April 6, 2012
The Portland Trail Blazers are realistically, if not mathematically, out of the playoff race, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still a thorn in the sides of opponents trying to run down playoff spots. The Dallas Mavericks are still battling like defending champs would, and they’re trying to keep a top-four position available to them – at the same time trying to fend off chasers right behind them that could knock them out of the bracket altogether. The Blazers haven’t played spoiler much yet, but they will have another chance Friday night when they visit the Metroplex to face the Mavericks. This is the second of three meetings this year; Dallas won, 97-94, Feb. 11 at home in the first meeting. Here’s a look at what to expect from each team, plus a final score prediction to help you make your NBA picks for tonight.
Portland Trail Blazers (26-29) @ Dallas Mavericks (31-24), 8:30 p.m. ET
The Blazers have alternated wins and losses in each of their last 10 games, and are coming off a 101-88 win over New Jersey Wednesday night. Over the last nine games, the Blazers have faced five teams currently in playoff position – and have lost all five, but the last two have been by five points or less (vs. Utah, at the Clippers). Portland’s not officially eliminated, but it is four games back in the loss column with 11 games to play. The Blazers have been one of the most-ravaged teams by injuries this year, but are slowly getting players back. However, Portland has lost its last three road games and five of its last six – the only win was at Chicago nearly three weeks ago.
The Mavericks are trying to find their footing, having alternated wins and losses the last five games, but are coming off a 95-85 home win over Memphis Wednesday night. Dallas has split its last four home games after winning four straight. Overall, however, Dallas is just 2-4 in its last six games against current non-playoff teams. Dallas has been a solid defensive team all season (93 ppg, sixth in the league), but is one of the weaker offensive teams (20 th at 94 ppg), which may provide an opportunity for Portland. However, Dallas has won six straight games at home vs. Portland (counting last year’s playoffs) and is 23-4 overall at American Airlines Arena.
The NBA odds list the Mavs as 6.5-point favorites, while the over/under has been set at 191.5 points. History is not on the side of the Blazers for this game. While Portland has been competitive against playoff-bound teams, it hasn’t has much success, and especially on the road all season. While Dallas isn’t invincible at home, its history against Portland has been overwhelmingly positive. Both teams are seeking some consistency, and another loss for Portland will likely squash any last realistic playoff shot it might have left. Dallas is still eyeing a No. 5 seed – or potentially No. 4 – so there is still plenty of motivation for the Mavericks. At home, Dallas should be able to pull away late and get the win it needs to keep pace in the playoff push.
Final Score Prediction: Mavs 98, Blazers 90
October 28, 2010
NBA Championship Odds: I think it goes without saying that the pundits do not feel good about the Sacramento Kings’ odds of winning the NBA Finals this year. The live NBA lines show the Kings at 100-to-1, which gives Atlanta less than a 1% chance of doing so. If you are going to do any NBA wagering this season, then I suggest you take advantage of the FREE $250 cash bonus Sportsbook.com offers for new clients.
Western Conference Odds: Sacramento’s odds of being the conference champions are not that good either. The linesmakers have marked Sacramento at 70-to-1 to win the West, which gives them about a 1% chance of doing so. Only the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves have worse odds to come out of the West as the champion.
Strengths: The good news has to start with having last year’s Rookie of the Year in Tyreke Evans. Nobody could stop Evans from driving to the hoop last year which is why he was able to average over 20 points per contest. Coupling that with his five rebounds and five assists per game and he became only the fourth first-year player to put up those stats. The others? Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James.
First round draft pick DeMarcus Cousins has a lot of potential too. He has some great potential since he’s such a good rebounder and has excellent footwork when working in the paint. He has a shot at giving Sacramento back-to-back Rookies of the Year.
The Kings should be a good rebounding team. They rated sixth in offensive boards a year ago and the addition of Samuel Dalembert, third best defensive rebounder in the NBA last season, should help their defensive boards now.
Weaknesses: The loss of Kevin Martin took away the Kings outside shooter. Sacramento also traded away Andres Nocioni, who was their best outside shooter from last season. Evans isn’t remarkable from outside and Beno Udrih’s range doesn’t quite cover long enough to reach behind the arc. If things get clogged up in the lane, Evans’ ability to get to the hole will be less effective.
Prediction – Miss the Postseason: Bodog has the Kings up with an estimated total of 27.5 victories. I see the Kings landing close to that number. This franchise seems to be heading in the right direction with two talented, young players in Evans and Cousins. There just isn’t a very good supporting cast around them. If those players improve quickly, and the Kings make some moves to bring in supporting players, this could be a franchise to look out for in a couple of years
seasons. I just doubt it will be this one.
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October 28, 2010
Odds to Win the NBA Title: The LA Clippers haven’t had a track record of success, making the playoffs just four times in the past 34 seasons. This history of futility is one of the reasons linesmakers have offered them at 80-to-1 to win the championship this season. Translate that into a percent chance and it’s approximately 1%. If you are going to be doing any NBA betting this season and you like those odds, then take a look at the $250 cash bonus offered by Sportsbook.com.
Western Conference Odds: The current futures odds have the Clippers at 40-to-1 to win the West. That seems sort of low even though it gives them a 2% chance of doing so. The Warriors, Minnesota, and Sacramento all have longer odds, while 40-to-1 ties Memphis.
Strengths: This team will be solid up front with Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman. Griffin was out all of last year due to knee problems but is my favorite for Rookie of the Year. He reminds a lot of experts of Carlos Boozer, but he might end up being even better. Griffin has great hands, converts well around the basket, and is a solid rebounder. He should be a double-double machine from the start.
Kaman was a surprise last year as he added a midrange jumper to his game, which allowed him to add more than 6 points per game to his average. Kaman should benefit from the attention that opposing defenses will give to Griffin, and with his rebounding ability he should have a chance at getting a lot of easy second chance looks.
