Checking In On The NBA

  • I was very interested to see the Lakers play tonight. They were playing in Boston against a Celtics’ team that hadn’t lost in 12 games, and which clearly had L.A.’s number in the playoffs last year. It was also potentially going to be a real problem for theLakers to face a team that good without Andrew Bynum. The team has had lots of practice playing without Bynum, but he’d been playing so well recently that he could be missed. The bookmakers didn’t like the Lakers’ chances – they were seven point underdogs, which is significantly more than the home court advantage. As it turned out, the Lakers didn’t need any points at all. They were down by four after three quarters, but they got them all back in regulation time, and then won it in overtime. What was most impressive about the performance was how they made up for the loss ofBynum. Both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom stepped their game up significantly, giving the Lakers three players with 20 points or better. They still miss out on what a true center like Bynum can bring to the team, but this was a pretty solid showing, and a very good sign for the Lakers. They have separated themselves as the class of the West, and they are making a good argument that they might be the class of the whole league. Sunday’s game at Cleveland is going to be particularly interesting. A win there would be huge for L.A.
  • Speaking of the Cavs, it is amazing how good both they are the Magic have been against the spread. The Cavs are 32-16 ATS, while Orlando is just a touch better at 32-15-1 ATS. That’s 66.7 percent for the Cavs and even better for Orlando. That’s a whole lot of profit for loyal bettors. It’s amazing how easy those two teams have made it for bettors – they are the best team in virtually every game they play, and they play like it. I respect that more than a team like San Antonio that is almost never any good against the spread even when they win regularly.I know for sure that I like Cleveland better than Boston in the playoffs, and I might even like Orlando better, too. Or at least I did with Jameer Nelson running the point. Tyronn Lue doesn’t give me the same feeling of confidence.
  • The other two standout ATS teams in the league are far less predictable – Oklahoma City and the Knicks. The Knicks aren’t very good, and the Thunder are truly awful, yet both teams consistently cover enough spreads to deliver a nice profit to their backers. So do Milwaukee and Charlotte, two more underwhelming teams. It’s all proves that you don’t have to be good to be a good team.
  • I am a Larry Brown guy. I don’t always respect his professional choices – I wish he’d just stuck with one team and seen what he could do. I think he’d have a fair bit of hardware by now if he had done that. Stilll, I am not convinced that there are more than a couple of guys – Phil Jackson and maybe Gregg Popovich – who are in the same class as Brown when it comes to knowing the game and how to handle players. All that being said, I am impressed by what Brown is doing in Charlotte. He’s winning about as many games as he should be, but they are playing tough and tight most games, as their ATS record indicates. I especially like that they are profitable ATS both at home and on the road. That’s a sign of a tough team. If Brown can keep his happy feet from dancing out of town for a couple of years then he’s going to get this team nicely turned around.
  • The Sixers are just 24-24, and now they have to spend the rest of the season playing without Elton Brand. This certainly isn’t how this was supposed to work out. I had high hopes for both them and the Raptors in the Atlantic division. Oops.
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  1. Interesting because the 76ers have played well WITHOUT Elton Brand in the lineup and have struggled when he was playing.

    Is it me, or does anyone else wonder if Brand is truly a franchise-type power forward. I mean, if you look at his track record, he hasn’t played on any winning teams except for the Clippers that one year and that’s it.

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