NBA Showtime: Under cashing in during the first week

NBA Showtime: Under cashing in during the first week

NBA Showtime: Under cashing in during the first week
By VIC TAFUR

The season started off with a clang, or 15 of them from Memphis rookie O.J. Mayo in his debut, and the rim has been getting abused by basketballs in the week since. The under in the NBA is 63-34 through Tuesday, and while some teams have copied the Celtics and gotten serious on the defensive end most of them just can’t shoot.

The Grizzlies, inspired by Mr. Mayo’s 15-for-20 performance from the field in the opener, have gone under the number in all four of their games. They are just one of seven teams perfect in keeping the scores low. Here is a quick look at the other six:

New Jersey Nets (3-0 under): Devin Harris must have been reading all the clips about how the Nets ripped off the Mavericks in last year’s Jason Kidd trade because now the point guard is shooting like Kidd. He is 10-for 33 and 6-foot-11 Yi Jianlian is 12-for-29. Yikes, Yi.

Oklahoma City Thunder (3-0): The Thunder are shooting 41.9 percent, and that’s with backup forward Joe Smith going 10-for-14. Jeff Green looks like a bust and Kevin Durant has poor shot selection, but who can blame him? With his teammates, wouldn’t you take off-balance jumpers with a hand in your face too?

Minnesota Timberwolves (3-0): Another team with a point guard that is killing its spirit. Randy Foye is 8-for-36 from the field and has an assists-to-turnover ratio of 1.5 (1.5 assists for every turnover). Just for comparison sake, Toronto’s Jose Calderon is 17-for-34 with a ratio of 3.5. Timberwolves rookie Kevin Love looks too slow and lacks explosive to hold his own inside.

Los Angeles Lakers (3-0): We told you about the Lakers in our season previews. Their bench is sick, and Los Angeles is just embarrassing teams, outscoring them by 21 points and covering all three of their games against the spread. This trend will not stop. If you jumped on our advice then or you do it now, you will come to love Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar.

Utah Jazz (2-0) and Atlanta Hawks (2-0): Two teams that are just playing good solid, fundamental defense. The Hawks must have taken notes after that first-round loss to Boston in the playoffs. Teams are scoring 86.5 points a game against the Jazz and Hawks, and it’s no wonder both teams are 2-0 against the spread as well.

Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Orlando are all 3-1 under.

The big trade: The Allen Iverson trade to Detroit for Chauncey Billups may be one of those rare ones that help both teams. The Pistons clear up future salary cap space as well as shake up a team that remains a contender in the East. The Nuggets add a point guard who can run the offense, play some defense and take a step back and let Carmelo Anthony be the focal point of the offense.

The deal also frees up a spot in Denver’s lineup for shooting guard J.R. Smith, one of the most underrated scorers in the league. We told you last week to bet on the Nuggets despite Anthony’s two-game suspension, and Smith is a big part of the reason why Denver is 3-0 against the spread.

Other first impressions: Jermaine O’Neal is playing with zeal on both ends of the floor, and has no problem being Robin to Chris Bosh’s Batman in Toronto. Add Calderon and some nice role players and the Raptors (2-1 ATS) should continue to be profitable. … Elton Brand doesn’t look good, and the 76ers (2-2 ATS) better hope it’s just rust. … Cleveland’s LeBron James had a slow start and is talking about playing fewer minutes in what could be a case of Beijing jetlag … The Warriors miss Baron Davis more than they ever imagined, though their 3-1 ATS mark so far doesn’t show it. It will soon, though.

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