The NBA season is just about done with its first full month of competition. How will teams handle the accumulation of game minutes and cross-country travel, which is beginning to mount throughout the league? This and other questions will be foremost in the minds of basketball analysts everywhere.
Brooklyn Nets @ Toronto Raptors
Tuesday, 7:05 PM ET
Odds: Raptors -4
The Nets are immersed in a downward spiral, and they don’t know when they might pull out of it. This is now the second straight season that the Nets have loaded up on various player acquisitions and have amassed one of the largest payrolls in the National Basketball Association, only to stumble out of the gate in the month of November. You might recall that last season, the Nets fired head coach Avery Johnson before the month of December was over, replacing him with interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. The Nets did not retain Carlesimo for this season, choosing to install Jason Kidd – a just-retired NBA player with the New York Knicks – as their head coach.
That move seems to have been as imprudent as it first sounded.
Kidd might have an expansive and quite natural understanding of the game, but he has had absolutely no coaching experience whatsoever. Even though Kidd was a point guard as a player, a person’s tactical understanding of basketball is not the sole measurement of his understanding of coaching. The craft of coaching demands an ability to handle players and their egos; to manage the minutes of each starter; to form the right player combinations on the court; and to teach the game well enough to create consistent performance from one night to the next. There’s no indication that Kidd is really ready to deliver any of these things to the Nets. Moreover, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are simply two very old players who are not as good as they once were. The Nets have tried to build what they thought was a championship team on an old and creaky foundation. They’re now paying a price, and as they head to Toronto, they really can’t be trusted to find quick solutions. The Raptors should be able to win this game and cover on the betting lines.
Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks
Tuesday, 7:35 PM ET
Odds: Hawks -8
It’s a Southeast Division duel between two teams that are trying to fill the vacuum which currently exists in the Eastern Conference. The New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Chicago Bulls were all supposed to be playoff teams this season. The Bulls are still likely to make the playoffs, but with the injury to Derrick Rose, they’re not a title contender. The Knicks and Nets are going to find it hard to make the playoffs, given the way they’re playing. Could Orlando and Atlanta climb higher in the Eastern Conference than they ever imagined? This is just one game, but it presents both clubs with an opportunity. Expect Atlanta – more seasoned and experienced – to be able to have answers for the young and talented Magic of Orlando and cover the point spread.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Washington Wizards
Tuesday, 7:05 PM ET
Odds: Wizards -5.5
It’s really rather simple: The Los Angeles Lakers still don’t have Kobe Bryant in their lineup, and they probably won’t have him on the floor for a number of additional weeks, at the very least. Washington was horrible the first two weeks of the season, but the Wizards – who improved over the course of last season – have been much better in the second half of November. They should be able to power past the Lakers on their home floor in Washington, D.C.