Weaknesses: The most obvious weakness for this squad to me is that they had eight more victories than they should have had last year if you go by scoring margin. A team with LA’s offensive and defensive efficiency should have won only 21 times, so to improve on the 29 they put up they are going to have to be a lot better than last year (or extremely lucky again).
Turning the ball over is an issue with this squad and it begins at the point guard. Baron Davis has always had a high turnover rate and Kaman also lost the ball too much for a post player. Griffin will probably add a good deal to this stat as he gets his first taste of NBA double teams.
First year head coach Vinny Del Negro also has to make a point that Davis recognizes the offense starts with the bigs and not with him. If he is tossing up low-percentage outside shots instead of getting the post players involved, the Clippers will not put up as many points.
Prediction – Miss the Playoffs: BetUS has the team’s win projection set at 36.5 and I think that is generous. The Clippers do add Griffin to what essentially is the same team from a year ago, and since that team won eight more games than they should have, I think he helps them overcome that total and end up with the same amount as in 2009-10. Del Negro didn’t do a lot of great things while coaching in Chicago and both Kaman and Davis have had troubles with injuries. Sorry Clippers fans, but you won’t be seeing your team in the postseason this season.
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October 28, 2010
NBA Championship Odds: Things are not looking too good for the Golden State Warriors this year. The experts in the desert have them offered at 100-to-1 to win the NBA championship. The Toronto Raptors and the Minnesota Timberwovles are the only two teams with worse odds and at 100-to-1, the Warriors have less than a 1% chance of winning a championship this year. If you are going to do some NBA betting this winter and need a place for your action, take a look at the $250 cash bonus offered at Sportsbook.com.
Western Conference Odds: If you want to take the Warriors to win the West you are going to have some hefty odds. Golden State is marked at 75-to-1, which means they have a 1% probability of being the best in the West.
Strengths: Stephen Curry and David Lee. I’m waiting to watch these guys perform the pick and roll together this year. You can’t leave Curry open because he will make shots from perimeter, and Lee is one of the best in the game at rolling to the bucket.
Curry was remarkable in his first year and should keep getting better as he learns the pro game.
Weaknesses: There are a lot of problems with this team. They were terrible at rebounding last season, but the addition of Lee should help them improve.
Defensively they can’t keep anyone from scoring unless they force a turnover. There is little depth and to make matters worse some of the starting five have been fragile over the course of their careers. If Golden State gets hit with injuries, they will be in trouble.
Monta Ellis is not as good as people think. He chucks up too many attempts, doesn’t make a high rate of his shots, and the team plays better without him.
Prediction – Miss the Postseason: The Warriors will be fun to watch due to the addition of Lee to play along with Curry. However, the Warriors only won 26 times last year and that was with Corey Maggette, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow, and several other players that are gone.
While the Warrior bench was a strength last season, it’s a big weakness this season. These starters are going to have to stay healthy and be in the best condition of their careers if the Warriors are going to play an upbeat style of play like they have in the past. I just can’t see this Golden State team winning more than 35 times.
October 28, 2010
Odds to Win the 2010-11 NBA Finals: The sportsbooks are not giving the Phoenix Suns much of a chance to win this year’s NBA title. Phoenix has been marked at 50-to-1 to bring home the championship, which means they have less than a 2% chance of doing so. If you are going to be doing some NBA betting this season, then take up Sports Interaction on their FREE $125 offer.
Odds to Win the West: The Suns are a long shot to even make the Finals by winning the West. The latest lines show that Phoenix is offered at 25-to-1, which translates to less than a 4% probability of getting the job done.
Strengths: Steve Nash just keeps going strong despite the fact that he’s 36. Not only is he the top distributor in the league today, but he’s also a lights out shooter. He nailed down 42.6% of his 3-point attempts a year ago and shot 94% from the line. With Nash setting the table you know that Phoenix will once again be one of the top point producing teams in the game.
The rest of the roster is stacked with good shooters as well. Jason Richardson Channing Frye, Chris Dudley, Grant Hill, and Goran Dragic all made more than 39% from 3-point range, plus now they are adding Hedo Turkoglu, who is a career 38.3% from long range. With that a lot of sharp shooters I would once again anticipate Phoenix to finish first in 3-point shooting.
Weaknesses: Rebounding is going to be a real problem for Phoenix. With Amare Stoudemire leaving for New York, the Suns will be without their top rebounder and didn’t find someone to fill that role. Lou Amundson is also gone and he was the second best rebounder on the team. Since the Suns are going to be rather short anyway, I fully expect them to be last in the league in rebounding.
The defense in Phoenix won’t be god either. They don’t create turnovers and allow teams too many second opportunities. Nash has problems with speedier guards getting by him, and Frye is small for a four. Hill uses his size well on defense, but is getting old at 38.
Prediction – Miss the Playoffs: Sportsbook.com has the over/under win total for the Phoenix Suns listed at 41.5. I don’t think they reach the .500 mark this year, so I’d play the UNDER. Phoenix did shock a lot of bettors last season when they won 54 games and took the Lakers to six games in the Conference Finals. However, they lost a great player in Amare and didn’t fill that void with a big name talent. You can’t fairly expect this team to fair anywhere near as well without one of the top players in the league.
October 28, 2010
Odds to Win the 2010-11 NBA Finals: The Miami Heat might have been the hot topic this summer, but the LA Lakers are still the world champions and deserve respect. The NBA odds makers agree, but put the Lakers odds just behind the Heat. LA is at 3-to-1, which means roughly a 33% probability of winning it all this year. If you are going to do any NBA wagering, then I recommend you take advantage of the FREE $125 Sports Interaction will match your deposit for!
