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NBA Betting and Handicapping: Scouting The Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 1/9/2012

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Danllo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets

Welcome to the inaugural NBA week ahead preview for betting and NBA handicapping – I will try and deliver a few nuggets that will help bettors for the next seven days’ upcoming games. And as usual, check back later this week for my weekly preview of the game of the night on TNT’s Thursday doubleheader.

I’m guessing most bettors won’t be paying much attention to the NBA on Monday night with the BCS National Championship Game between LSU and Alabama taking the focus – although I can’t remember a national title game that has drawn less “buzz”. It’s kind of a been-there-done-that feeling with those two.

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But if you want to make some money, there is one game in the Association worth a look tonight: New Orleans at Denver at 9 p.m. EST. Unfortunately, it’s not on national television (Bobcats-Knicks is the lone national TV game on Monday, shown on NBA TV), but the Nuggets have been money this season. Literally.

Denver, despite the fact that half its team is stuck in China, is 8-1 ATS heading into this week. No other team has more than six ATS wins and the 76ers are the only other club with just one ATS loss. The one thing the Nuggets and Sixers have in common? Depth. It’s pretty clear that having a deep bench is going to be vital in this lockout-shortened schedule.

Be aware that Denver big man Nene may not play Monday night, however. He has missed three of the past four games with a foot injury and thus those 13 points that Denver is giving against New Orleans seems like too much.

Tuesday we get a national TV doubleheader on NBA TV and it will be great to watch Chicago’s Derrick Rose go up against Timberwolves rookie sensation Ricky Rubio. Both teams will be playing the second of a back-to-back so defense probably will be lacking. Chicago also could be without guards Richard Hamilton and C.J. Watson, which means heavy minutes for Rose.

I will make a call right now about Tuesday: The Washington Wizards will get their first win as they host Toronto. The Wiz have been probably the league’s biggest disappointment and were blown off the court by Rubio and the Timberwolves on Sunday to fall to 0-8. If Washington loses to a bad Toronto team on the second of a back-to-back, Flip Saunders could be the second NBA coach to get his pink slip this season, joining the Kings’ Paul Westphal on the unemployment line.

Probably the best NBA night of the week is Wednesday, with ESPN having a great doubleheader: Mavericks at Celtics and Heat at Clippers. Somehow in this compressed schedule, the Celtics will have had four nights off between games by the time they take the court Wednesday night, having last played Friday against Indiana. The Mavs visited the White House on Monday and play in Detroit on Tuesday night. Dallas also will be without point guard Jason Kidd, who is rehabbing a back injury that will cost him at least two games.

The Thursday TNT doubleheader isn’t great this week, with the Knicks visiting Memphis and the Magic visiting Golden State – I presume Dwight Howard will still be a member of the Magic despite reiterating on Monday his desire to be traded. It’s a lock he’s either a Net or a Laker by the mid-March trade deadline. He thinks there's a "100 percent" chance he's with the Magic through the Feb. 26 NBA All-Star Game. Andrew Bynum’s strong start for the Lakers would seem to make them the favorite as his value has only increased, and that’s who the Magic would demand as part of any Howard package.

Friday is another great night, with ESPN having Bulls at Celtics in their first meeting of the season and the Heat visiting those deep Nuggets. The games probably couldn’t be any more different as the Bulls and Celtics are two of the league’s top defensive teams, while the Heat and Nuggets rank Nos. 1 and 2 in scoring.

Saturday we get the first battle of Los Angeles as the Lakers “visit” the Clippers – of course, the Clips stomped the Lakers twice in the preseason and are now the more “buzzworthy” tenant of Staples Center. The schedule is soon to catch up with the Clippers as they have played a league-low six games thus far entering the week.

The week concludes with a national TV game on Sunday night after the NFL playoffs when Phoenix visits San Antonio on ESPN. Look for the Spurs to start to fade a bit with Manu Ginobili out at least a month.  

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