The NBA — some say appropriately — considers Halloween its 2006-2007 coming out party.
A quartet of teams took the field for the first time in the regular season, though this momentous occasion was somewhat blurred in the hoopla of the NFL’s parties and ongoing wars.
“People still like football,” said New Frontier’s head of betting, Tony Nevil.
“It will be like this for three or four more weeks, at least until the end of the universities.
“These are weeks that will also define the NFL.
“Interest in basketball, professional and college, will increase when (colleges) start playing those tournaments at the end of November.
“I once heard a man say, ‘You start the NBA in short sleeves and you finish it in short sleeves, too.’
“That’s very true.”
Nevil noted that a good portion of the early NBA action focuses on totals.
“It’s a struggle those first four weeks or so as teams work through their rotations,” he said.
“I see it as an extension of the preseason.
“It’s a time when handicappers follow the teams in the local newspapers (on the Internet).”
November is also when the basketball faithful look ahead to the spring playoffs and begin to speculate on which clubs will win the league conferences.
Some Las Vegas residents may be paying more attention to the league than usual, as the city is set to host the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in February.
That level once thought unattainable was achieved in large part due to the efforts of the Maloof family, owners of the Palms Hotel and Casino, as well as the Sacramento Kings.
Friends of NBA Commissioner David Stern, ever since George Maloof Sr. owned the Houston Rockets in the 1980s, the clan had little trouble convincing Stern to put on the annual extravaganza smack in the middle of the basketball mecca. US sports betting, once bookies agreed not to take shares in the East-West Talent Show, a stance considered a bit hypocritical by some.
The future action of the first finals is, as usual, spread out.
The teams getting the most play are the ones that have dominated in recent years, although some longer shots are drawing betting attention.
“The Spurs, the Mavs, the Suns and the Heat,” said Jeff Sherman, supervisor and oddsmaker for Hilton SuperBook, as he scrolled through computer charts that indicated the top contenders.
Defending champion Miami and San Antonio, which has won two titles in years, opened as co-favorites Hilton 4/1, closely followed by Phoenix at 9/2 and Dallas at 5/1.
Detroit, the 2004 champion, was published on 8/1.
The Spurs are the current 4/1 favorites, with the Suns, Mavs and Heat at 9/2 and the Pistons at 9/1.
Sherman clicked on Cleveland, Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers when asked to name clubs considered long shots that are taking bites.
The Cavaliers have gone from 1-15 to 1-11 to win the Championship as expectations for LeBron James rise.
The Bulls, who blew out the Heat 108-66 in their opener Tuesday, are still 15/1, while the Clippers are still 40/1.
The Los Angeles Lakers, always a local favorite, also remain 40/1.
Nevil thinks he’s pretty safe in predicting that the Suns, who lost 114-106 Tuesday to the Lakers, who were playing without Kobe Bryant, will win the West.
“They’re young, they’re aggressive and if they stay healthy they’re going to be tough to beat down the left coast,” Nevil said.
He feels he’s taking a risk by predicting that Cleveland will win the East.
“They’re a long shot, but I’m sticking with LeBron and the Boys,” Nevil said.
“Maybe this is his year.
“They are young and hungry enough.”