Derrick Rose and the Bulls will be at Golden State on Monday night.
The Los Angeles Lakers face the effects of the NBA’s lockout with three games in three days continuing Monday.
The lockout had many consequences for teams with just two preseason games and little practice time to gain continuity. Players are still trying to just get into game shape. The shortened 66-game regular season also has all clubs scheduled to play at least one ‘back-to-back-to-back,’ which hasn’t happened at all in the league since the 1999 work stoppage.
The Lakers must have angered the scheduling gods (or at least Commissioner David Stern) as their ‘trifecta challenge’ has come right off the bat. It began with an 88-87 home loss to the Bulls on Christmas and continues Monday night at Sacramento and then Tuesday at home vs. Utah.
The pointspread for the Sacramento game has been released and the Lakers are 3-point favorites. NBA-TV will broadcast at 10:00 p.m. (ET) from Power Balance Pavilion.
The Bulls game was a blown opportunity after leading 87-81 with under one minute remaining. Derrick Rose hit the game-winner with four seconds left. Those are games that Kobe Bryant and company didn’t lose in past years, especially at home, although they did ‘cover’ as 4½-point underdogs.
The Lakers weren’t a home ‘dog all last year, but are playing without suspended center Andrew Bynum for four games and Bryant is playing with a right wrist injury, although still scoring 28 points yesterday. There’s a serious lack of depth with Lamar Odom shipped to Dallas, with unheralded guys like Josh McRoberts, Devin Ebanks and Troy Murphy playing major minutes.
Sacramento has to feel good about tonight despite going just 11-30 at home last year (16-24-1 against the spread). There’s plenty of young talent with center DeMarcus Cousins and guards Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton, plus solid veterans in Chuck Hayes and John Salmons. Rookie Jimmer Fredette has looked good in preseason and will provide a spark off the bench.
Elsewhere on the 12-game Monday slate, upstart Memphis (+5½) is at the San Antonio Spurs after upsetting them in the playoffs last year. The Grizzlies could surprise and break into the top-4 in the West this year with Rudy Gay healthy. The Spurs are battling age and were 0-9-1 ATS against Memphis overall last year.
Dallas (-4) hosts Denver after getting blown out (105-94) at home by Miami on Christmas. The game was not as close as the score indicates and the defending champs have several new rotation players, plus a bunch of older players who will be tired playing in consecutive games.
Chicago (-6½) and Golden State will both be playing back-to-back games tonight. The Warriors are at least at home again after losing to the Clippers (105-86) yesterday. Stephen Curry shot just 2-of-12 in that contest (four points) and is battling an ankle injury, but is probable to play again.
Miami Heat Return Home On Tuesday Night
The Miami Heat avenged their NBA Finals debacle at least partially with the Dallas win. More importantly, LeBron James looked to be a man on a mission with 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. A motivated LeBron is a good value as the early Season MVP favorite (+250).
The Heat host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, who battled hard at the Knicks before losing 106-104 as 5-point ‘dogs. Rajon Rondo looked great in scoring 31 points, but Paul Pierce is doubtful after missing last game and Kevin Garnett could be suspended after an incident with Bill Walker. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Miami as double-digit home chalk.
TNT will broadcast that game followed by Utah visiting the assuredly tired Lakers. The Jazz will be well rested in their season debut and have an interesting trio of big men with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors, who will be happy not to see Bynum clogging the middle. The negative side is Utah is just 5-13 ATS in its last 18 games at the Lakers.
Clippers And Spurs Highlight Hump Day
The L.A. Clippers are the NBA’s new ‘must-see tv’ with Chris Paul teaming up with Blake Griffin. They scored 20 and 22 points respectively in the opener at Golden State and Chauncey Billups (21 points) will also provide punch at shooting guard most nights. The Clips will be at the Spurs on Wednesday night and could even be small road favorites, unthinkable before the Paul deal.
Oklahoma City will be at Memphis, playing its third game after beating Orlando (97-89) and at Minnesota on Monday. The Thunder still have three limited scorers in the starting lineup, relying heavily on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and were just 1-4 SU and ATS in Memphis last year, including their playoff series win.
The Knicks will be at Golden State after having a couple of days rest. They were very fortunate to beat banged-up Boston at home and guard play is a question after losing the assist battle 28-17. Defense is always a question with Mike D’Antoni as coach and Boston shot 51.3 percent even with newly acquired Tyson Chandler manning the middle. This could be a very high scoring game, so watch out for the total.