Odds to Win the West: There is no doubt in my mind that the LA Lakers are the best team in the West. They have won 3 straight West titles and are listed at -130 to make it a 4th. That gives the Lake Show a 55% probability of getting the job done.
Strengths: The apparent strength on the Lake Show is Kobe Bryant. He produces his own shots whenever he wants, drives, and is the best closer in the league. Last season he suffered injuries to his knee and finger which corresponded to a decline in his average point and rebound total. Bryant had surgery to fix his knee this summer so it will be interesting to see if he will have the same speed. Even if it does I’m not worried since he depends more on his physique than quickness.
The other strength for the Lakers comes with their bigs, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Gasol was remarkable again last year and is the perfect sidekick to Bryant. He is good at nailing the midrange jumper and can move the ball as well as any post in the NBA. He spreads the court not only for Bryant, but for Bynum down on the block.
Bynum is a huge body who can score down low and blocks shots on defense. If he can keep on the court for a full season you can expect him to be in the All-Star game come February.
The Lakers seem to fly under the radar on defense, but this team was outstanding on that side of the court a year ago. Picking up Ron Artest gave the Lakers four tough defenders in the starting lineup, enough to compensate for opposing guards being able to get past Derek Fisher.
Weaknesses: The one area of concern for me is with Fisher. Fisher looked old for a lot of the regular season, which is why I was dumbfounded to see LA give him a three year deal this summer. Gone is Jordan Farmar, supplanted by Steve Blake. This is an upgrade since LA needs a good perimeter shooter from the one.
Last year the Lakers declined to make a deal at the trade deadline for a point guard and they still won the title. They didn’t address the issue over the summer, but if problems occur early in the year then I expect LA to make a move.
Prediction – 1st in the West: The win projection for this team has been set at 56.5. That appears about right on to me so I don’t recommend a play either way. Health is an issue with Bynum and Bryant, and if there are any hovering issues they will get plenty of rest coming down the stretch. I see LA jumping out to an early lead in the West and resting up before the playoffs over the final couple of months.
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October 28, 2010
NBA Championship Odds: It’s nearly unpleasant when a team with odds of 150-to-1 isn’t even worth the bet, but that’s how I feel about the Minnesota Timberwovles this year. Minnesota has the worst odds in the league, along with the Toronto Raptors. If you feel the books are mistaken and want to get your NBA betting in, then head over to Sports Interaction and take advantage of the $125 match bonus they are offering.
Odds to Win the West: The sportsbooks think this is obviously the worst team in the conference, offering 100-to-1 odds that they will win the West. The Warriors are have the next shortest odds at 75-to-1.
Strengths: There is no doubt that Kevin Love is the Wolves’ best player. He is a good rebounder, but his passing skills really make him different from other post players. That is why Minnesota is so much better offensively when he is on the floor.
Defensively, he struggles. He needs to get better in transition and when defending one-on-one down low.
It was a joke that he came off the bench last year, he has to get 40 minutes per night and he’ll be in line for an All-Star appearance.
I also like Minnesota’s depth. Jonny Flynn, Michael Beasley, and Nikola Pekovic are all players loaded with potential. I need to see how Beasley reacts to the trade and playing in a stress free atmosphere like Minnesota. Flynn was the third leading scorer on last season’s roster, but he has to get smarter with the ball. Pekovic was one of the top players in Europe but is like Love, a lot better on offense than he is on defense.
Weaknesses: We are looking at the third-worst offense and second-worse defense from a season ago, so I could go on for an awkward length about what’s wrong with this team.
Roster redundancy is a problem. They picked three point guards in the 2009 draft instead of going after a wing scorer. They have too many bigs who can’t play defense and are undersized. The Wolves were terrible at blocking shots last season, and didn’t do much to shore up that problem.
The moves this team makes confuses me. Signing Darko Milicic and drafting Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with consecutive picks are just two glaring recent examples. Trading for Beasley was a strong move and while Jefferson and Love probably couldn’t play well together, they traded Jefferson away for a lot less than they could have if he came back and played well.
Prediction – Miss Playoffs: This team might have been the worst in the league last year, but ended up with more wins than the Nets. This year the team should be better with scorers like Wesley Johnson and Beasley. I also like the bench the team has which should give them an advantage over a lot of second units. Still, don’t be tricked into believing Minnesota will be in the playoff picture because they won’t be.
October 28, 2010
NBA Championship: The Denver Nuggets can be looked at as long shots to take home a championship this season. The latest NBA odds show that Denver is 30-to-1, meaning that they have about a 3% chance of winning the championship. If you want to do some NBA gambling this season, then take a look at the $250 cash bonus from Sportsbook.com!
Western Conference Odds: Checking with the lines makers, the Nuggets have the 6th best opportunity of winning the Western Conference this year. You can get the odds of 15-to-1 on the Nuggets, meaning there is a 6% probability this team will play in the NBA Finals.
Strengths: The Nuggets have one of the better outside shooting squads in the league. Point guard Chauncey Billups makes 39% of his 3-point attempts and two guard Aaron Affalo hit at a 43.4% rate last season. Reserves Ty Lawson (41%) and JR Smith (who hit 39% or higher in three straight seasons before last year) can also knock down open shots.
The picking up of Al Harrington will help this team stretch the defense with a big who can also hit from the outside. That should leave open space for Carmelo Anthony to work the interior. Anthony was one of the best guys in the league early last season, but relied too much on his perimeter shot after the All-Star break (bad idea when you shoot 31% from behind the arc).
Weaknesses: Right now the injury status of Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin show a hole on the inside for Denver. Harrington is a small power forward who isn’t a great defender or rebounder. Nene runs the floor and is a decent distributor but he also doesn’t rebound well nor does he block shots. Early on I see Denver having troubles defending down low and allowing too many second chances.
Martin is going to miss some time this year due to his knee troubles. He has invariably been known as a great defender and finisher, but will that explosiveness return when he comes back from his injuries?
