NBA Betting and Handicapping: Scouting The Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 2/27/2012
How cramped has the first half of the 2011-12 NBA season been? It has been a little more than 11 weeks since the launch of training camps after the lockout. In any other year, the 11th week would find most teams having played 25 games of an 82-game schedule. This season, most clubs have played 35 games of their 66-game NBA schedule.
The NBA’s trading deadline is March 15 so look for the rumors to be flying hot and heavy. In a typical year, the trade deadline falls on the Thursday after the All-Star Game. Because of the lockout, though, this year’s trade deadline was pushed back, giving general managers 18 post-all-star days to ponder their moves
There already has been one report shot down that the L.A. Lakers will land Orlando’s Dwight Howard before the deadline in some sort of three-way trade that includes the Toronto Raptors as well – but the gist is that L.A. would have to give up both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The Boston Celtics could be very active with both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in the final years of their contracts and Boston seemingly going nowhere. It’s pretty clear that Rajon Rondo can be had as well – he could end up in L.A. in a swap for Gasol. If the Nets can’t trade for Howard, might they ship out Deron Williams rather than see him walk at the end of this season (to Dallas, no doubt)?
Games To Watch This Week
Speaking of Rondo, he returns from his two-game suspension on Tuesday night as the struggling Celtics visit Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers, who are 3.5-point home dogs. Boston was one of the worst ATS teams of the first half at 13-19 – only three other teams have more ATS losses. And two of those came to Cleveland.
The Celtics’ five-game losing streak is the longest since Allen and Garnett joined Paul Pierce in Beantown. Four of those five losses (0-5 ATS) have been by double-digits and the one that wasn’t was by nine. After Tuesday, Boston has five of its next six at home and the Celtics better do something in that stretch because then they go on an eight-game road trip.
Your worst ATS team of the first half, by the way, was easily the Washington Wizards at 10-23. They are in Milwaukee to open the second half Tuesday and are eight-point dogs.
The top ATS team of the first half? San Antonio at 20-13-1 with a co-league fewest four ATS losses at home (tied with, shockingly, Sacramento). And the Spurs are now home until after the trade deadline after their remarkable Rodeo Road Trip record of 8-1. They host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night in one of the week’s marquee matchups. Remember that San Antonio is without swingman Manu Ginobili and backup center Tiago Splitter for at least another week. Chicago, by the way, is tied with Denver for the most ATS road wins in the NBA at 13.
The Lakers appear to have avoided disaster in Sunday’s All-Star Game as Kobe Bryant sustained just a mild concussion and broken nose when Miami’s Dwyane Wade delivered a hard foul in the third quarter of the West's win. However, Kobe finished the game and plans on playing when the Lakers host the Timberwolves on Wednesday. He has to pass the NBA's concussion protocols before officially cleared. I would be a little leery of the Lakers in the second half. Of their 32 games remaining, 18 feature opponents at .500 or better. From there, eight of the 14 remaining games come on the road, where the Lakers are a losing squad (6-12 overall, 5-13 ATS).
The Jeremy Lin circus continues Wednesday as the Knicks open the second half by hosting the Cavaliers. But it’s Carmelo Anthony who needs watching. Anthony is averaging just 15 points per 36 minutes in the three games that he's been on the floor with Lin. The Knicks offense has scored a terrible 96.3 points per 100 possessions with Lin and Anthony taking the floor.
The Miami Heat should be plenty rested as they don’t take the court post-break until Thursday night’s TNT nightcap game in Portland. Look for a preview of that one here at Doc’s. The Blazers figure to be ripe for the picking as they have to play in the altitude in Denver the night before. Miami will be a solid favorite, probably 5.5 points or so. No team has it rougher out of the break than the Timberwolves, who play a back-to-back-to-back, with two games in L.A. (Clips on Tuesday before Lakers) and then going to Phoenix on Thursday.
Certainly the marquee matchup of the entire week comes Sunday afternoon when the Lakers host the Heat. Miami beat L.A. by 11 in South Florida back on Jan. 19 despite no Wade and an ill LeBron James. LeBron is 3-0 vs. Kobe’s Lakers since joining the Heat and 11-5 all-time vs. Kobe in his NBA career.
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