NBA Handicapping: Hot or Cold Report
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 10/26/2009
The NBA season tips off Tuesday night when the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers square off. Entering the 2009-10 NBA season, Doc's Sports will look at teams that can start off strong in terms of betting and ones that might be tough to cash a ticket on in the early going. This regular column will be posted every other week during the NBA season.
Since bringing the big three -- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen -- together, the Celtics have been one of the most dominant teams in the first two weeks of the season. Against the spread it has been a different story, however. While Boston started last year 9-2 SU they were only 4-7 ATS. Against their first nine opponents this season, Boston is 8-1 SU against them the last time they faced that opponent. Against the number, though, Boston is only 4-5. As the Celtics continue to get older they will continue to lose value; never was that more noticeable than last season after getting stretched to seven games by the much younger Bulls in the first round. This team will have some internal issues with Rajon Rondo trade rumors floating around. Also, Ray Allen, Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen are all battling injuries and this will only add to the Celtics' early season problems. This is also one of the most public teams in the NBA so you can normally get a bit of added extra value by going against them if you like the other side.
Changes have been made north of the border but the core of the team remains the same and that core has gotten off to notorious slow starts. Last season's slow start cost Sam Mitchell his job. With new additions to the starting lineup of Hedo Turkoglu and 20-year old rookie DeMar DeRozan, the new-look Raptors will need at least a weeklong feeling-out process before they can really get on the same page. Toronto's early season schedule does them no favors either. Against their first six opponents, Cleveland, Memphis, Orlando, Detroit, New Orleans and Dallas, the Raptors are 1-5 ATS in their previous meetings. Three of the Raptors first four games are at home where they were an atrocious 16-25 ATS last season.
The last time we saw these Bulls, they were giving the defending champion Celtics all they could handle and then some in a classic seven-game series that featured four overtime games. The young Bulls enter the season with plenty of confidence. Last season out of the gate the Bulls were 3-1 ATS. The NBA scheduling gurus wasted no time and they are giving the Bulls another shot at Boston, in the second game of the season, Friday night. They also play at Miami, at Cleveland and against Milwaukee, three teams the Bulls were able to repeatedly cover against last season. Caution should be taken though before backing the Bulls depending on the status of Derrick Rose. He is expected to play Thursday but remains questionable with an ankle injury.
Los Angeles Lakers
This one sounds obvious considering their tag as defending champions but there are more reasons than that to be backing Kobe Bryant and company. Not only did Los Angeles close out the season last year with a dominating five-game series win over the Magic but they also closed the season on a 6-1 ATS run. Their regular season actually got off to a near identical start when the Lakers began their eventual title campaign with a 5-1 ATS record out of the gates. A season-opening game against the Los Angeles Clippers, who struggle just as much ATS as they do SU, will help get things going for the Lakers title defense.
In terms of buying low, it's hard to believe you can get on the Kings at a lower cost than this. They are coming off a horrendous 17-65 season. Despite a mediocre 38-44 ATS season, amazingly the Kings were 22-19 ATS on the road. And the NBA gave the Kings a huge early season boost by sending them on the road for three consecutive games to start the season. The Kings covered their last meeting against two of these teams, New Orleans and San Antonio. With rookie point guard Tyreke Evans, the Kings offense will be given a jolt right away and there may be no team more worthy of investing in with some early-season plays.
The notoriously slow-starting Orlando Magic must also deal with the NBA runner-up hangover associated with their five-game series loss to the Lakers last season and with the departure of Hedo Turkoglu. The Magic closed the season on a 1-4 ATS run and opened the season 1-3 ATS last year, including a pair of straight-up losses to Atlanta and Memphis, two games where Orlando were heavy favorites. The Magic start with Philadelphia, New Jersey, Toronto and Detroit. Orlando is 1-3 ATS against those teams in their last meetings.
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