Bird Man also has knee troubles, but he shouldn’t miss as much of the season as Martin. When Andersen was on the court the Nuggets played a lot better on defense, because he can make up for a lot of errors by the perimeter players. He is one of the best shot blockers in the league when playing at full strength.
Pick – 7th in the Western Conference: I’ll pick the Nuggets to make the playoffs this year, but that is counting on Carmelo being with the team the entire year. Since he hasn’t made a commitment to the franchise, they might have to shop him around the trade deadline to make sure they get some value in return. Smith needs to get his shot back and Anthony needs to regain his early season form from a year ago. I also like Lawson and think he could have a breakout year. There are just too many trouble spots for me to think of Denver as a serious contender out West.
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October 28, 2010
Odds to Win 2010-11 NBA Finals: There are not a lot of backers for the Utah Jazz to win the Championship this year, as the lines makers have marked the Jazz at 35-to-1 to win the title. That means there is approximately a 2.5% probability of them getting the job done. If you are going to be betting the NBA and need a place to place your bets, then take a look at the $125 match bonus offered by Sports Interaction.
Odds to Win the West: Utah isn’t receiving a lot of attention in the West, with the NBA lines makers listing Utah at 20-to-1 to even make the Finals. Seven teams have higher odds than Utah does, and I think they are a better team than a lot of other organizations with better numbers. The analysts think the Jazz will have approximately a 5% probability of being the West’s representative in the Championship series.
Strengths: Utah made a strong transaction in picking up Al Jefferson from Minnesota. He could effectively take the place of Carlos Boozer, who departed in free agency to the Chicago Bulls. The good thing about Jefferson is that he can start at center, which gets Paul Millsap into the starting lineup at the four.
Both Millsap and Jefferson are brilliant finishers, and point guard Deron Williams does a remarkable job of penetrating to the basket. When you look at Williams 19 points and 10 assists per night, you can easily see that he is among the best in the NBA at his position.
Weaknesses: Utah will be without Mehmet Okur for quite some time. He tore his Achilles last year in the postseason, so will bet out for part of the season. Also, Kyle Korver departed in free agency, so I think there might be a problem with perimeter shooting. That could clog the inside and make it tough for the Jazz to utilize on their biggest abilities.
Also, their interior defense isn’t going to be great. Jefferson is only 6’10?, so he’s going to be shorter than most other big men. Millsap is small as well at 6’8? and even though he sent back 1.2 shots per night, it’s still not going to be tough for other players to get their shots off. This is another reason that they are going to suffer without Okur, a lack of talent coming off the bench. If of the other bigs gets hurt, or has trouble with fouling on any given night, the Jazz could be in trouble.
Picks – Sixth in the West: I think the combo of Williams and Jefferson is going to provide for some electric basketball this year and Jerry Sloan has experience maximizing his teams. However, I don’t see the Jazz going far in the playoffs, there just isn’t enough around those two. Look for a first-round exit out of Utah.
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October 28, 2010
NBA Championship Odds: The Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be everyone’s up and coming team this year and the oddsmakers have them listed at 16-to-1 to win the NBA title. That gives the Okies a 6% probability of taking down the Finals. If you are going to do some NBA betting then take advantage of the $250 cash bonus offered by Sportsbook.com.
Odds to Win the West: Oklahoma City is second behind the LA Lakers in terms of who the NBA odds makers think will be the Western Conference champions. If you want Oklahoma City you will received 6-to-1 odds to win the West. That gives the Thunder approximately a 15% prospect of doing so.
Strengths: Kevin Durant is an absolute beast. He did a remarkable job of getting to the foul line, averaging a NBA high 10 free throws per contest. When you make 90% from the charity stripe, that’s a large bump to your team’s point total. He led the league in points per game, the youngest player ever to do so, but he was also above average for his position in rebounding and blocking shots as well.
Durant’s only knock is a low assist total and that he turns the ball over too frequently. Still, he is one of the top players in the game and has been improving rapidly each year.
Russell Westbrook is no slouch either. One of the most athletic point guards in the game who also does a great job of driving the lane and getting to the foul line. If Westbrook can find an outside shot then he’ll be in the conversation among top point guards.
This team does a remarkable job of clamping down on defense and that should only get better with Cole Aldrich in the middle. Every one of their starters is long for their position, which enables all of them to be near the top of the list for blocks at their positions. This was the best shot blocking team from a year ago, yet no individual player had more than 100.
Weaknesses: Perimeter shooting. Outside of James Harden, this team didn’t have a real threat from long range. That permitted defenses to sag in and help out when Durant or Westbrook drove to the rim. The addition of Daequan Cook will hopefully give the Thunder another outside threat.
The only other problem is interior scoring. Nenad Krstic has a good mid-range game that helps extend the court but doesn’t score in the paint or grab too many offensive rebounds. Jeff Green likes to play on the outside but ended up shooting so bad last year that he did more damage than good. Durant doesn’t post up on the block much either.
Predictions – 4th in West: I’m not as sold on the Thunder this year as a lot of pundits are. They still have some weaknesses to improve on and I don’t think they can stay as healthy as they did last year, when four of their five starters played every single night. Even if they aren’t as lucky with injuries, the Thunder do have some depth with Serge Ibaka turning into a pleasant surprise and a mix of youth and experienced vets coming off the pine. Oklahoma City didn’t make any major additions though, so any growth would have to come from the young players continuing to get better. That should be canceled out by not being as fortunate with injuries.
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October 28, 2010
Odds to Win the 2010-11 NBA Finals: The Portland Trailblazers are are listed at some solid odds to win the NBA title at 25-to-1. That means the oddsmakers are giving Portland less than a 4% chance of winning it all. If you are going to do some NBA betting and think these betting odds look as good as I do, take a look at the $125 match bonus being given away by Sports Interaction.
