Playing the NBA Stock Market: Buy or Sell
by Josh Nagel - 03/23/2009
Around this time of the year in the NBA, you can count on teams that have something to play for. Some are looking to protect their playoff position or move up to grab one, while others are looking to round their game into playoff-ready form. Clubs that fit this profile can be profitable during this stretch run.
Of course, there are others that are far out of the picture and are just biding their time until the June NBA Draft. They are playing scrubs and rookies without much regard to how many hits they take in the loss column, so long as it results in more Ping Pong balls in the bowl come draft day.
Here is a look at a few teams from both categories in this week's Buy or Sell:
Dallas Mavericks - The Mavericks have slogged through much of this season under new coach Rick Carlisle without one of the patented surges we're used to seeing from this club. Part of this can be attributed to their new defensive-oriented style but some it can be chalked up to underachieving.
Even so, the Mavs might have no choice but to end their season on a strong note. Failure to do so could result in them missing the playoffs; they'd also like to get out of the No. 8 spot and avoid a first-round series against the Lakers. Their upcoming slate includes home games against Golden State and Denver, and road games against Cleveland and Minnesota. It would be surprising if Dallas didn't bring home the money in at least three of these.
Phoenix Suns - Phoenix is similarly motivated and, despite being a long shot to reach the postseason, this is a team whose leader, Steve Nash, truly believes can cause some damage if they somehow squeeze into the postseason.
What's more, the Suns should be motivated, more than anything, by the fact that they have played so poorly to put themselves in this position. They have some momentum with four straight wins and cashes, and home games this week against Denver and Utah are pretty much must-win situations and games you have to like for a team in the position of Phoenix.
Oklahoma City Thunder - One of the league's most profitable teams for the season at 42-26-1 ATS, the Thunder have seen a drop in the cash lately, with just three cashes in their past seven games. Normally, you would not see upcoming games against the likes of the Lakers, Celtics and Spurs as good news for a team like this, but for the Thunder, it might be just that. Oklahoma City has done its best cash-making work this season against big numbers; the Thunder are bound to get some more in their next few games.
Milwaukee Bucks - The Bucks started the year as a pleasant surprise, both on the court and at the cashier's cage, but their glow has faded. Mostly due to crippling injuries, they are no longer the competitive force they had been striving to become. Recently, poor guard play in the absence of Michael Redd has been a specific weakness. The Bucks are just 3-7 overall and 2-8 ATS in their last 10, and they are looking at a four-game road swing.
New York Knicks - Although the Knicks have made a reasonable run at respectability this year, they simply don't have the personnel or style of play conducive of a legitimate contender just yet. They have lost four straight and have upcoming home games against the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets, two teams with more talent and more to play for.
Atlanta Hawks - Yes, it would seem odd to recommend fading the NBA's hottest team; the Hawks have cashed in eight straight and had won seven in a row before Saturday's loss to the Cavaliers. But this is more a warning of pre-emptive fade than anything. Although Atlanta's run has been impressive, it faces upcoming home games against the Spurs, Celtics and Lakers. Over the past couple of seasons, the Hawks have consistently struggled to get over the top against the league's elite teams. It wouldn't come as a shock if they were to lose all three games.