Around the NBA in 24 Seconds
by Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinclair - 02/03/2009
The Phoenix Suns are facing a potentially major shakeup…and boy do they need it.
At 16-28-1 against the spread the Suns have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this season. They brought in a new coach (Terry Porter), a new shooting guard (Jason Richardson) and were excited about having Shaquille O'Neal for an entire season. But the results have been pretty ugly for Suns backers and Phoenix brass is disappointed with the 26-20 start this crew has managed. Phoenix has been at the heart of at least a half-dozen trade rumors over the last month and I would be stunned if they didn't make a move before this month's trade deadline.
But even if Phoenix doesn't make a "major" shakeup I am still seeing signs of change with this team.
Arizona Republic reporter Paul Coro published a piece on Monday discussing several "closed-door" meetings between players, coaches, and top brass in the organization. Reportedly, Steve Nash and Grant Hill, General Manager Steve Kerr, and Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver had a private meeting Saturday night after an ugly 122-111 home loss to the Bulls. Coro then said that Nash, Hill, Porter and the rest of the players had a team meeting to 'air out differences' on Sunday.
I'm not sure what was said or if it will have any long-term ramifications, but the Suns looked like a team on a mission on a mission Monday night in an absolutely dominating 129-81 win over Sacramento. Phoenix actually led 105-57 at the end of the third quarter and this one was never in doubt.
One noticeable difference is clearly the play of Shaq, who has declared himself healthy. The Suns seem to be making a concerted effort to run the offense through the big man and he has responded with three straight double-digit scoring nights (his third-longest streak of the year) and six assists. More touches for Shaq means less for Nash, Amare Stoudamire, et. al and has not proven successful just yet. But it will be interesting to see of any trades that they make are done to support a Shaq-centric offense and defense or a move to support the Nash-Amare contingent.
I have a feeling that the Suns will go in the direction of Amare as he is the type of player they will want to build around after the offseason circus of 2010. And if they decide to make Amare their foundation that means bye-bye Shaq, maybe he will name himself the Big Arevaderche.
Here is this week's version of Around The NBA In 24 Seconds:
24. Jameer Nelson has been having a huge year for the Orlando Magic leading them to one of the best overall records in the NBA. But the Magic point guard appeared to dislocate his shoulder against the Mavs on Monday night and he didn't return to the game. If Nelson is out for an extended period of time the Magic could be in some trouble as Jameer is really the engine that makes this team run.
23. Out of the 15 teams in the Western Conference 11 have winning records versus the total, including the entire Pacific Division. It's still plenty wild out West.
22. The Boston Celtics and the "Big Three" are back. The Celtics have won 11 straight games and are looking like they are well on their way to potential back-to-back championships. Not only are the C's winning games SU they are also 9-2 ATS in their last 11 contests. The Celtics are currently the No. 1 team in the East and I expect a spirited effort from them to lock up home court advantage.
21. Allen Iverson needs to start coming off the bench for the Detroit Pistons. Iverson has always been a "me-first" type player and he needs to be the focal point of an offense. That is when he thrives: when he is surrounded by role players that are tailored to his game.
Playing in Detroit this cannot be the case unless they start playing him with their second team. He would be the main scoring option for that unit and he would be playing against the opponent's second team. I think that would be a great situation and I think Iverson could tear up most teams' second units. Detroit needs to move Rip Hamilton back into the starting lineup and send AI to the bench.
20. The home team has covered the spread in 22 of 32 games that Phil Robinson has officiated.
19. Great news Cleveland fans: Delonte West is ahead of schedule. This not only helps the Cavs faithful but it helps Cavs backers as well. Since West's injury the Cavs are just 5-4 ATS. For most teams a 5-4 mark would be solid basketball but not for the Cavs, who were 26-11 ATS before the injury.
18. The New York Knicks are 7-1 ATS in their last seven games and they have moved to within a game of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. That was the good news. The bad news is that after taking a nine-point beating by the Lake Show on Monday they have games with the Celtics and Cavs on deck. Ouch.
17. The Utah Jazz are falling apart at the seams. Carlos Boozer is still out, AK-47 is out, Deron Williams is now hurt again and the Jazz are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games overall. At least Utah has the HBO Original Series "Big Love" to brag about.
16.Weekly Syracuse Update: The Orange are struggling as of late with their play and with their health. Andy Rautins hurt his ankle and AO hurt his knee, but both are rumored to be back this week. And not a moment too soon. They have dropped from eighth to 20th in the rankings and they have another tough four-game stretch ahead of them that includes a trip to No. 1 Connecticut.
