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West shows NCAA look

Mar 25, 2008 6:00 PM

Bettin’ on B’ball by Andy Iskoe |

LAST WK
NBA
PCT
1-2
30-29
50.8

Less than one month remains before the NBA’s version of the Sweet 16 gets underway as the playoffs are on the horizon.

The fun continues in the West, where changes in the seeding order are almost guaranteed to occur on a nightly, much less a weekly, basis. Last week’s leader, Houston, lost three of four games after winning 22 in a row. The Rockets begin this week tied for the fifth seed with San Antonio. Yet the Rockets and Spurs are just one game behind Western co-leaders New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Patience may finally be paying off for the Phoenix Suns and their fans. They got off to a rough start following the trade for Shaquille O’Neal and received much criticism as the trade seemed to not work out well. Yet things have finally turned around. The Suns have won seven in a row to climb within a half-game of the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead.

Dallas may have been dealt a critical blow to a playoff berth with the injury Sunday to star Dirk Nowitzki. The reigning MVP is initially expected to miss up to two weeks. Dallas is currently seeded seventh, four games behind the co-leaders and just a half-game ahead of Golden State.

The power of the West is best illustrated by the Denver Nuggets and their 42-28 record sitting ninth and outside the playoffs.

Through Sunday, the home team has a slim 517-507 ATS edge over road clubs with 19 ending in pushes. The under holds a slim 514-513 edge. Boston continues to sport the NBA best straight up and point spread record (42-24-3 ATS).

Here’s a look at three of the more attractive games this weekend.

Hornets at Celtics (Fri): The only prior meeting was last Saturday in New Orleans when the host Hornets rallied for a 113-106 win. Boston is likely to be favored by a couple of baskets and wants to avenge that recent loss. CELTICS.

Cavs at Pistons: (Sat): The home team has won the two prior meetings. Detroit is playing its third game in four nights, while Cleveland is playing only its second in eight days. The Cavs should be able to force the pace. CAVALIERS.

Rockets at Spurs (Sun): The home team has won all three meetings, each decided by 8 or less. This should be a tightly played defensive contest. The posted total will be low, perhaps 175 to 180. The winner could struggle to hit 85. UNDER.