Around the NBA in 24 Seconds
by Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinclair - 12/24/2008
It's almost Christmas and we in the NBA World know that a lot of the most watched, most bet, and most memorable games of the year are on Christmas Day. In honor of that we are going to do our first mock NBA playoff bracket:
1. Boston Celtics
2. Cleveland Cavalier
3. Orlando Magic
4. Atlanta Hawks
5. Detroit Pistons
6. Miami Heat
7. New Jersey Nets
8. Chicago Bulls
Boston Celtics defeat Chicago Bulls (4-0)
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat New Jersey Nets (4-0)
Orlando Magic defeat Miami Heat (4-2)
Atlanta Hawks defeat Detroit Pistons (4-2)
Boston Celtics defeat Atlanta Hawks (4-3)
Orlando Magic defeat Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3)
Boston Celtics defeat Orlando Magic (4-2)
1. L.A. Lakers
2. New Orleans Hornets
3. Houston Rockets
4. Phoenix Suns
5. San Antonio Spurs
6. Utah Jazz
7. Denver Nuggetts
8. Portland Trailblazers
L.A. Lakers defeat Portland Trailblazers (4-2)
New Orleans Hornets defeat Denver Nuggets (4-2)
Utah Jazz defeat Houston Rockets (4-3)
San Antonio Spurs defeat Phoenix Suns (4-3)
L.A. Lakers defeat San Antonio Spurs (4-2)
New Orleans Hornets defeat Utah Jazz (4-2)
New Orleans Hornets defeat L.A. Lakers (4-3)
Boston Celtics defeat New Orleans Hornets (4-2)
And now, ladies and gents, I give to you Around The NBA In 24 Seconds:
24. I have to start right away with the weekly Syracuse Orange Update: lost a heartbreaker to Cleveland State but bounced back with a big road win at No. 23 Memphis. Should stay somewhat close to their No. 11 ranking.
23. The +/- has become a huge stat this year in the NBA and the New Orleans Hornets starting five is a combined +18. That is the best +/- of any starting five in the league. The +/- stat is calculated by taking the score while you are playing and keeping track of the lead or deficit that you have during your time on the court.
22. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Lakers all have a point differential of at least +9.4 points per game. The Orlando Magic are in fourth at 5.5. The Cavs, Celtics, and Lakers are winning games easily and getting their big guns some rest late in games. This should come in handy late in the season.
21. Devin Harris is averaging 24 points and seven assists compared to nine points and eight assists for Jason Kidd. Oh yeah, and the Mavs record is only two games better than the Nets as well. Mark Cuban has got to be kicking himself. He might tell you he is satisfied with the trade, but if the Mavs had Harris and Dirk they would be scary. In a good way.
20. Carlos Boozer has now missed 17 games for the Jazz this season and he is getting a third MRI done on his ailing left knee. If he comes back the Jazz can, and will, battle for the Western Conference crown. If he doesn't come back…ah…make a trade for Paul Milsap in your fantasy league.
19. Over the last seven days the Under hit in 58 percent of the games. That stat is a little misleading as there were four overtime games. Take those games out and the under was a cash cow as it was a winner in 63 percent of the games. As of a couple weeks ago, the split was pretty much 50-50. But if you break down the "waves", there was a serious (60 percent) 'under' wave through the first month of the year. That was followed by a regression and a lot of 'over' games. Now we're back into an 'under' wave.
18. There are only three teams in the NBA; Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Orlando; that are at least five games over .500 ATS. On the flip side of that there are six teams, Minnesota, Toronto, Washington, Golden State, Miami, and Philadelphia that are at least five games under .500 ATS.
17. Toronto has Chris Bosh, and Jermaine O'Neal in their starting five and they are the worst team in the league in rebounding margin at -6.07. That is what happens when you have two guys that would rather shoot a turnaround jump shot than dunk it in someone's face. Man I wish I was 6'10". That also explains why they are one of the biggest disappointments of the season. I guess they deserve it. Why you would trade for Jermaine O'Neal is beyond me.