Odds to Win the West: Portland has the fifth strongest NBA odds to win the conference at 12-to-1, behind LA, Thunder, San Antonio, and Dallas. That gives the Blazers roughly an 8% prospect of being the Western Conference champions.
Strengths: Portland’s offense centers around two main focal points, no turnovers and crashing the offensive glass. The Blazers do not turn the ball over and they are large enough in the paint to be a good enough rebounding team to give the offense a second chance. This is why the Blazers ranked third in shot attempts per possession a year ago and still scored a decent amount in spite of having the slowest tempo in the NBA.
The addition of Marcus Camby gives the Blazers a remarkable front court. When everyone is healthy you have LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden getting the starting nod. Aldridge isn’t aggressive enough, but he can get his shot off over anyone. Oden is as injury prone as anyone, but is a superior rebounder and blocks a ton of shots. The other knock on Oden is that he fouls way too much, so staying on the court for more than half the game is a real rarity.
Camby may not be able to score, but he is so dominant on the boards that he still has immense value. Plus, he is an outstanding passer who can help his teammates do the scoring. Joel Przybilla is another big who has had health issues, but he’s also a good shot blocker and rebounder. Like Oden, he’s limited to what he can do on offense and is not a great shooter.
Weaknesses: Andre Miller is a sound point guard, but he’s a little out of his element with this team. Nate McMillian likes to use Brandon Roy in the pick and roll game, but that’s not going to work as well if Roy doesn’t have someone who can spread the floor by making perimeter shots. The post players are poor shooters, but they bring value with their rebounding and defensive presence, Miller doesn’t. If Portland can trade for a point who can shoot the ball, then I think they will be much improved.
Predictions – Second in West: This was the fresh face of the West before the Thunder burst onto the scene last season. The difference between these two teams last season was the Blazers had health issues and the Thunder didn’t. The Blazers couldn’t have had their guys miss more time and the Thunder had nine guys average 79 games. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that was a fluke and the Blazers will be able to get a little more out of their horses this season.
The Blazer bench is a big plus and they have the cap space and draft picks to make a move. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Portland compete for the top seed in the West.
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October 28, 2010
NBA Title Odds: The Memphis Grizzlies are not a real popular choice to win the NBA Finals this year. BetUS has Memphis marked at 80-to-1, which actually means they stand a less than 1% chance of winning a title. If you are going to do any NBA betting this season, make sure you take a look at the $250 cash bonus offered by Sportsbook.com!
Odds to Win the West: Memphis’ odds of representing the West in the Finals are not much brighter. The live lines have the Grizzlies at 40-to-1 to win the conference, giving them around a 2% probability of doing so.
Strengths: The biggest asset on Memphis is the talent of their front court. Zach Randolph had a nice 2009-10 season and should be posting for 20+ points per game and 10+ rebounds. Of course, he was arrested for allegedly financing a drug ring this summer which shows he still might have the personal flaws that have followed him in the past.
Marc Gasol is the best distributor on this squad and shot over 58% from the floor. The trouble is that the other Grizzlies are like a black hole, and when he gives up the rock he rarely gets another opportunity. He is a nice compliment to Randolph since he is better on the opposite side and can be good at the high post with his shooting touch.
Weaknesses: The Grizzlies got exceedingly lucky last season when their best six players missed little time to injury. That meant the Grizzlies did not have to rely on their bench, which was unbelievably terrible. It should be a little better this year with the addition of Tony Allen and Acie Law, plus a couple of rookies Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez. Hasheem Thabeet and Sam Young both should improve, but then again that’s more due to the fact that they can’t get much worse.
The point guard situation is not great either. Mike Conley is undersized and below average. He did get better in the second half last season and put on some muscle, which hopefully means he won’t be so overpowered by stronger guards. Law is the only other true point guard on the team, and he looked bad last year in Atlanta. If Conley gets hurt, this team is going to be scrambling at the one.
Picks: Miss Playoffs – Last year Memphis reached 40 wins, but I don’t think they can repeat that win total. This is a young squad, which should mean they can grow and do better this season. However, they can’t avoid the injury bug any better than they did a season ago and with Randolph’s off-the-court problems, can he really be expected to repeat last year’s numbers?
October 27, 2010
NBA Championship Odds: There isn’t much credit by the oddsmakers to the New Orleans Hornets this season. Chris Paul and company are marked by Sportsbook.com at 80-to-1 to win the NBA Championship, which is approximately a 1% chance. If you are going to do any NBA betting this year, then take advantage of the $250 cash bonus offered by Sportsbook.com!
Odds to Win the West: Obviously, if the oddsmakers do not give New Orleans much of a probability to win the championship, they in all likelihood would not be sold on them to win their conference either. That certainly is the case with the live betting odds being 30-to-1, meaning approximately a 3% probability they will be the West’s representative in the Finals.
Strengths: This team rises and falls with Chris Paul. He has to stay healthy this season after logging just 45 contests a year ago. He is the best floor leader in the NBA and can be relied on to notch 19 points and 10+ assists per night. He also will have the strongest group of starters to work with that he has had in his career.
Marcus Thornton was one of the most promising first year players in the NBA last year. He doesn’t fall victim to turnovers and can get to the hole. Thornton needs to spread the ball a little better, but is a sound shooter than can generate offense.
Trevor Ariza came over from Houston in the Darren Collison trade. Now that he doesn’t have to be the team’s superstar like he was supposed to be for the Rockets last season, I think he’ll be much improved as a supplement to Paul.
David West is a good offensive player at the four, and is a great complement Paul. Emeka Okafor is a strong defender and rebounder, but is not a threat on offense.
Weaknesses: New Orleans does not have the skills to get to the foul line. Thornton and West both shoot a high percentage, they just don’t get any attempts. Okafor does shoot a lot of free throws, but the problem is that he’s not a good shooter.
