Did you notice the NBA prize some of the limelight away from the NFL this past weekend? Mike Brown’s exit in Los Angeles certainly caused more than a few pairs of eyes to glance away from football in the direction of the soap opera that was – emphasis on the was – the search for a new Lakers head coach.
Tuesday night there’ll be more eyes on the Association as it hits television screens across the country almost unimpeded – there is the small matter of a 24-hour NCAA basketball marathon – and sure enough, those headline-grabbing, attention-seeking Lakers are on the bill.
Here’s a look at some of Tuesday’s notable match-ups and how they may well pan out.
New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic
First up, New York (4-0, 1-0 road) puts its undefeated streak on the line with a trip to Orlando (2-4, 2-1 home).
Since starting the season a surprising 2-0, Orlando has shown its true colors with a four-game losing streak, including a home-and-away series with Brooklyn this past weekend. Magic fans need to get comfortable now; long losing streaks are going to be a trend this season.
New York meanwhile has performed better than expected. This isn’t a case of beating league doormats either; the Knicks have played solid teams. The Knicks look to move to 5-0 for the first time since 1993-94 and for only the third time in franchise history. Both teams that previously hit that mark went to the Finals, with the 1969-70 Knicks winning the title.
Odds: New York enters the game as favorites (-7) with the over/under at 188½.
Take: New York – It would be silly to think that this is an unstoppable Knicks team (it isn’t) but the Magic simply don’t match up well. Expect Carmelo Anthony to have another strong performance as New York covers the spread again. Take the total to go under.
Washington Wizards @ Charlotte Bobcats
Next up, Washington (0-5, 0-3 road) looks to win its race with Detroit, scoring a first victory of the season before the lowly Pistons. To do so, the Wizards will need to knock-off Charlotte (2-3, 2-1 home) on Tuesday night.
Despite a slew of injuries, the Wizards will be hoping to better last season’s 0-8 start, coincidentally the same record Detroit currently has.
Charlotte’s overtime win over Dallas on Saturday put the stopper on a three-game losing streak. Predicted to finish last in the league again this season, a second win on the bounce would do wonders for the team’s confidence.
Odds: Winless Washington starts as underdogs (+1½) with the over under at 189½.
Take: Charlotte – The Bobcats might not have been the most impressive team on the court this season, but they certainly have enough to take down the Wizards. Take the Cats to cover the spread, with the total going under in a low-scoring affair.
San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Lakers
After that, it’s time for the big one. San Antonio (6-1, 3-1 road) returns to the scene of its one loss this season, Staples Center, looking to pile some more pressure on the Los Angeles Lakers (3-4, 3-2 home).
Los Angeles will be without new head coach Mike D’Antoni, who is not expected to be on the sidelines until Friday – against Phoenix, fittingly enough – so Bernie Bickerstaff (2-0) will look to guide the Lakers to another victory.
The Spurs meanwhile will be looking for a third win on the bounce, and a third victory in four against the Lakers.
Odds: Los Angeles opened as favorites but San Antonio has nipped ahead to a 1½-point advantage. The over/under is 194½.
Take: San Antonio – Steve Blake joins Steve Nash on the trainer’s table meaning the Lakers are shallow at the point. That means Tony Parker will have the green light to run all over the Lakers. The Spurs’ deep bench will also be a decisive advantage over the Lakers’ very shallow bench. Take San Antonio to cover the spread, although a win all but assures that, with the total going under.
Tuesday’s Full Schedule (Favorites highlighted)
New York @ Orlando (7 PM ET)
Toronto @ Indiana (7 PM ET)
[email protected] Charlotte (7 PM ET)
Cleveland @ Brooklyn (7:30 PM ET)
Portland @ Sacramento (10:00 PM ET)
San Antonio @ LA Lakers (10:30 PM ET)