Playing the NBA Stock Market: Buy or Sell
by Josh Nagel - 02/09/2009
Impressive road wins Sunday by the San Antonio Spurs over the NBA defending-champion Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers over the Cleveland Cavaliers - who were previously unbeaten at home - showed that the Western Conference powers aren't ready to cede a complete shift in dominance to the Eastern Conference just yet.
In handing the Celtics their second straight home loss, the Spurs put on a vintage performance highlighted by crucial defensive stops and clutch shooting by their star players. Thus, they lead the way in this week's NBA Buy or Sell.
San Antonio Spurs - When the Spurs have their Big Three - Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker - all healthy for an extended stretch, they are indisputably still among the league's elite. They proved as much in Sunday's 105-99 win over the Boston Celtics, and ABC ran an interesting graphic that showed this club has won 75 percent of its games since 2003 when each of the Big Three plays. With much-needed help coming from free agent swingman Roger Mason Jr., it's no wonder the Spurs have won eight of 10 and gone 5-0-1 against the spread in their last six.
Portland Trailblazers - The upstart Blazers had won and covered in six of seven games before a recent slide in which they dropped two of their past three in failed to cash in three straight. But the register could be ringing again soon as Portland starts a home stand that includes games against Oklahoma City, Memphis, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Dallas Mavericks - The slow-starting Mavericks have showed some signs of coming to life of late, with wins in five of their past six outings and four cashes in that span. Dirk Nowitzki is finally starting to get some help, and the Mavericks' defense is notably improved at 15th in the league.
Orlando Magic - Although the Magic could conceivably recover from the injury to All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson much easier than it could were big man Dwight Howard to go down, a wait-and-see approach might be best for the time being. There might be an adjustment period both on the court and in mind-set for the Magic, who had started their dynamic surge in large part because of the emergence of their young point guard.
Denver Nuggets - The Nuggets have won four of five but only covered in two of those wins. They showed the signs of a fatigued team in an embarrassing 114-70 loss at New Jersey on Saturday, and the upcoming schedule doesn't get any easier as Denver fasces road games against improving Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers squads.
New Orleans Hornets - For reasons similar to the Orlando Magic, it might be prudent to back off the Hornets even though they have won and covered in their past two outings. The loss of MVP candidate Chris Paul was devastating to this team, which was just starting to get its footing after a shaky start when Paul went down. The Hornets looked awful in their first two games following his injury, and their wins have come against struggling clubs in Toronto and Minnesota.