NBA Basketball Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 2/25/2014
Brazilian big man Nene isn't the biggest star on the Washington Wizards. That would be John Wall. Nene isn't even No. 2 -- that would be Bradley Beal. But the statistics show that Nene is as important to Washington as anyone, and now the Wizards' playoff hopes could be in serious jeopardy with Nene out six weeks.
The Wizards franchise hasn't played extra basketball since the 2006-07 season back when Gilbert Arenas was still one of the premier scorers in the NBA. It's pretty much postseason or bust this year for Coach Randy Wittman, especially when Washington gave up a first-round pick on the eve of the season for Phoenix center Marcin Gortat, who will be a free agent after this year. The good news is that Washington enters Tuesday's action at 28-28 and fifth in the East. It is 5.5 games ahead of No. 9 Detroit and 6.5 ahead of No. 5 Cleveland. Those teams probably aren't good enough to make up that much ground with so few games remaining.
However, it's possible the Wizards go in the tank without Nene. On the bright side, the team got pretty good news from an MRI on Monday in that Nene will miss only six weeks with a sprained MCL instead of facing 8-12 months of rehab with a torn ACL. That means best-case scenario he's back for the final few games of the regular season. This season when Nene starts the Wizards are 21-16. They are 1-6 when he doesn't play and 8-34 overall without him since acquiring Nene from Denver. Nene is averaging 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 30.1 minutes.
Washington isn't exactly deep in big men, especially after trading former first-round bust Jan Vesely in the Andre Miller deal with the Nuggets. Gortat is going to play a ton of minutes now as will guys like Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Al Harrington. Perhaps the Wizards will get lucky and some team will buy out a serviceable big guy that Washington can use -- much like the Clippers got former Magic player Glen Davis. The Wizards are on a three-game winning streak and probably won't lose Tuesday night against a Magic team that has lost 15 straight road games, but I could see the depressed Wizards falling in Toronto on Thursday and struggling in Philly on Saturday.
Speaking of those 76ers, it appears they have all but given up on the season following the trades of Evan Turner (who debuts for Indiana on Tuesday night) and Spencer Hawes. Somehow Philadelphia allowed the NBA's worst team, the Milwaukee Bucks, to score 130 points (they were averaging 92.6) and win in the City of Brotherly Love by 20 points on Monday night. It was Philly's 11th straight loss overall (3-8 ATS) and 10th straight at home. The Bucks had yet to win a road game in 2014. They won't be winning back-to-back games for the first time all year with a visit to Indiana on Thursday up next.
Milwaukee still has a three-game "edge" over Philadelphia for the most ping-pong balls in the draft lottery but the Sixers have the worst ATS overall record at 22-35 and by far worst at home (8-21). Philadelphia closes the week Wednesday vs. Orlando, Saturday vs. Washington and Sunday at Orlando. About as easy a week as a team can ask for. If the Sixers don't win one of those, we could be looking at a skid reaching 20.
Don't expect things to get much better in Philly, either (not saying the Sixers will beat Washington on Saturday but cover). Danny Granger is almost guaranteed to never play for the team after being acquired in the Turner deal. He will be bought out and free to sign with a contender -- Washington perhaps? Phoenix? More likely it will be someone like Miami as Granger now wants to stick it to the Pacers (he's not allowed to re-sign there this season) for sending him away. He must be released and signed by a team by Saturday to be eligible for a postseason roster. The only reason the Sixers might not want to do it is to keep Granger's Bird rights for a possible trade this offseason. Granger is the best of the guys who have been bought out thus far or might be with Davis landing in L.A., which was a great get for the Clippers.
More Trouble For Knicks
The NBA doesn't have a strict off-court suspension policy like the NFL does, but Knicks point guard Raymond Felton could be facing discipline after he was arrested on gun charges early Tuesday morning, two charges of which are felonies. Why anyone carries a gun in New York is beyond me as that state has incredibly tough laws -- just ask Plaxico Burress.
This might be the perfect situation for new NBA commissioner Adam Silver to show he's going to crack down more than predecessor David Stern did. I obviously don't know what's in the CBA with players on what Silver can or can't do, and perhaps the legal system has to play itself out. Maybe the Knicks themselves suspend Felton for a while, but this is the last thing the team needs. Despite 44 points from Carmelo Anthony on Monday night, the Knicks lost at home to Dallas on Dirk Nowitzki's buzzer-beater; Felton had eight points and seven assists. It was New York’s third straight loss (1-2 ATS) and ninth in the past 11. It is a season-high 15 games under .500, and the playoffs clearly aren't going to happen. Mike Woodson will be fired after the season, mark it down, and I'd be shocked if Carmelo sticks around for this mess.
New York's schedule gets no easier the rest of the week with a visit to Miami on Thursday, vs. Golden State on Friday and at Chicago on Sunday, all on national television.
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