The defense should improve with Okafor, but last year this team didn’t block enough shots. West is a weak defender and the bench is not very deep to say the least so if Okafor is sitting out, the opposition will have a heyday down low.
While I have a lot of trust in the starting five, the team has a lack of talent after that. Peja Stojakovic is a sound shooter who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, but he isn’t on the floor enough and can’t do much on the other side of the floor. There is no talented backups for Paul or Okafor.
Predictions – Just Missing the Postseason: As strong as the top five are, that is going to put a lot of pressure on them to stay healthy. If this unit can stay largely healthy, the Hornets might be able to sneak in the postseason. New Orleans just doesn’t have the bench to compete on a nightly basis with some of the other top squads in the conference.
October 27, 2010
Odds to Win the NBA Title: The Houston Rockets come into the 2010-11 season going under noticed in terms of their chances for taking home a NBA championship. Bodog has Houston offered at 40-to-1, which translates to a 2% probability of being the Finals victors. If you are going to do any NBA betting this season, then take a look at the $500 match bonus offered by BetUS!
Western Conference Odds: In the eyes of the experts, it’s not a promising scenario that you will find the Rockets representing the Western Conference in this year’s Finals. Houston is currently at 18-to-1 to win the West, which gives them about a 5% chance of doing so.
Strengths: The first thing I have to mention about this group is how well they did last year with their two stars, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, not playing a single game in a Houston uniform. With what should have been a bunch of role players, the Rockets pulled off 42 wins. Now that Yao has returned, albeit in a limited role, you would think this team is going to be better.
Houston should also be a good outside shooting team this season. Kevin Martin has nailed more than 40% from beyond the arc in two of the last three seasons, plus Houston has Courtney Lee (37%), Shane Battier (39%), and Chase Budinger (37%). If Ming can still attract the double-teams, that should leave a lot of open looks for the shooters.
Weaknesses: This is a team that has struggled to say healthy. Yao is going to see limited minutes (24 per game) and won’t be available on back-to-back nights. Martin has missed 88 times the past three seasons and when he came back from injury a year ago he sputtered to find his shot. Both of these players are going to have to be on the court for Houston to improve last season’s win total.
While the Rockets have two of the faster guards in Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry, the big guys in the paint have issues lumbering down the court. Yao wasn’t fast before his foot injury and he might even be able to beat Brad Miller in a foot race. Luis Scola, Battier, Hayes, and Patrick Patterson aren’t fast either. Will the Rockets be able to defend faster teams? Will Brooks and Lowry be able to push the tempo when they are the only ones up the floor? Those are questions I’m looking for answers to.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note that those big bodies will help the biggest weakness from a season ago, which was their size. The Rockets had a lot of troubles against opposing bigs so anticipate improvement with interior defense.
Predictions – 8th in the West: I like this squad if they can stay healthy. The 42 victories last season were no outlier with a outstanding head coach in Rick Adelman and a front office that is one of the best in the league. If both Yao and Martin can stay remain on the floor then this team will challenge in the West. That’s a big if for me, but I do think they make the playoffs.
October 27, 2010
NBA Title Odds: The Dallas Mavericks are currently marked down at +1800 to win the 2010-11 NBA title at Sportsbook.com. This means the experts in the desert give them about a 5% chance at taking home the title this season. The Mavs have the eigth best odds of winning. If you are going to do any NBA betting this season, then take advantage of the $500 match bonus offered by BetUS!
Odds to Win the West: The odds of the Mavs reaching the Finals by beating the rest of the West stand at +1100. This means that the books think that there is a 9% probability that Mark Cuban’s bunch will have an opportunity to play for a title.
Strengths: What has me hopeful about the Mavs is their size. Getting Tyson Chandler gives the Mavs two guys over seven foot tall down low (he’ll pair up with Brendon Haywood). This also allows Dirk Nowitzki to not have to play any center and his 7-foot height will be a difficult matchup for other power forwards.
Shawn Marion might only be 6’7?, but he’s forever played bigger than his height and is a great rebounder at the three. If Caron Butler plays shooting guard, then that gives Dallas a 6’7? perimeter player that can get his shot off over most other twos in the league.
Jason Kidd is one of the bigger points guards in the NBA at 6’4? and even though hasn’t been quit as strong rebounding the last four years, he is still one of the tops in the league at bringing down boards.
The height of Dallas, particularly with their forwards will enable them to matchup versus the height of the LA Lakers and Portland Trailblazers, which is something not a lot of other teams will be able to accomplish.
The other thing I like on this team is second-year player Rodrigue Beaubois. This guy showed a lot of potential in a small amount floor time a year ago. Rick Carlisle is going to have a difficult time finding him minutes while keeping his veterans happy, but if Beaubois lives up to the hype then he becomes a legitimate no. 2 threat after Nowitzki.
Weaknesses: This is one of the older squads in the league and that has to catch up with them at some point. The Mavericks don’t really rely on speed, so getting long in the tooth does not hamper them as much as it could other teams. Kidd (37), Butler (30), Terry (32), and Marion (32) are all over 30. All four of them have began to see their numbers head downhill and one can only guess what another year will do.
Another problem I see with Dallas is they have been a bit lucky the last few years. Last year the Mavs were 18-7 in games decided by five or less and since 2004-05 they have gone 93-44 in the same spot. That is extraordinarily lucky. Maybe they have a skill that no other team in the league does, but my guess would be you are going to see some regression to the mean this year.
Pick: Fifth in the West – The Mavs won 50 or more games in 10 consecutive seasons, an astonishing effort no doubt. However, I think this is the season they fall under the number. Their luck in winning close games has to end sometime and that will drop them just below the half-century mark. This is still a playoff team, but one that will probably lose in the first round of the playoffs (reminding us of what happened in 3 of the last 4 years). Of course, I’m rating this team on who is on their roster right now, but Cuban has an eagerness to spend and make the big move. You have to figure they will spend and upgrade their roster at some point this season.
