The NBA season is not quite to the halfway point but once the New Year begins the level of play increases for teams that have had disappointing starts to their season.
That includes the three time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Following the split with Phoenix in their home and home series over the weekend the champs are just 14-20, a gloomy 11 games behind Sacramento in the Pacific Division. The Lakers are currently seeded 10 in the West, four games out of the eighth and final playoff berth. Dallas leads the West.
Defending East champion New Jersey again has that conference’s best record and is starting to pull away in the Atlantic Division. The Nets lead second place Boston by five games and start the week riding a nine-game winning streak. They have the league’s best home record (18-1).
Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend.
Pistons at Hornets (Friday): Both teams begin the week trailing Indiana in the Central Division but are within striking distance of the Pacers. Detroit has played well defensively all season and begins this week with seven wins in the past 10 games. New Orleans has the opposite form, dropping 7 of 10. Point guard Baron Davis is banged up, having nursed injuries all season. Detroit is the only team in the East with a winning road record. With the current form of the Hornets, the uncertain status of Davis and Detroit’s emphasis on defense, the winner might be fortunate to hit 85 points. UNDER.
Warriors at Pacers (Saturday): Both teams played on the road Friday night. Both teams have split their previous 10 games entering this week. Golden State also began the week with a winning record against Eastern Conference teams, winning five of nine games. The Pacers are a balanced and deep team with a nice blend of experience and youth. Golden State is more of a young team with some solid potential. First-year coach Eric Musselman has brought enthusiasm and optimism to this franchise, which has missed the playoffs eight straight seasons. The Warriors have also gone five straight seasons without winning more than 21 games. They are currently on a pace to top 30 wins this season. The points are generous. GOLDEN STATE (+8).
Celtics at Spurs (Sunday): Both teams are playoff-bound and begin the week in second place in their respective divisions. San Antonio has an extra day of rest but is returning from a short three game West Coast road trip. This is the first game of a nicely spaced five-game homestand. Boston is in the middle of a trip through the Texas Triangle, with a game in Houston on Monday. The Celts are led by Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce, with both scoring points and shooting poorly. Tim Duncan is enjoying another MVP-type season for the Spurs. San Antonio’s defensive intensity dictates the pace of this game. UNDER.
Last Week: 2-1
Det/NO under (Fri)
Golden St +8 (Sat)
Bos/SA under (Sun)