All-Star Break Benefits Some NBA Teams
by Trevor Whenham - 02/19/2007
For some teams the NBA All-Star break couldn't come at a worse time. Teams like Dallas, Toronto and even the Knicks are playing so well of late that the last thing they want to do is take a break from the court and risk losing the momentum that they have built up. Other teams, like Boston, welcome the break, and may even wish that the league didn't have to start up again this year at all. For some teams, whether they like it or not, the All-Star break couldn't have come at a better time. For one reason or another they need a few days off the court. Here's a look at four teams who will likely benefit most from the time off:
Phoenix Suns - This one is a no-brainer. Without Steve Nash this is a decent team that is about as good as some of the lower playoff seeds in the West. With Nash, the Suns are neck-and-neck with Dallas for the distinction of being the best team in the NBA. Nash has a bum shoulder and he can use all the extra time to heal it up that he can possibly get. The Canadian guard has missed four games, and the team only won the first of those games. It hasn't been any better for bettors either with just one cover in the last four, which hurts since they had been such a solid betting team up to that point. In their last game against Seattle the team only managed 90 points, which is more than 20 points below their season average. That's almost incomprehensible for a team with so many horses under the hood. The obvious hole in the lineup is the assists that Nash provides - all of the guards combined haven't been dishing up the assists that Nash does. Phoenix can do some real damage this year, and fatten some wallets, but only if Nash gets back and is healthy.
Milwaukee Bucks - It has been a pretty ugly season for Milwaukee. There was some reason for optimism after they improved by 10 wins and snuck into the playoffs last year, and the trade for Charlie Villanueva helped them up front. Nothing has gone right this year, though. It started when Bobby Simmons went down for the year with a heel injury and it never really looked up since then. Andrew Bogut is developing slowly, and the team has been ripped by injuries. Twenty games ago the Bucks were a solid 18-15 ATS, but then Michael Redd went down with a knee injury. Since then the team has gone 8-12 ATS to take back the meager profits they had given their backers. Redd is very close to coming back, and Villanueva missed the last game with a minor ankle problem, so this break comes at a perfect time. Hopefully the team's two best players can use the few extra days off to get back on the court and help the team. Even if they can't start covering some games and making bettors some money, at least they may be able to put some good wins on the board and give this team a reason for some optimism for next season. Optimism for the future is all you have if you're a Bucks fan.
Los Angeles Lakers - The Lakers don't need this break to get key players back in the lineup, unless you think Kwame Brown and Luke Walton are key players. They need this break to get their heads together. Up until the week before the All-Star Game the team was chugging along fine. They obviously stand no chance of catching the Suns at the top of the Pacific, but they are safely ahead of the Clippers in second place, and are comfortably in a playoff position. The last week was a disaster, though. They lost all five games, including back-to-back duds in Detroit and Toronto. They had been a fairly good bet over the season, too, but the 0-4-1 ATS mark over that stretch drops them to 27-25-2. There's no profit to be had there. The question is whether the team was overachieving for the first half of the year, or if they have been underachieving over the last five games. Hopefully some time in Vegas let Kobe clear his mind and get ready to get his team winning again.
Los Angeles Clippers - Despite their lowly 25-28 record the Clippers are still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. You'd never guess it, though, by the way they have been playing in February. They've won just once in their last seven to go from well above .500 to well below it. The need to snap out of their current funk if they want to make the post-season, and they should make it with the talent they have on the lineup. Contributing to the skid was a seven-game road trip that didn't go well at all. The break should let the team taste some home cooking and get re-acquainted with their families. Their record all year has shown that they aren't very good at traveling. This break will also let Elton Brand get over back spasms that have kept him out of two games, and give Cuttino Mobley a chance to rest his groin that he banged up in the last game. The team needs both of those players if they want to do any damage down the stretch. Bettors may be upset if the team uses the break to get their act together - the team is just 20-31-2 ATS, including 1-6 in the last seven, so the Clippers have made their opponents attractive all year.