NBA Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 1/21/2014
Could this be the week that the New York Knicks finally do what seems inevitable and fire Coach Mike Woodson? I would have to think the Knicks are approaching the last straw with Woodson.
They have lost four straight games (0-4 ATS) entering Wednesday's home matchup with Philadelphia. All four have been by double figures, and the Knicks were flat-out embarrassed by the Pacers, Clippers and Nets. Following Monday's 23-point loss to rival Brooklyn, Tyson Chandler seemed to call out his coach, saying the Knicks were "outschemed" by a rookie coach in Brooklyn's Jason Kidd, who himself was on the hot seat for a while. Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks "didn't even fight" against the Nets. Then there's the whole J.R. Smith mess -- shoot, even seldom-used backup guard Beno Udrih just requested a trade.
It's really now or never for New York (15-26) to salvage its season. The Knicks are tied for 10th in the East but just two games out of the No. 8 spot. They are 5.5 games behind first-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division. New York is +600 on Sportsbook..ag to win that, with the Nets now -160 favorites. The Clippers loss started a season-high eight-game homestand. The next five are all against lousy teams: the Sixers, Bobcats, Lakers, Celtics and Cavaliers before closing against Miami the day before the Super Bowl. And perhaps the fact that the New York area is hosting the Super Bowl might speed up the firing of Woodson. If it happened sometime next week, it would be totally overshadowed in the media.
Motor City Makeover?
Another team that looks rather dysfunctional right now is Detroit. The Pistons are example No. 1 of why you can't build a team from a fantasy perspective. I mean, the Pistons have some envious frontcourt talent in Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and especially Andre Drummond as well as two guys who can light it up at times in the backcourt in Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey.
The problem is that most of these guys are selfish and simply care about getting their own shots, especially Jennings, who is shooting a gruesome .369 from the field, and Smith (.411). Those two also combine to turn it over nearly six times per game. Smith actually had the audacity to say the team needs to share more after Monday's 112-103 loss to the Clippers in which Jennings managed to go scoreless. Detroit is a solid 10-10 (10-9-1 ATS) on the road but a wretched 7-14 at home (same ATS record), losing eight of its past nine at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The team clearly shouldn't have given Smith that $54 million contract this offseason as he doesn't fit at small forward. He's all but untradeable, so the Pistons may have to dump the talented Monroe, a restricted free-agent-to-be, before the February trade deadline. GM Joe Dumars is unlikely to survive another playoff-free season. Detroit is a 5.5-point favorite at Milwaukee on Wednesday and finishes the week at home Friday against New Orleans and at Dallas on Sunday. The Bucks have already given up on the season and essentially given up on big offseason free-agent signing O.J. Mayo, who is barely playing these days and has been scoreless in two of his past three. Still, I wouldn't put it past the Pistons to lose that one.
Bet Against Bobcats
Probably the biggest injury news in the NBA in the past few days was the severely sprained ankle suffered by Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker that is likely to keep him out two weeks. Walker has turned into an all-star-caliber player, averaging 18.7 points, 5.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds. The only other players averaging at least 18/5/4? Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, James Harden, John Wall and Russell Westbrook.
Charlotte is a terrible offensive team with Walker and potentially the worst in the NBA without him. The Bobcats score just 92.5 points per 100 possessions when Walker is on the sideline, which would be last in the NBA as a team. They are also excellent at not turning the ball over when Walker is on the court and one of the worst at giving it away when he's not.
Charlotte did beat Toronto 100-95 on Monday without Walker as backup Ramon Sessions filled in nicely with 23 points, five assists and four boards. I don't read too much into that as it was the second of a back-to-back for the Raptors, and for some reason the Bobcats have owned them over the past few years. I fully expect Charlotte to lose Wednesday at home as a five-point underdog to the Clippers as well as Friday at the Knicks and Saturday at home to Chicago. Hit the “under” heavily on all three as well. Sessions won't keep that production up, and now teams are more able to double-team Charlotte's other top offensive option, center Al Jefferson.
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