Phoenix at Atlanta – Suns – 5 ½ points
Did you see Steve Nash last night? If there were any questions he was the right choice for league MVP last season they were answered in the Suns` win over the Miami Heat.
Whirling, ducking and cutting all over the court, the 6-foot-3 guard finished with 21 points, six rebounds and his 14 assists helped four other Suns finish in double figures.
But it was one play late in the fourth quarter with Miami trying desperately to close the lead that was the true cap on a sublime performance.
Going left off a high screen, the 5-foot-10 guard cut towards the hoop. Then with a 340-pound behemoth Shaquille O’Neal closing in, the 180-pound Nash launched a 10-foot floater just before the big man crashed into him.
Swish. And one. Game over as the Suns walked out with a 107-98 victory as 6 ½-point underdogs.
Now they go into Atlanta tonight as only 6–point faves. Guess Nash still has some doubters.
Orlando at New York – Magic +4 points
For some strange reason, Steve Francis’ return from suspension awoke something in Hedo Turkoglu.
In five games since Francis returned from a team imposed two-game ban, Turkoglu has averaged over 22 points per game, nine points more than his season average.
But it’s not just Turkoglu. The entire Magic team is playing better, winning and covering five straight games and scoring over 100 points in four of the five.
“I think the key to the win streak is people going through a lot of drama like we were and then just finally saying, `Let`s just push that all aside,” said forward Pat Garrity after the Magic’s 119-115 overtime win in Philadelphia last night. “Sometimes a little adversity brings people closer together and maybe that`s the case here.”
Miami at Charlotte – Miami –10 points
The Miami Heat have not played up to expectations after a huge offseason makeover on a team that came within one game of the NBA Championships a year ago.
Miami is just 25-18 on the season, 0-6 against the league’s top four teams (the Suns, Pistons, Spurs and Mavericks), and the Heat have not shown any more signs of contending under Pat Riley than they did under Stan Van Gundy.
So the Heat need to get things going. And what better place to start than a thumping of the weak Charlotte Bobcats tonight?
The Bobcats have lost nine straight games and have failed to cover such lofty spreads as 16 points against Detroit, 15 ½ versus the San Antonio Spurs and 10 ½ points against the Houston Rockets.
Bettors should check on the status of Miami’s Dwyane Wade. The Heat guard rolled his ankle twice in last night’s loss and although he told the Palm Beach Post he “should play tonight,” he may not be at full strength.
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers – under 207 points
Kobe Bryant, is rested after his 81-point tour de force Sunday, so in all likelihood the Los Angeles star will have another huge game.
The question is, who will respond for the Golden State Warriors?
By the sounds of things it won’t be guard Jason Richardson, who is questionable for tonight’s game with a back injury.
“I can`t imagine that he`d play,” coach Mike Montgomery told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It`s pretty sore.”
If Richardson can’t go, Mickael Pietrus will start in his place. It will be Pietrus’ first start of the season and he has already said he will not try to emulate Richardson.
“I`m not going to say I`m going to play like J-Rich. I`m really going to try to be myself,” said Pietrus.
That`s bad news for Warrirors fans but it could be good news for under bettors.
In their previous meeting, Richardson matched Bryant shot for shot, posting 37 points to Kobe’s 38 as the 209-point over cashed in the Lakers 110-104 win Jan. 14.
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