NBA Weekly Review
by Strike Point Sports - 12/28/2006
Both the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks got of too bad starts and sure would have liked a mulligan back in November. However, they sucked it up, accepted their poor play and jumped on the opportunity to turn things around. The Suns started the year 3-6 while Dallas was even more a surprise at 0-4. Since then they have been nearly perfect, combining to go 37-4 and now the two meet up Thursday on TNT. Dallas will host Phoenix, having already defeated the Suns in the first meeting in Phoenix. The Suns are one of the strong road teams this season, winning eight of their first 12 games away from home. Dallas opened at a small two-point favorite for tonight's game.
Respectability is one word that does not apply to one of the NBA's six divisions. The Atlantic Division has been atrocious in 2006 and beyond the Nets there is no reason to believe any of these teams can finish above .500. As of Thursday, the Raptors, yes the Raptors, sit in first place with a 13-16 mark. Only the Iversonless 76ers are really out of this race, stuck in last place at 7-21. New Jersey is without a doubt the most talented of these teams but even they have underachieved beyond reason. At 11-18 they are only two games back of first place but don't seem interested in putting together a strong run. Despite all the criticism and ragging on, the New York Knicks are sneaking closer to .500 at 13-18 and have shown some life after the brawl at the Garden.
The only thing more entertaining than watching these teams fight for mediocrity is waiting for one of these clubs to have a winning record. Seeing New Jersey seven under, I'll say it's not until the final week of January. Against the number Toronto has been strong, posting a 17-12 record ATS. Philly actually is second in the division at 14-14 while the rest still fall way below the bar.
Finally, Iverson is with a new team and we get to stop hearing about that in the news. Unfortunately, thanks to Carmelo's gutless hit and run, the Nuggets will not get to reap the benefits of having the league's top two scorers in the same uniform for another couple of weeks. Melo's suspension has him out and Iverson is forced just to keep the Nuggets alive until Anthony and J.R. Smith return. Denver has fared well so far, posting a 15-10 number both in the standings and against the spread. Another number to keep an eye out for is Denver's 16-9 mark with totals. Their new up-tempo play has caused some large numbers in the scoring column, of course having the second highest average in the league helps. Denver is scoring 108.6 points a game, only trailing Phoenix's 112. And sure Iverson and Carmelo will be highly entertaining to watch, however Denver lacks depth and a presence inside. They don't make it past the second round of the playoffs and would fall to The Mavs, Spurs or Suns when it counts in a seven-game series.