NBA Betting and Handicapping: Scouting The Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 3/5/2012
First off, I want to give myself props here for essentially calling that Miami Heat loss in Utah on Friday night after the Heat had won nine straight games, all by at least 12 points (it was in the Heat-Blazers TNT Thursday preview).
OK, with that aside, it’s the final full week of NBA action before next Thursday’s trade deadline and there was a major injury that could affect the biggest potential blockbuster before March 15. New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez will miss at least the next three weeks with a sprained right ankle. The 23-year-old suffered the injury in the third quarter of Sunday night's game in Charlotte and did not return.
It’s no secret that Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard wants to play in New Jersey with buddy Deron Williams, but certainly any package the Nets would offer would be centered around Lopez (and multiple draft picks). Now the Magic have to be even more leery of making this deal as it’s the second major injury of the season for Lopez. He had just returned from a broken right foot injury that caused him to miss 33 of the Nets' first 34 games. You don’t want to count on a big man who has a history of foot/ankle injuries – just ask the Portland Trail Blazers regarding Greg Oden. (Lopez’s injury being to the same foot he injured earlier)
From a betting perspective, obviously this crushes the Nets. Lopez is averaging 19.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 27.2 minutes in five games. New Jersey has to travel to an ornery Heat team on Tuesday night after Miami followed that Utah loss by falling at the L.A. Lakers on Sunday. New Jersey actually has been solid ATS on the road (12-10) but not at home (4-12).
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a team to bet against right now – make it Portland. Entering Monday’s game vs. New Orleans, the Blazers had lost three in a row and have a losing record for the first time since 2008. After the Hornets’ visit, Portland heads out on a seven-game road trip and will be favored likely only at Washington on Saturday (Blazers are 6-11 ATS on road).
Rumors are the Blazers are about to commence a fire sale as everyone but LaMarcus Aldridge is available. Unfortunately, the team doesn’t have a general manager to make these decisions. Point guard Raymond Felton is almost certainly a goner – probably to the Lakers. And Jamal Crawford also likely will be dealt. It just sounds like one of those toxic situations that will see the team quit on many nights.
On the opposite side, a team ready to take off might be Memphis. That’s because star power forward Zach Randolph participated in contact drills Monday for the first time since he suffered a slight MCL tear in a Jan. 1 game. The Grizz aren’t giving an official timetable for Randolph’s return but he will travel with the club when it begins a three-game road trip Wednesday at the Golden State Warriors. Without Randolph, who was averaging 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, the Grizzlies have gone a strong 21-12. Memphis has won four straight (3-1 ATS), three by double digits, and I love the Grizzlies at the Warriors on Wednesday and then Saturday night in Phoenix.
My trap game special this week definitely comes Tuesday night when the Lakers, riding high off that Heat win, take the court in Detroit as five-point favorites. The Lakers are only 5-13 ATS on the road as it is and play five of their next six away from Staples Center. Detroit, which has dropped three of four, will have been off since Saturday and will enjoy a rare sellout crowd. That is probably my pick of the week.
Look for a TNT preview for Thursday’s Magic-Bulls game here at Doc’s as Orlando visits the Windy City for the first and only time this season. Chicago blew out the Magic in O-Town back in early January. I’m also curious to find out if the Indiana Pacers are a legitimate playoff threat. We should know by Sunday night. The Pacers have a wicked schedule this week. After visiting the Bulls on Monday, they then host Atlanta on Tuesday (Hawks likely without Joe Johnson) before going to Miami on Saturday night and then Orlando on Sunday. In fact, Indiana faces playoff-caliber teams until March 22 at Washington. The Pacers entered Monday on a six-game winning streak (4-2 ATS) but were beating up on NBA bottom-feeders.
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