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NBA: Buy or Sell

   by ASA - 01/29/2009

Sell – Los Angeles Lakers
There’s no denying that the Lakers are one of the NBA’s elite,
boasting a league-best 35-8 mark. Part of that success has to be
chalked up to the league’s friendliest schedule. Los Angeles has
played an NBA-low 17 road games and while it is 12-5 SU in those
games, it is only 8-9 ATS. The Lakers embark on their first real road
test of this season this weekend with a 6-game East coast swing that
is loaded with potential pitfalls.
Los Angeles will no doubt be looking ahead to the trip-closing,
nationally-televised games at Boston and Cleveland. That could easily
lead to some letdowns in the four games prior. The trip opens at
Minnesota against a Timberwolves team that boasts the NBA’s best
record in 2009, going 10-2 SU and 9-2-1 ATS.
Games at New York and Toronto could also trip the Lakers up. The
Knicks have won four straight at home, five of their last six overall
and are a solid 13-9 ATS at the Garden. The Raptors have
underachieved this season but they are as healthy as they’ve been all
season with Jose Calderon and Jermaine O’Neal both back on the court.
Combined with the emergence of Andrea Bargnani and the All-Star level
play of Chris Bosh and Toronto is back to being a dangerous team.
Los Angeles has continued to win but it’s not winning at the same
clip it was previously. The Lakers have seen their season point
differential drop nearly 1.5 points from +8.83 to +7.30 over the last
10 games and should continue to see that number fall on this trip.
They are just 13-20 ATS as a chalk of 7 points or more and will
likely be favored by that amount or more in each of the first four
games of this trip. Take advantage by considering the opposition in
those games.
Buy – Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are in the exact position as the Lakers as they are about
to tip off a 7-game home stand. After underachieving over the first
half of the season, Philly has regained the touch that led them to a
late-season playoff push in 2008. It is 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS over the
last 10 games.
Prized free-agent signing Elton Brand is back from injury and has
agreed to do whatever necessary to keep the team’s winning ways
going. Brand provides the Sixers with a low-post presence in the half
court, which they’ll need against Boston and Phoenix. Meanwhile,
games against Washington, New Jersey, Indiana and Memphis should
provide easy wins. Those four teams are a combined 10-30 SU in their
last 40 games.
Boston and Phoenix provide the biggest tests but both are winnable
games. The 76ers are catching the Celtics just prior to Boston’s game
before Lakers so might be able to catch them in a letdown situation.
The Suns are recently coming off a 6-game road trip in which they
went just 2-3-1 ATS with an average margin of loss of 14.7 points per
game.

Philly is one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now and are
getting the added benefit of playing its next seven at home. Ride the
Sixers while they’re hot.

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