15.The Dallas Mavericks are starting to play some good basketball. The Mavs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games including convincing victories at Detroit, Miami, and a blowout win over Orlando. As of Tuesday Dallas is only three games out of the third spot in the West.
14. Prior to losing their last two games by double digits the Charlotte Bobcats had covered seven of their last eight games. Looking ahead the Cats better hope their play improves again as six of their next nine games are against teams that are currently in the playoff field.
13. Over the last seven days home underdogs are just 2-12 ATS. That is an extremely poor 14 percent winning clip. Oh, but there is always a silver lining, that means road favorites are covering the spread 84 percent of the time. This is a reversal of a solid couple months of underdog domination.
12. Last week provided us with some high scoring games as 60 percent of the games went 'over' the total. This pushes the 'over' into the lead as 351 games have gone over the total compared to 350 games falling under.
Again, a tip of the cap to the oddsmakers. But as amazing as they are - and a 50/50 split on 700 games is outstanding - the totals still go in waves. Right now the 'over' is cresting, and that will likely carry on for a bit longer. But then you can almost guarantee a two-weeks spell in which the 'under' hits around 60 percent. It's all ebbs and flows and that's the key to totals betting in the NBA.
11. Andrew Bynum is out for 8-12 weeks for the L.A. Lakers and the men from Hollywood are now in the same situation as last year. Look for Pau Gasol to move over to the center spot and for Lamar Odom to move back into the starting lineup. L.A. has plenty of talent and firepower left to remain in the top spot in the West but a thin frontcourt may come back to haunt them again in the playoffs.
10. The New Orleans Hornets led 72-55 Monday night versus Portland and then Chris Paul had to leave the game with a strained groin injury. Following the injury the Blazers closed the game on a 42-17 run. If Paul is out for an extended period of time the Hornets are in big, big trouble. And his injury comes while they are still playing without Tyson Chandler and just after getting David West back off the mend.
9. A weird trend has developed in the NBA: Don't wager on a second-place team. Not a single second-place team in the NBA has an ATS record of more than two games over .500. Second place teams are 38 games over .500 SU but 24 games under .500 ATS.
8. Since Dec. 23 the Minnesota Timberwolves are 14-5-1 ATS. Prior to that the Wolves were just 9-17 ATS. They have slowed down just a touch, but they are still playing some of the best ball around.
Keeping with the Wolves, take note when you find them with a good line on the road. Minnesota has been a value on the road as they are 16-7 ATS away from home this year. That tells me that Kevin McHale has them giving max effort and playing dedicated defense on the road.
7. Things started out so well for the Toronto Raptors. They made some solid offseason moves and were 3-0 to start the year. Then reality set in and karma came and sat on their bench right between coach Sam Mitchell and injured offseason acquisition Jermaine O'Neal. Since that time the Raptors have fired Mitchell and they are just 16-30 SU and 17-27-2 ATS.
6. Monta Ellis is back and now forms a solid back court in Golden State with Jamal Crawford. The Warriors should be a team to find value in the second half of the season as they have an uptempo squad that should be able to match most teams in the league point-for-point. The Warriors have always been a solid dog when playing against some of the best teams in the NBA, and their near-miss in overtime against San Antonio shows me that they are on the cusp of a run.
5. The Indiana Pacers might want to consider not playing with Marquis Daniels more often as they are 6-3 ATS and 7-2 against the total without his services.
4. The Milwaukee Bucks were playing extremely well early in the year without Michael Redd as they were 12-5-1 ATS. Currently they are 2-2 ATS with losses in their first two games without him. Look for the Bucks to regroup and hit their stride again.
3. Make sure you save some of your winnings for this Sunday. Now that football is over the NBA will take center stage and this Sunday we have two big games to quench your thirst. The Boston Celtics welcome the San Antonio Spurs at 1 p.m. and at 3:30 we will be treated to LeBron versus Kobe part II.
2. The MVP race is on. Will Kobe win his second in a row or will King James break into the ranks of the NBA's elite? That isn't the most important MVP though. The most important MVP is the guy that wins the most money for their backers, and thus far, you have gotta give the nod to Mo Williams or Dwight Howard. These two are on teams that are a combined 62-29 ATS. Cleveland wasn't this dominant prior to Williams so I give it to him over LeBron. Keep in mind, I am not saying Williams is better than LeBron, he has just done more for my pockets. Let the debates begin.
1. Check back next week for more Around The NBA In 24 Seconds.