by Mike Hayes - 10/19/2005
With the NBA season just weeks away over-under win totals ranging from a low of 20 in Atlanta and New Orleans to a high of 58 in San Antonio are available providing ample opportunity for a season's worth of action with one wager. The following will offer some 2005-2006 NBA Predictions.
With the exception of Canbet, the sites surveyed offer all totals with a half-game attached meaning there is no chance for a push. While most of the figures on Canbet do include a half-game as well, some do not, so be sure to shop around before making your play. At this time none of the sites reviewed are offering totals for the Phoenix Suns, who led all NBA teams with 62 victories a year ago.
Here's a look at some of the more intriguing teams in the NBA this season, their total and the recommended play.
We'll start in the Eastern Conference where the Miami Heat are listed at 57.5 at a number of sites, down slightly from their actual win total of 59 last season.
There is no doubt the Heat, with one of the best tandems in the league in Shaq and Dwayne Wade, will win the Southeast Conference, the question is whether they have what it takes to emerge as the top seed entering the playoffs.
With Shaq a year older and the questionable makeup of Jerome Williams and Antoine Walker the feeling here is they will cruise to the division title but most likely end up as a three-seed so the play is under 57.5.
The Indiana Pacers, if they can avoid injury and suspension, should be able to top last year's win total of 44. The books believe this as well as they have the Pacers at over-under 52.5 for the season so the question is how much can they improve.
With a healthy Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest for a full season the Pacers will exceed 52.5 wins and challenge for the top seed in the conference so the play here is the over 52.5.
The books are expecting significant improvement from the Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of 42 games last season, as well, as their total is 48.5 at a number of sites and 49.5 Pinnacle.
The Cavs sputtered down the stretch the past two years but with King James in his third season and an improving supporting cast the guess here is that Cleveland is ready to pose a legitimate challenge to the Pacers and Pistons for the Central title and a top seed in the playoffs so the play here is over 48 wins.
The New York Knicks are intriguing if only because of the addition of Larry Brown as coach.
Pinnacle lists the Knicks at 40.5 with others listing them a game better at 41.5.
Brown, and the recent addition of Eddie Curry will help, but the Knicks are still a bad basketball team and could eclipse their 33 wins of a year ago but a .500 record? Not likely with this bunch. Bet the under 41.5 offered at Pinnacle.
The addition of Brown in New York meant his departure from the Detroit and the hiring of Flip Saunders who inherits a team that came within a whisker of back-to-back titles.
The Detroit Pistons won 54 games last season and are listed by Pinnacle at 52.5 and other sites at 51.5.
The Pistons boast one of the best, if not the best starting fives in the league and could benefit by Saunders creative offense but will have to maintain their defensive identity if they are to challenge again for a title.
The guess here is the Pistons will remain one of the best teams in the conference but will take time to adapt to Saunders and fall short of last years total by more than a game so play the under 52.5 at Pinnacle.
Head to the West where reigning NBA champion San Antonio is listed at 57.5 down from last year's win total of 59.
The Spurs actually improved their roster with the addition of Michael Finley, the second leading scorer for Dallas last season so it would be no surprise to see them equal or surpass 59 wins so the play here is over 57.5.
The Mavericks finished last season one-game shy of the Spurs with 58 wins and are listed at between 51.5 and 52.5 this season.
It is unlikely the Mavs will be able to replace the long-range shooting prowess of Finley that helped Dirk Nowitzki to average better than 26 ppg so the play here is under 52.5 wins.
At last check just two sites, Canbet and Pinnacle, were offering a total on the once-again Phil Jackson-led Los Angeles Lakers, and both are offering 41.5 wins, up from the Lakers win total of 34 last season.
Jackson is going to find out that it was Shaq, not Kobe, that was the main reason behind his past success in Tinseltown and the Lakers will be hard pressed to improve by the eight games needed to cover an over here so play the under 41.5 if you can find it.
The Denver Nuggets, winners of 49 games a year ago, are listed at 50.5 at a number of sites and 49.5 at Pinnacle.
If the Nuggets can continue the success they showed down the stretch last season, finishing 22-4 in March and April after a mid-year coaching change that brought in George Karl, the Nuggets are a lock to eclipse 50 wins and emerge as a contender for a championship so take Denver at over 49.5.
The New Orleans Hornets, winners of just 18 games a year ago, find themselves displaced due to Hurricane Katrina and will play 35 home games in Oklahoma City and the rest in Baton Rouge, La.
I'm not certain it matters much where the Hornets play but as the Saints are finding out in the NFL such a transition is difficult at best so it is unlikely the Hornets will reach the 21 wins needed to go over the 20.5 total set by most books so take the under here.
The views expressed in this 2005-2006 NBA predictions article are not necessarily those of Doc's NBA picks subscription service.