16. A fitting postscript: Straight from the I Absolutely Love It When A Punk Bastard Gets A Taste Of Reality File, Stephon Marbury had to pay to see the Knicks/Lakers game. I am sure he was trying to make a point by doing so, but I don't see what it was. He sweats smugness.
15. Talk about efficiency. The New Orleans Hornets shoot 46 percent from the floor including over 40 percent from three-point range and 81 percent from the foul line. Yet, they do not average 100 points a game. They are currently averaging 96.5 points a game. If they begin to push the tempo just a little bit they will play the Celtics in the NBA Finals.
14. According to 82games.com, the best offensive five-man group is Denver's combination of Billups-Jones-Anthony-Balkman-Nene. They are +48 points per 48 minutes. By contrast, Cleveland's duo of Williams-West-James-Wallace-Ilgauskas has the greatest +/- of any fivesome in the NBA. But they are half as efficient as Denver's group despite playing together for 10 times as many minutes.
13. Zach Zarba is continuing to beat the total. He went 2-1 against the total last week to increase his overall record to 14-4. Mark Ayotte meanwhile has improved his ATS "homer" record to 14-6 on the season.
12. The Chicago Bulls are 3-0 against the total this year when Drew Gooden does not play. He is day-to-day with an ankle injury. The Bulls seem to pick up the pace offensively without their offensive post presence, but even more importantly they become considerably worse defensively without Gooden roaming the paint.
11. Monta Ellis is extremely close to returning for Golden State. This will take much of the pressure off Steven Jackson and Jamal Crawford as the point guard duties will be handed over to Ellis. The Warriors are currently 17-11 against the total this season and their offense should become even more potent with the addition of Ellis. However, be careful of overinflated totals and spread on the Warriors when he comes back.
10. After starting the season 1-4 ATS when favored by double digits the Celtics have now covered their last four double-digit lines. The 'over' is 8-2 in games that the Celtics are favored by double-digits, including a solid 'over' against Philly on Tuesday.
9. The Oklahoma City Thunder are 3-26 SU but are 17-12 ATS. The Thunder are also 11-3 ATS when they are a double-digit underdog. This team has some young players that won't quit regardless of the score, which comes in extremely handy late in games when they are down big. Each of the games that they were double-digit dogs ended in a SU loss for the Thunder.
8. Philadelphia's unit of Miller-Iguodala-Young-Brand-Dalembert is the ninth best defensive unit in the league, according to 82games.com, and they are one of only two units in the Top 15 in defensive efficiency that have played together for over 100 minutes on the season.
7. Golden State coach Don Nelson has relinquished his defensive coaching duties to assistant coach Keith Smart. He has decided that he isn't tough enough anymore and that Smart will provide the Warriors with that grit needed to improve their defense as they are the worst in the league. Keep an eye on this as Golden State may go on an 'under' run.
6. Home favorites are only covering 44.9 percent of their games.
5. The Minnesota Timberwolves went into an offensive funk when Mike Miller was out with an injured ankle. Miller is known for his sweet shooting stroke, but he also leads the team in assists and the Wolves offense seemed out of sync without him. Mr. Miller recently re-injured the ankle. Look for the Wolves to struggle again to score.
4. The Detroit Pistons have only scored over 96 points twice in their last 10 games, and only seven times in the 21 games since obtaining Allen Iverson. Joe Dumars must have been hitting the funny stuff when he decided to bring in Iverson to improve the Pistons offense. If he wanted to energize the fan base, he was successful - at first. But if he thought it would lead to more scoring he was sorely mistaken.
3. The Milwaukee Bucks have won five of their last six games and their smallest margin of victory has been 15 points, including 30-point victories in two of their last three games.
2. Elton Brand is out for a month for Philadelphia and that will make the 76ers change their style of play. This present Philly team is built to run and it looks like they will go back to that style of play without the post presence of Brand. Look for the total in Philly games to slowly increase over the coming weeks.
1. I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Profitable New Year!