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Pacific Division Preview

Pacific Division Preview

Pacific Division Preview
By Steve Merril

It’s a battle for Los Angeles in the Pacific Division, with the Lakers and Clippers in an arms race. Both L.A. teams loaded up on talent this offseason, leaving the bottom three teams to fight amongst themselves.

Golden State Warriors (2011-12: 23-43 SU, 36-29-1 ATS)

Odds to win division: +5,000
Season win total: 34.5

Why bet the Warriors: Golden State now has center Andrew Bogut and, if he’s healthy and remains that way for the entire season, the Warriors have a puncher’s chance. Bogut will make the Warriors defense much better than they’ve been and since this team has better bench depth, Golden State may surprise some teams.

Why not bet the Warriors: Coaching. Insiders say Mark Jackson simply is not the right coach for this team. Jackson only has one year of experience and his defensive philosophies don’t match the personnel. Their offense is predicated on the outside shot and if those shots aren’t falling, the Warriors are not good enough defensively to overcome that.

Season win total pick: Under 34.5

Los Angeles Clippers (2011-12: 40-26 SU, 33-33-0 ATS)

Odds to win division: +320
Season win total: 48.5

Why bet the Clippers: Los Angeles has a solid duo with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. That combo landed the Clippers in the playoffs last season and they should have no problems returning this season. Los Angeles added a nice complimentary piece in Grant Hill and if their other reaches pan out (Lamar Odom), then this team likely gets a No. 3 seed in the West.

Why not bet the Clippers: Defense. The most glaring weakness this team has is defending the two-guard spot. The Clippers simply can’t matchup at that position with the heavyweights of the West, and in the playoffs that will be their downfall. They also need their second-team defenders to become better scorers but that may be asking for too much.

Season win total pick: Over 48.5

Los Angeles Lakers (2011-12: 41-25 SU, 28-38-0 ATS)

Odds to win division: -425
Season win total: 59.5

Why bet the Lakers: The other team in Los Angles is simply loaded and one of the favorites to represent the West in the NBA Finals. The acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash make this team quite formidable and opponents are going to earn every win against the Lakers.

Why not bet the Lakers: Chemistry. It’s more difficult than it seems for superstars to mesh when playing on the same team, especially when they are learning a new style of offense. The Lakers will run a hybrid of the Princeton offense, so it will take time for them to work out the kinks. Watch their bench closely as well. The second unit isn’t all that good.

Season win total pick: Under 59.5

Phoenix Suns (2011-12: 33-33 SU, 34-32-0 ATS)

Odds to win division: +6,600
Season win total: 34.5

Why bet the Suns: Phoenix will be an afterthought out West, which means it will be significant underdogs in the majority of its games. The Suns are always dangerous on their home court and when catching teams in bad scheduling spots, this team may be able to pull off a few upsets along the way.

Why not bet the Suns: Rebuilding. Phoenix will basically have a whole new team this season. The Suns lost the face of their franchise with Steve Nash now in LA. The Suns lack talent and they’re counting on injury-prone guys like Michael Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal to carry them. Phoenix has no defense either and it will need to outscore teams to win.

Season win total pick: Under 34.5

Sacramento Kings (2011-12: 22-44 SU, 29-37 ATS)

Odds to win division: +10,000
Season win total: 29.5

Why bet the Kings: Sacramento can do two things really well: It runs a fast-paced offense and when the shots are falling, it is incredibly difficult to beat. The Kings also have one of the best rebounding teams in the league and that prowess allows them to hang around in games against superior teams. When both of those areas are on, the Kings are a tough out.

Why not bet the Kings: Talent. Sacramento has one all-around solid NBA player in DeMarcus Cousins. But his attitude sucks. Tyreke Evans has regressed after showing so much promise early on. Other than those two guys, the Kings don’t have much else. Head coach Keith Smart will have to work some magic for Sacramento to be competitive.

Season win total pick: Under 29.5

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