This Week in the NBA
by Strike Point Sports - 11/17/2006
Several weeks into the season and the Utah Jazz don't appear to be dropping off. At 7-1 they hold the league's best record. However, this is not your typical Jerry Sloan team. Utah is second to Phoenix in scoring, dropping more than 105 per game. They are getting it done for backers as well, covering six of their first eight games and going over the posted total on five of those occasions.
The Jazz have seen the emergence of last year's first round draft pick Deron Williams into the limelight. The third overall pick out of Illinois is putting up terrific numbers, scoring almost 17 points and serving 8.5 assists each night. Williams is one of five players scoring in double figures while two others are averaging more than eight each game. Utah has already knocked off four of last year's playoff teams while its sole loss was on the road to New Jersey.
In Cleveland, the Cavs have jumped out to a very progressive 6-2 record and are first in the Eastern Conference. Could this be the year that King James leads his men to the NBA Finals? Early indications suggest it's a strong possibility. Current winners of four in a row, Cleveland has shown its dominance at home. The Cavs have already won several games at home by double digits while they have been favored on three separate occasions of at least eleven points.
LeBron James is putting up MVP-like numbers as everyone expected. So far James is scoring 29 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing six assists each game. The success of the team can be derived, however, from the supplemental scoring of his teammates. Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden and Donyell Marshall are all bringing at least ten points per game to the table and that has allowed James to be less aggressive and rely on others to get it done.
Cleveland stays on the East coast for the rest of the month. They host Minnesota on Friday and then have three of their next four the road, facing the likes of Washington, Toronto and Indiana. Despite their quick start, the Cavs are just 4-4 ATS to open the year.
New coach, new attitude? That seems to be the case with first-year leader Eric Musselman. Long known as a run-n-gun team when Chris Webber led the Kings, now Sacramento is a guard-oriented team, focusing on wing play, speed and aggressiveness. Point guard Mike Bibby and Ron Artest are always fixtures for All-Star recognition but it is shooting guard and third-year player Kevin Martin leading the team in scoring. Martin, out of Western Carolina, is scoring 24 per night with Bibby (19.6) and Artest (17.0) right behind him. And while this team is more than capable of running with the rest of the Western Conference, it is no longer a necessity to win. The Kings are allowing only 93.4 points a game thus far and it has worked. They currently sit tied for first in the Pacific division with the Clippers. Sac-town is 4-3 against the number and has kept the posted total much lower thanks to their new philosophy.
Weekend's Best Upcoming NBA Match-ups
Friday - 11/17
Utah Jazz at Seattle Sonics - NBA's best record against NBA's best against the spread.
Saturday - 11/18
Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angels Clippers - Clippers are league's best home team at 5-0. Philly has covered two of their first three road spreads.
Sunday - 11/19
San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings - Kings 4-0 at home, Spurs 4-0 on the road. First meeting since last year's playoff series.