. Under.

Philadelphia (50½):  The Sixers  will be tested  early with the injuries to Eric Snow and Aaron McKie. Allen Iverson is special and a full season of Deke Mutombo helps. We  like the improved frontline. Over.

Orlando (49½): The Magic figure to be the toughest obstacle in the Atlantic for Philly and possibly the best team in the East. It’s all up to Grant Hill and his knees. Over.

NY Knicks (46½): The Knicks took step back. Under.

New Jersey (36½):  The Nets in good hands with Jason Kidd. Over.

Boston (35½):  This could be the best bet in the league.  Over.

Toronto (49½):  Vince Carter could blossom amidst all the Jordan hype. Over.

Milwaukee (50½): The Bucks were great last year, but where’s the improvement?  Under.

Atlanta (35½):  Acquiring  Abdur-Rahim was brilliant. Great upside.  Over.