All Star PickEm

Stratosphere Race and Sports Director Robert Jaynes has a suggestion for oddsmakers who are fashioning a line on Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Houston. Since the contest shapes up as a close call, Jaynes thinks the numbers crunchers should take the easy way out, make the line pick'em and let the public decide who the favorite should be. "That or make the East favored by 1," said Jaynes, who slightly prefers it over the West simply because of the presence of four members of the Detroit Pistons, none of them starters.

The Pistons' Flip Saunders will coach the squad. "Nobody has any numbers out there yet, nobody," Jaynes said. "This one's a toughie." Jeff Sherman, an oddsmaker/supervisor at the Las Vegas Hilton, also favors the East, pretty much for the same reason. "The way the Pistons are playing, they have more cohesiveness on the court," Sherman said. "They're more adept; they're used to each other.

" The annual All-Star Game, which will be played in Las Vegas in 2007, is generally considered the halfway point of the NBA campaign, which began in late October/early November and typically ends in mid-June with the NBA Finals. Both bookmakers agree Detroit has been the league's main story of the season, but concur there have been others, most notably Dallas. "I'm a little surprised the Pistons have done so well," Jaynes said. "I knew they'd be strong, but I didn't expect them to be so strong out of the gate. "They play ultimate team basketball. "I knew the Mavericks would be fine, though I didn't know they'd be so consistent so early," Jaynes continued.

"I think they can give San Antonio a run for its money, though I don't know if they can hang with the Spurs in a seven-game playoff series. "I'd like to see it, though; I'd like to see someone give the Spurs a good run. That would be fun and stir up interest." The Pistons, Spurs and Mavs have dominated NBA action so far, running up a combined record of 123-32 in the early going, including a 66-9 mark on their home courts.

"You can play below .500 ball the first half of the season, start peaking at the right time, get into the playoffs and then go for it," Jaynes observed. .

By: Lynda Collins


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