Around the NBA in 24 Seconds
by Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinclair - 03/23/2009
April 18, the opening day of the NBA playoffs, is approaching faster than we know it. For some NBA teams this last push to the postseason is the time of year where they rest starters, get their players healthy, and tune up any little problems they may have for Money Time in the playoffs. For others it's time to scrap and claw for either a more favorable seed or a home series in the opening round or for that last slot in the postseason field.
And then there are the bottom feeders. These are the teams that have no long-term postseason dreams and they generally split into two categories - those that embrace the role of the spoiler and those that simply mail it in. The spoilers know that their season is ending but they refuse to give up and they will play hard until the final buzzer sounds. The last group is the teams that have just completely given up and are already looking forward to a summer full of felonies and frolicking. This last group is comprised of the teams night in and night out that are faced with double-digit lines and they seem to lose by 30 every other game.
As a gambler you need to decipher which teams are which. And you have to know when to take the playoff-bound teams and when to play against the teams that are just picking up a paycheck.
Teams like the Celtics, Lakers, Cavs and Magic will rest their starters when need be, which includes not playing some of their banged up stars on back-to-back nights. The Knicks, Pacers, and Nets are all on the outside of the playoffs looking in, but a bettor can't count them out and should certainly take note as they will be included in that spoiler group.
In the West you have got to take a very close look at the playoff race as only a few games separate second and eighth. Since everyone is "live" there are very few instances where you can heavily factor "motivation" into your handicapping.
As far as the "bums" of the NBA, look no further than the Wizards and Raptors. These two teams are absolutely terrible and when matched up against the best they don't stand a chance. If you see them matched up with some of the lesser teams in each conference don't hesitate to give them some points and enjoy watching the rout.
As the playoffs near it is my pleasure to give you, Around the NBA in 24 Seconds.
24. Patrick Ewing wants a shot to run his own team and it has gotten to the point of begging. To be completely honest I think he deserves a shot. Ewing has been the assistant to some solid NBA coaches and he has had a major influence on the development of Dwight Howard. Give him a shot; he can't be any worse than Isaiah Thomas.
23. The Atlanta Hawks are on fire. Atlanta got bad news when they heard that Marvin Williams had a back injury and that he would miss significant time. However, the Hawks have responded by winning seven of eight and by covering seven straight. Williams hopes to return by season's end.
22. The Jamal Crawford Escapade in Golden State continues to grow but the Warriors have done a solid job in his absence. On the season the Warriors are 4-1 ATS without him and Nelson has made it known that Crawford is not part of the team's future plans. As this season plays out look for Jamal to sit more and more. Don't hesitate to take some points when he sits as Golden State continues to find cohesion and success.
21. The Milwaukee Bucks were a first-half dandy as they were top four in the NBA in ATS record. That ship has sailed as the Bucks now sit at just 36-33-2 ATS. The old adage of "Bucks for bucks" doesn't seem to work anymore.
20. If you like wagering on any Western Conference team you should look no further than the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder is the only team in the West that is better than three games over .500 against the spread.
19. On the Yahoo NBA page they have a link where you can vote for this season's MVP. Dwyane Wade is currently in third behind Kobe and LeBron. This would be an injustice for Wade to lose out on this race. I know that it isn't the true vote for the award but still, just go and vote for D-Wade!
18. Kevin Garnett is back for the Celtics in a limited role. This past week Garnett got some action in two different games as coach Doc Rivers is easing him back into the rotation. Once KG gets back in game shape the Celtics will get serious heading into the playoffs. When completely healthy I think this is the best team in the league. And without him the C's were a feeble 4-10 ATS, including a 1-10 ATS debacle.
17. At the halfway point in the season the Indiana Pacers were by far and away the best 'over' play in the NBA. The oddsmakers have caught up, just as we thought, and now Indiana is just 37-32-1 against the total, good for the third-best record against the total in their division alone.
16. Over the last seven days the away dogs have covered the lines in 22 of 34 games, which is good for a 65-percent success rate.
15.The Cleveland Cavaliers tied an NBA record in their 97-92 overtime victory versus the Portland Trailblazers. Cleveland only committed two turnovers, which included one in the final seconds of the game. The Cavs tied the Milwaukee Bucks for fewest turnovers in one game. Interesting enough, Mo Williams was the starting point guard for that Bucks team as well.
14. Over the last nine games the Chicago Bulls have done their best to make money for their faithful. Chicago is 7-2 ATS in their last nine contests, including 3-1 against the spread on the road. During this streak the Bulls have played six teams that are currently in the playoffs.
13. The 'under' has been the good play as of late. Over the last seven days the 'under' is 25-21. The only reason it is that close is because of three overtime games. If those games hadn't gone to overtime you are looking at a 'under' record of 28-18, which is a .610 winning percentage.
12. The Phoenix Suns are doing their best to make the playoffs. The Suns have won four in a row both SU and ATS following a 0-6 straight up and 1-5 against the spread run.
11. The new rage in the NBA is the Twitter. Charlie Villanueva was reprimanded by his coach for sending out "tweets" at halftime of their game versus the Celtics. Are you kidding me…he was twittering during HALFTIME?!?!? Wow!
10. I was definitely one to question having women officiate games in the NBA but Violet Palmer has helped NBA fans win money this season. Violet is 4-1 against the total when it is 184.5 or less and 9-4 when the total is 205 points or higher.
9. The Portland Trailblazers are known for being an impressive home ball club, but as of late they are showing they can play on the road. Portland has won three of four on the road and covered all four games. If you take a closer look at this run however you will see that the only good team they played was Cleveland. They lost that game but still covered.
8. Allen Iverson is on the comeback path as two days of tests on his back revealed no significant damage. The Pistons hope Iverson can get back on the court on Monday and work on his wind. The Detroit brass has yet to release a specific return date for AI. The Pistons have covered nine of their last 12 without Iverson.
7. Don't look now but the Charlotte Bobcats are only a game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bobcats have been a solid bet all season and they should continue to be down the stretch. They have been on a 9-4 ATS roll recently.
6. On the year the home dogs are an incredible 162-162-4 ATS. Oddsmakers have earned their money this year. Yet, if you have gone with teams like the Bobcats and Thunder you have done just fine.
5. "Thou shalt play defense!" That will be the motto of the defensive ball clubs late in the season as the playoff picture continues to develop. Look for the Spurs, Rockets, Celtics, and Hornets to slow down offensively and clamp down defensively these last few weeks. That should tighten up their ATS records since they are often laying points, and look for some 'under' rushes as well.
4. Shaquille O'Neal moved past Moses Malone into fifth all-time on the NBA scoring list. Shaq has now scored 27, 411 points. In my opinion he is the best center of all-time. Let the debate begin.
3. The Southeast Division has been a cash cow for their backers thus far. The Hawks, Magic, and Bobcats are all at least 10 games over .500 ATS. The Magic are an NBA best 44-24-1 after the spread.
2. Weekly Syracuse Orange Update: The Orange are in the Sweet 16 after defeating both Steven F. Austin and Arizona State. Both games ended in double-digit victories for the Orange and they covered the line in each game. Up next: Blake Griffin and Oklahoma.
1. Check back next week for more Around the NBA in 24 Seconds.