October 27, 2010
NBA Title Odds: A team flying under the radar this year is the San Antonio Spurs. The sportsbooks have the Spurs offered at 25-to-1 to win the NBA championship, which means there is a 4% probability the Spurs will bring win yet another trophy. If you want to do some NBA betting this year, take a look at the 100% match bonus available at Sports Interaction.
Odds to Win the West: The Spurs have the 3rd strongest chance of coming out of the West, with the oddsmakers listing them at 10-to-1 to do so. That gives San Antonio around a 10% chance of being the team from the West that makes the Finals. A nice number if you consider their recent history.
Strengths: Gregg Popovich is one of the best head coaches in the league and he is always looking to the future rather than focused on short-term wins. The Spurs keep rebuilding and doesn’t make many errors. They can afford to take gambles on foreign talent, and that has gave them plenty of value with Manu Ginobili and hopefully now with Tiago Splitter.
The Spurs have won 50 or more times in each of the past 12 seasons and while Tim Duncan and Ginobili might be on the wrong side of 30, young stars like George Hill and Splitter are there to keep the Spurs moving along in the right direction.
With Tony Parker at the point, Ginobili the shooting guard, Richard Jefferson at the three, Antonio McDyess and Duncan in the post there isn’t a more experienced, veteran lineup in the league. Naturally with that age they are going to need rest so their bench players have to play well, but I don’t think that is going to be a problem.
Hill is a great defender that can hit shoot the three, filling the role Bruce Bowen held down a few years ago. Splitter will be a solid backup center who is a brilliant defender and good distributor.
DeJuan Blair was a late draft bargain a year ago due to his small size, but proved to be violent with his offensive rebounding a year ago. James Anderson was another solid draft pick to fill a need on the wing and Matt Bonner extends defenses with his ability to hit from outside.
Weaknesses: This team isn’t getting any younger. Duncan is 34 and Ginobili is 33, also you have to worry about Parker’s speed at 28. All three of these guys have had injury problems with Duncan’s knees, Ginobili always ending up on the floor or crashing in to someone, and Parker’s foot troubles.
This team has a supporting cast that can help their stars carry them far, but the stars need to play at a high level if San Antonio is going to make a run. That means keeping their three best players on the court is key.
Predictions – second in the West: The way the Spurs ended last season I’m just not ready to close the door on them just yet. Popovich has a skill for getting the most out of his roster and finding players who fit their roles perfectly.
Plus, last year San Antonio was a bit unfortunate in the win department in that their average margin of victory should have translated into 7 more victories. To me that means another 50 win year and a very high finish in the West. They are still behind the Lakers, but San Antonio could be a tough out in the playoffs.
October 27, 2010
Championship Odds: Sorry Toronto fans, there’s no good news here. Viewing the latest NBA odds, Toronto is the least promising team (same odds as the Minnesota Wolves) to win the NBA Finals this year at +15,000 over at Bookmaker.
Odds to Win the East: As you’ve probably already predicted, Toronto isn’t given much of a chance to win the East either. In fact, their odds of reaching the Finals are on the dot the same as winning the title (+15,000, which is likely as high as the sportsbook is willing to go on any futures wagers).
Suggestion: Don’t take any of the futures wagers regarding Toronto unless you can find a good “under” on their season win total. They aren’t going to win their division, conference, or a title, no chance.
Strengths: Finding the biggest strength for the Raptors isn’t exactly easy. They lost (arguably) their two strongest players in Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu and did not do much to replace them. They are a young and comparatively fast team, but their two top stars, Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon both play point guard. Possibly they can trade one of them to acquire some talent at a different position, but for now their isn’t much going for Toronto..
One area I can see them being prosperous is on the perimeter in terms of shooting. Jack, Calderon, Leandro Barbosa, and Linas Kleiza are all strong sharp shooters and should help put some points on the board for Toronto.
Weaknesses: The young age is a two-sided sword when it comes to the league. It’s great to have young talent, but if you don’t have any sound veterans to compliment them, there will be some growing pains. The Raptors fall into that category. They are also without a true game changer and are extremely soft defensively in their frontcourt. To be blunt, Toronto just won’t have an abundance of ability on the floor this year.
Predictions: It’s going to be a very long, cold winter in Toronto for the Raptors fan base. They are the only organization in their division that did not make substantial improvements and they were merely a decent team last year. It would be taken as a major upset if they did not finish in the basement of the division in the 2010-11 season.
I place the Raptors in fifth place in the division this season. The Celtics are already an established team, while New Jersey, 76ers, and Knicks all made some major positive changes over the summer. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see much success for Toronto in the coming years.
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October 27, 2010
Odds to Win the 2010-11 NBA Finals: New Jersey won just 12 games last season. They have nowhere to go but up, however, a championship would be extremely unlikely. The NBA odds agree, listing New Jersey at +8,000 to end the 2010-11 season with a championship at Sportsbook.com.
Eastern Conference Odds: The live odds have New Jersey at +2,500 to win the Eastern Conference. Of course this doesn’t project them to do very well, but in the grand scheme of things there are 10 other teams in the conference with equal or worse odds to make the NBA Championship. Considering how bad they finished last season, this has to be looked at as a plus for the organization.
Recommendation: I can’t suggest wagering on the Nets to win or make the Finals, but I would recommend taking them as heavy underdogs early in the season. They’ve made a lot of moves and should be a stronger team early on in the approaching regular season.
Strengths: The Nets have a lot of quickness in their backcourt with Devin Harris, Jordan Farmar, and Terrence Williams. They should be able to drive to the basket and create shots, or run pick-and-rolls with rising big man Brook Lopez as well as power forward Troy Murphy.
