Posted Thursday, December 27, 2012 07:09 PM
Several weeks ago, we wrote that we'd be laying off the Lakers and Celtics until injured players returned and these veteran teams began to gel.
("NBA Minus, Plus, and About to Change," December 9, here: http://spaces.covers.com/blog/gfoss59/NBA/12092012-NBA-plus-minus-and-about-to-change.html).
We were also looking for either the coaches, or veteran leaders, or both, to issue a little bit of a kick of a pants into the rear ends of players like Dwight Howard, and even Rajon Rondo (little bit of a matador on defense this year) -- a cri de couer to "play like your hair's on fire."
Well, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are back; Avery Bradley isn't; and Kobie Bryant, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, and Mike D'Antoni have all placed their feet in the desired location to rally the laggards on their respective teams.
Accordingly, we dipped a toe in the water and took the Lakers against Golden State, though not against the Knicks, last week -- and the Celtics against the Nets.
But is it safe to make a systematic ATS bet on either team in the coming weeks?
In a word, no, though we generally like each team to out-perform expectations heading into January. In other words, we're looking for reasons not to back them in any given game.
The Celtics-Nets game was a no-brainer. Boston was motivated by the Rondo-Humphries mini-brawl in their last meeting, and Brooklyn's general uppity-ness and physicality in recent meetings. Plus they ... [More]
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 05:15 PM
Still nervous about the Heat
during the regular season -- hard to get motivated for the NBA's long grind once you got that ring. But we're dipping a toe tonight as Miami takes the road against Dallas at -5.5.
After a long home stretch, punctuated only by a one-nighter to the Wizards, the Heat will be on its first road trip since Nov. 9-17. That road trip started with a win, and a cover, at Atlanta -- and a 4-2 mark SU, 3-3 against the spread.
Since then, Miami's started to get in a better groove. The team, and especially LeBron,
realizes there's work to do. (Witness his postgame weight-room workout after the humiliating home loss to the Knicks.)
Often, veteran teams coming off a championship or long playoff run do better ATS on the road -- see the Lakers and Celtics in 2009-2010 -- and a road trip can actually be the place where they get it together. Fewer distractions, more of a siege mentality.
So, in goes the toe. Wish us BOL, and we'll let you know how the water feels away from South Beach.
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 01:53 AM
Like our friend from "First Take," Skip Bayless, one of our main concerns about the Oklahoma City Thunder center around point guard (if you can call him that) Russell Westbrook.
Well, so far so good. Despite the departure of James Hardin, Westbrook's points are down about 2.0 a game...
But his assists are up at 8.8 a game, which would be a career high, compared to 5.5 last year.
His steals per game are up a tad, too; turnovers, down.
Sometimes, the departure of one talented guy allows another (Westbrook) to emerge unencumbered, and that may be the case with Westbrook.
All of which bears watching as the Thunder continue to exceed the expectations of many -- including us.... [More]
Posted Sunday, December 09, 2012 01:51 AM
Sticking with our conviction at season's start that the Memphis Grizzlies would not only be the league's best first half team, but its best against the spread. Love that Zach Randolph since his Clipper days, as a "power cover" forward.
Likewise, the Spurs, especially given reasonable health. Just a good, steady, boring... cover!
The Thunder have shocked us performing so well without Hardin, but we've simply stayed off them, and will continue to do so. Still not convinced Westbrook can carry the load.
Our fave team (as fans), the Boston Celtics, are, predictably, weak against the spread this year, as are the Lakers, for similar reasons: Roster turnovers, key elements missing, adds up to a 20-40 game adjustment time.
We've enjoyed systematically going against both, and will continue to do so for another 10-20 games... roughly, at least a week or two after Nash and Bradley, respectively, make their returns. With an occasional foray like our Boston-to-cover position on Rondo's return against Minnesota.
About to change:
We like the Bulls to continue their recent upturn after a dismal 4-12 ATS start. Well coached, defense doesn't slump, &tc.
Ditto the 76ers, another well-coached team, whom we took to cover against Boston at home, then flipped on the next night in Boston. Easy money... didn't anyone watch ... [More]