Around the NBA in 24 Seconds
by Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinclair - 11/17/2008
Week No. 3 has come to a close in the NBA and you can shut the door on teams going 82-0 as the Hawks and Lakers saw their perfection come to a close.
In fact, Atlanta has lost three straight after their ridiculous start, including a bizarre home-and-home sweep at the hands of the Nets. On top of that, Atlanta is out two starters in Zaza Pachulia and Josh Smith. While this won't stop the soaring Hawks, it will certainly keep them a little closer to the ground over the next few weeks while they wait for their wings to heal.
The Lakers, meanwhile, lost at home to the Pistons in which they looked - to put it bluntly - bored. They didn't look like they cared one bit whether they won or lost. Taking that into consideration I still think they are the best team in the NBA, by far and away. Kobe Bryant can dominate any game at any time, and while the stars are definitely out in L.A. they are loving their Lakers.
Those were just a few of the subplots that were unraveling last week. And here's a quick dribble-drive look around the league in 24 seconds:
24. Surprise, surprise, the New York Knicks are 6-4 and have the highest powered offense in the league. Earlier this week the Knicks hit 19-33 three point shots to put up over 130 points at Memphis. That is unreal. But we all had that one night at college when we hooked up with the best looking girl in the bar and then aced our calculus test the next day. Well, maybe not the girl part, but the test part. Well maybe neither, but you get my point.
23. Another surprise is how suspect teams are being undervalued by the books and by the public and managing to put a smile on their backers' faces. The Hawks, Bucks, and Kings are a combined 20-10 ATS while the big dogs, the Celtics, Mavs, Rockets, and Spurs, are a pathetic 12-26 ATS. If you take only one thing out of this article, and out of my handicapping, take that: if you want to win you have to play on the teams that no one thinks are any good and you have to play against the teams that everyone thinks are great.
22. Week 3 also brought about a change in the amount of points teams were scoring. In the first two weeks teams were playing well under the set totals and the 'under' was hitting at almost 60 percent. That has dropped to just over 52 percent in one week. Part of that is teams just starting to shake off the rust and start putting the ball in the hole. Part of it is the books overadjusting to an 'under' run.
Part of it may also be that teams are fouling way too much and playing lazy defense. In the Pistons-Lakers game Detroit was in the bonus with eight minutes to play. If I was a coach I would be losing my mind with that. These are some of the greatest athletes in the world but they can't move their feet from side to side? Move your feet, damn it!
21. The New York Knicks are trying desperately to rid themselves of their bad apples. Eddie Curry is on the block and they are very close to buying out Marbury or trading them to the Spurs. I think that Marbury move would be a good look for both sides.
20. A tale of two cities, actually it is a tale of two teams that share the same city…The L.A. Lakers are outscoring their opponents by 14.4 points per game, and the Clippers are getting outscored by 13.9 ppg. Come on Baron, what did we pay you all that money for?
19. Don't look now but the Spurs have won three out of four and are only two games out in the loss column. They are averaging just 82 points per game without Parker, but this team just knows how to win despite everything being against them. They will be around in the end. And we see this all the time in sports - teams sometimes actually GAIN value when they lose a star player because the public and the books both overreact to the situation.
18. Shaq is now saying that he never had a feud with Kobe. He is saying that the feud was started and fueled by Phil Jackson. Although Shaq was quoted, while rapping, saying "I'm a horse, Kobe ratted me out, that's why I'm getting divorced," and "Hey Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes." Oh yeah, they are good buddies.
17. Make sure to keep handicapping officials. Two to watch in this early season have been Mike Callahan, who is 7-1 against the total with the games averaging 207.9 total points, and Jim Clark, who has seen the home team cover six of seven.
16. Underdogs are covering at almost 58 percent so far this year. I thought the Chinese calendar told me it was the year of the Rat. Instead, get on them puppies.
15. We have all heard the quote, "it's the NBA everyone makes a run," but man, as many years as I've been doing this it still never surprises to see it actually happen. The Mavs were beating the Bulls on Thursday 24-5 to start the game and at one point in the third quarter the Bulls were up 17. That is a 36-point swing. Play some defense, get a stop, take a time out, do something for God's sake.
14. The Oklahoma City Thunder have started out the season on fire. They are currently 1-9. Sorry about my sarcasm and my constant mentioning of the Thunder, but like I have said before they should have stayed in Seattle. It's karma baby. Long live Dale Ellis.
13. The Raptors moved Andrea Bargnani into their starting line up against the Heat and this looked like a great move by Sam Mitchell. The front line of Bargnani, Chris Bosh, and Jermaine O'Neal looked great offensively, and rebounding on both ends. Once Jose Calderon gets back from his injury Toronto should make a run. But again, credit Mitchell. It just has not been clicking since O'Neal has hit Toronto so they had to shake things up.
12. Note from overseas; Josh Childress is averaging 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds a game, and is getting paid handsomely to do it. If he plays the full three years in Greece his team will pay his taxes. Must be nice.
11. Home favorites are 64-35 straight up this season, but they are only 40-58-1 ATS.
10. The division leaders are 30-29 ATS so far this season while the bottom feeders are 23-31 ATS. If you take away the best division leader, the Lakers at 6-2 ATS, and the worst bottom feeder, the Clippers at 1-8 ATS, it would look like this; Leaders 24-26, Feeders 22-23. Not as big a difference as one might think.
9. See No. 10, and No. 11. The public seems to be overvaluing the big names and the oddsmakers are doing the same with the home teams. Never sleep on a underdog that seems like they are completely overmatched. Many of these young NBA teams play hard until the final whistle.
8. Be very careful when laying points with the Boston Celtics. They are 9-2 straight up this season but just 4-7 ATS. They are that sexy girl you meet at the bar, but then find out later that she has crabs.
7. I hope you saw the fight between the Rockets and the Suns. It was like a bunch of children getting into a tussle out on the playground and then someone's father shows up. Shaq walked into the middle of the fight and just started tossing people around like they were dolls. Awesome!
6. Everyone in Golden State can score. They place a rookie, Anthony Morrow, into their starting line-up and he goes off for 37 points on 15-20 shooting. Good Lord. The problem is that they can't stop people and they are always vulnerable to losing outright to weaker teams. I want nothing to do with this team as a chalk pick.
5. I know this isn't pro basketball related, but man am I excited for Syracuse hoops to start. Their team is going to surprise some people.
4. To date, the best play on the board has been to bet blindly on road dogs. They are 58-40-1 ATS as of Monday, good for an outstanding 59.2 percent rate.
3. The Portland Trailblazers are 6-4 straight up and 6-4 ATS, and this was all done without Greg Oden. This team is going to get better and better, with the Southwest Division faltering look for Portland to continue to rise in the Western Conference.
2. Note to self: if I want to be a better scorer in the NBA, go to London, get schooled by a London streetballer wearing jeans and a sweater vest, and I will increase my scoring average by 13 points a game. Thank you Devin Harris, you have shown me the way. Mr. Harris is now averaging 23 points a game compared to his career average of 10.2.
1. Check back next week for more Around the NBA in 24 Seconds.
Good Luck and Good Betting!