Overall, the Nets have some decent offensive power. They didn’t land James or any of the other huge names in the free agent market in the offseason, but they immensely improved their scoring potential on the whole.
Weaknesses: New Jersey is going to have problems in their defensive frontcourt, that is for sure. Lopez is a good rim protector and both he and Murphy are good on the boards, but they are two of the slowest players in the NBA at their positions. Their bench doesn’t offer much help either, so expect the Nets to give up a lot of easy points in the lane.
Predictions: As I said before, New Jersey can only improve on what they did last season. They’ve got a new owner, new general manager, new head coach, three new assistants, a new build building, and a lot of new faces. They urgently need some assistance on defense, but I see them slugging it out with the Knicks and Philadelphia for the middle tier in the Atlantic.
I’m calling for a fourth place finish in the division for New Jersey, but I’m actually very bullish about this organization and would not be at all surprised if they surpassed my expectations.
October 27, 2010
Odds to Win the 2010-11 NBA Finals: It was a woeful 2009-10 season for Philadelphia, who ended up just 27-55. Things are better though in Philly, but, viewing the current NBA lines, Vegas doesn’t look at this organization as a potential contender, listing them at +10,000 to win the NBA Finals.
Odds to Win the East: Philadelphia doesn’t have the worst odds to win the Eastern Conference at +5,000 (the Cavs, Pacers, and Toronto are worse), but they aren’t really predicted to have a major impact. They are underdogs, at best, to reach the playoffs.
Recommendation: This might be a team to play on against the spread early in the year with last year’s struggles still fresh in every one’s minds. With that being mentioned, a bet on the Sixers to win the championship or East would basically be throwing money away.
Strengths: I believe the 76ers made the right deal when they signed Doug Collins as the new head coach. Collins was a top overall pick for Philadelphia back in 1973 and played all eight of his professional seasons there. He is the kind of coach this squad needs to start progressing toward the future. He understands Philly’s basketball culture and I believe he will help this team improve quite a bit this year.
Philadelphia had the 2nd pick in the NBA Draft this summer, and their choice was an easy one. They selected Ohio State point guard Evan Turner, who most pundits agree was the most NBA-ready player in the draft. Turner will likely start on the wing. He’s a great scorer and rebounds exceptionally well for his position. This is the type of guy the 76ers should try to build their franchise around.
The addition of Turner makes the 76er backcourt better at getting to the hoop on every possession as Andre Iguodala is already a well-established scorer. They have speed, athleticism and the ability to create their own shots.
Weaknesses: Defense seems to be the strongest question for the 76ers, especially down low. Sam Dalembert was dealt in the offseason and he was their best shot blocker and a defensive presence in the paint. Elton Brand is not very big and has been going downhill athletically. It’s hard to see who, if anyone, will come in and be manageable against the league’s other bigs.
Picks: I think Philadelphia fans should be charged about their team. Their best players are young and have a lot of talent and their new coach has them going in the right direction. I think they may be a year (or a defensive big man acquisition) away from making the playoffs, but I do expect them to be very competitive.
I’m taking the Sixers at 3rd place in the Atlantic behind Boston and the Knicks. It would be a lot to ask to expect them to knock Boston off of the top of the Atlantic, but don’t be shocked if they give New York a run for their money.
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October 27, 2010
Odds to Win the NBA Title: The new-look New York Knicks are listed at +4,000 (40 to 1) to win the NBA Finals when viewing the current NBA betting odds from Sportsbook.com. The Knicks have transformed a lot of their roster in the offseason, making them one of the toughest teams to predict in the league for the approaching 2010-11 season.
Eastern Conference Odds: Considering just the East this year, Bookmaker has the Knicks at +2,500 (25 to 1) to win the conference. A $100 stake on New York at these odds would pay out $2,500 if the Knicks surprised the NBA and made one of the best turnarounds in NBA history from one season to the next.
Suggestion: New York is a long shot, but I do think there is some value here plainly because of the unknown. There are a lot of new faces on this team and, let’s face it, that is a positive thing. The issue here is that New York has a lot to show before you can consider them as contenders with the likes of the Celtics, Miami, and the Magic. I do like their prospects of making the playoffs this year, however, and anything is possible in the playoffs.
Strengths: New York lost some talented guys (David Lee, Chris Duhon, Al Harrington), but whatever formula they were shooting for last season simply was the final solution. What management has done in the summer is add some quality players and some much-needed depth. Notably new to the squad this year are Raymond Felton, Ama’re Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph, and Ronnie Turiaf.
Felton is an upgrade at point guard, while Stoudemire can be a controlling force and Randolph is becoming a solid NBA player. Throw in returners Wilson Chandler, who is reportedly in the best shape of his career, and Danilo Gallinari, and you have a team that New York fans can be bullish about.
The Knicks will also gain from playing on one of the worst divisions in the league. The Atlantic has the Celtics as their top-tier team, but New York will be competing with the Nets, 76ers, and Toronto as well, meaning they will have an opportunity to rack up wins and probably earn a playoff spot.
Weaknesses: This is a very young team and it’s a group of guys that have not played together very long. The versatility of their personnel gives them a lot of options as far as where they can move guys to try to create match up problems, but that also means that they may constantly be moving guys around. That’s not necessarily a good thing when you are trying to build team chemistry.
Picks: New York is young and athletic. They should also be better on defense, their greatest weakness over the last several seasons. New York lost their best player, their lottery pick, and only signed one of the important free agents they were after. Who would have thought that they would come out looking so good?
I’m selecting the Knicks to finish second in the Atlantic this season. They did a lot of positive things for once in the offseason and could stun a lot of people. They may not do as well if they were in any other division in the league, but being in the Atlantic gives them the opportunity to make a large jump on last season.
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