We are getting into the stretch drive of the NBA season. For a lot of teams this is when the desperation of their situation really sinks in, and things can really go off the rails. They know they are not good and that the season has not gone according to plan, and they start to let that depressing reality further erode their level of play. Their season is hopeless, and they just give up and accept it. That is no fun for the players and the fans, but for bettors it can lead to consistent and easy profits.
Here are four teams that are very likely to be solidly worse the rest of the way than they have been up until now. I don't know if it is sadder that two of the four teams are from the same division or that I could just as easily have picked two of the other three teams in that division to be on this list, too.
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Brooklyn Nets: To say that this team could get worse is really saying something - they are just 15-42 and already have the second worst record in the league. They could wind up looking back at these first 57 games of the season as the glory days, though. To signal their view of the rest of the season they have bought out Andrea Bargnani and are reportedly negotiating a buyout of Joe Johnson as well. That is a sign that they are looking towards next year - and trying to find any reason for hope for the future. It's not like Bargnani and Johnson were driving forces on this squad - Bargnani hadn't started a game and had generally underwhelmed, while Johnson is well below his prime levels of production. The guys in the locker room will know what is going on, though, and it certainly isn't going to help. To add to the insult here, the Nets don't even have their own first-round pick this year - they traded it to Boston as part of the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett deal.
New Orleans Pelicans: This is not how things were supposed to work out. Frustrated by the underachievement of the Monty Williams era, and by his lack of game management skills in key times, the team made a move and brought in offensive guru Alvin Gentry. Few could argue with the decision to change coaches - even though Williams is a very respected guy. The team just wasn't making the next step. Well, Gentry has helped the team make a big step - right off the edge of a cliff. It is hard to believe just how poorly things have gone. Gentry has shown that the biggest element of his offensive genius was just having Steve Nash on his former team. He is utilizing his players like he has never seen a basketball game before and making lineup decisions that are consistently baffling. They started off badly and haven't improved at all. It's ugly, and it is hard to believe that Gentry will get another year at the helm. The roster seems likely to be headed for a summer overhaul, too. So, add frustrated players, a lame-duck coach, a lost season, and organizational uncertainty together and you have a team that could easily fall to truly ugly depths down the stretch.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns have lost their last 12 games, so I'm not exactly going out on a limb with this team. They won 14 games before the skid, though, so there was some potential - but they have absolutely no chance of returning to respectability down the stretch. They made a coaching change that has been a total disaster. The roster is somewhat talented in spots but is very young and completely lacking in direction, focus, or confidence. Tyson Chandler has been banged up and has missed time, yet injuries could force him into a lot of minutes coming up. They play the majority of their remaining games on the road - where they are just 4-23 compared to 10-20 at home. It is going to be a rough trip back to the stable for these guys this year. Jeff Hornacek did a mostly lousy job coaching this team, but the rest of this season could make fans long for the good old days when he was still in charge.
Sacramento Kings: The Kings actually won three in a row earlier this week but have still only won four of their last 13. They wind up on this list, though, for one reason above all others - they are the Kings. That means that craziness is just expected - especially under this regime. Insanity is just a steady state around this organization. They told everyone they were going to fire George Karl at some point soon, then they didn't, but they still might at some point - or not. They just fired an assistant coach this week instead. They talked about trading pretty much the whole roster leading up to the trade deadline, then they did nothing. They are looking at overhauling the front office yet again. They just can't get out of their own way. It's another lost season - one that was entirely predictable to everyone except, it seems, them. It seems like a safe bet that that reality will cause them to do something crazy down the stretch, and that that will have a negative impact on their already underwhelming performance.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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