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Ball Don't Lie
2014-12-04

Its fair to say that San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is taking a victory leap of sorts around the NBA, and its more than earned.

Its not just that Popovichs Spurs routed the Miami Heat in last years NBA Finals; its the way coach Pop went about movements that led to the glow. His system encouraged top line players to take pay cuts. He fought the NBA and wisely sat players, mindful of the 100-some game slog that a championship season demands. His championship teams have ranged from low post killers to defensive-minded stunners to the absolutely gorgeous, international-style basketball that was last seasons winner. Even in a San Antonio defeat on Wednesday night, Brooklyn Nets forward Mirza Teletovic praised San Antonios European-styled system after the game for allowing him to see the floor more clearly on his way toward a season-high 26 points in a Brooklyn win.

He allowed the first internationally-raised basketball coach to serve as head coach of the Spurs earlier this season. He hired the more than qualified Becky Hammon to serve as the first full time female assistant coach in NBA history. Hell make champions out of players as disparate as Stephen Jackson, and Boris Diaw.

Most importantly, to many of his coaching colleagues? He still gets under Phil Jacksons skin.

Jackson referred to Popovichs strengths last spring when discussing his hopes for the New York Knicks, as he attempts to resurrect the long-moribund franchise. Because Phil Jackson is Phil Jackson, though, he had to offer a Phil Jackson-styled qualifier. From Newsday:

"Tim Duncan making the salary he's making after being part of a dynasty -- not a dynasty, I wouldn't call San Antonio a dynasty -- a force, a great force," Jackson said in April. "They haven't been able to win consecutive championships, but they've always been there."

With the Spurs in Brooklyn on Wednesday, local press had to ask Popovich if he had any reaction to Jacksons months-old comments.
From Newsday:

"Oooh, that makes me so mad!" he said before the Spurs played the Nets Wednesday night.

But, Pop said it very sarcastically.

[]

"Just write whatever you want and I'll say I said it," Popovich joked. "Make it good though so you can get a promotion. Juicy. Ugly. Really good."

The dynasty/not a dynasty argument is really daft honestly, who cares? Its true that the Spurs have yet to win two titles in a row, injuries and other very good basketball teams have gotten in the way of such, but five titles spread out over 15 years with one mainstay big man and a backcourt that was around for four of the five is about as amazing as pro basketball gets. For the Spurs to roar back from what should have been an enervating loss in the 2013 Finals to play at their absolute peak some 12 months later might be the most impressive thing Ive ever seen in lo, these many years of covering this league.

Phil Jackson certainly competes, on that level. Winning 54 games with Pete Myers as your shooting guard and Michael Jordan shagging flies ranks up there. As does sustaining three different three-peat winners in spite of fatigue, in-fighting, or championship-level competition on the opposing side of the floor. Call it a coin flip, if you want to be right about things.

To Popovichs credit, however, hes not the one who is engaging these pissing matches. Phil Jackson might not be technically engaging here either, he just cant help speaking candidly, he just cant help being Phil Jackson. Hes just kind of like that, thankfully, and thankfully Gregg Popovich similarly remains true to his thoughts as to what counts, and what doesnt.

Phil Jacksons Knicks, and by extension Phil Jacksons preferred triangle offense, has been rightfully called out on the carpet for their overreliance on long two-point shots. This is more the fault of the players than the offense again, the ideal result from a triangles unfolding is a shot near the rim but Jackson has added to the intrigue by criticizing three-point shots as an NBA staple over the summer.

One of the shots most vocal opponents, through the years, is former Knick and former Jackson teammate Bill Bradley. Bradley has long called for the abolition of the shot, purporting that it reduces ball movement and slows the game to a standstill.

That may have been true around the time of the release of Bradleys last basketball book, but in the modern era the same cant be said. Bradley signed off on as much when he got in touch with the coach of the three-point heavy San Antonio Spurs over the summer to credit him with making the NBA fun again.

From the New York Times:

But stuff happens. The Spurs revolution overthrowing King James was televised. Within days, Joe Torre had weighed in with a congratulatory note. Then Bill Bradley called to tell Popovich that Tim Duncan and friends had reminded him of his old Knicks teams and that they had renewed his love of the N.B.A. game.

You say to yourself, something special must have really happened, Popovich said before heading to Brooklyn for Wednesday nights game against the Nets at Barclays Center, where the Spurs eight-game winning streak was broken. I should know this. I was there; I should have noticed.

[]

Of the call from Bradley, who is six years older than the 65-year-old Popovich, he said: I was speechless. He was a hero.

If Gregg Popovich can convince Bill Bradley that a shot from 23 feet away is optimal, then hes done his job here.

Now all Bradley needs to do is convince his ex-teammate that these Spurs are pretty damn dynastic.




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2015-02-15

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NBA: LA Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks betting preview
2010-11-17

All good things must come to an end, and the Lakers’ perfect start was no exception as they suffered back-to-back losses before heading to the Midwest for a three-game stint. The oddsmakers at Sportsbook.com don’t expect the Lakers to drop another one as they are currently 3.5-point favorites tonight as they visit Milwaukee.
The reigning champs fell short by six in Denver last Thursday and went down Sunday at home 121-116 against Phoenix, which shot an incredible 22-of-40 from three-point land. The 22 three-pointers were the second-highest total in NBA history. Despite outrebounding (62-38) and outscoring (68-28) Phoenix in the paint, L.A. was unable to stop the Suns’ phenomenal outside shooting.
Kobe Bryant was one rebound away from a triple-double, and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom both had more than 20 points and 10 boards. If the Lakers take this offense on the road, they will have no problem beating Milwaukee Tuesday night. Bryant is 21-4 in his career against the Bucks, averaging 23.9 PPG against them. Look for L.A. to bounce back in these next three road games, all of which are against teams at .500 or below.
Milwaukee is on a three-game win streak and was afforded two days of rest after a 79-72 win against the Warriors in the Bradley Center. John Salmons led the team with 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting and Brandon Jennings had his third double-double on the season with 19 points and career-high 11 boards. This matchup against the Lakers will be the Bucks’ fourth straight game against a top-10 scoring team. Milwaukee held its last three opponents to an average of 19.8 points below each team’s scoring average on the season. The Bucks, who are allowing a league-low 89.4 points per game, will need to play tight defense against the league’s top-scoring Lakers (112.5 PPG) if they want any chance to get a win against the defending champs.
The Lakers have won the past five games SU in the series, but the NBA betting public has cashed on the other side as Milwaukee is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings with the Lakers.
However, this NBA betting trend found at Sportsbook.com indicates that the Lakers will cover the point spread.
Play On - Road favorites (LA LAKERS) - after being beaten by the spread by 24 or more points total in their last three games against opponent after going under the total by 54 or more points total in their last ten games. (38-14 since 1996.) (73.1%, +22.6 units. Rating = 2*).
For additional basketball betting trends or to bet on any of the games on tonight’s NBA betting board, head over to Sportsbook.com now.


NBA: Heat and Suns have to play better
2010-04-20

While the biggest story surrounding game two between Miami and Boston centers around the Kevin Garnett suspension, Heat players know the real issue involves shooting 39.8 percent, scoring 76 points and committing 22 turnovers. If that happens again, the Heat jump into a 0-2 hole they helped dig. At least Miami hasn’t lost at home, something Phoenix can’t say. The Suns players should have listened to local talk radio, as their fans assumed they would be mature and take the game to the short-handed Portland. Instead, they waltzed around and let the Trailblazers steal the series opener. Two NBA teams, two NBA situations, the Heat and Suns must address. Let’s take a quick look at both games. Head over to the GAME MATCHUP page on Sportsbook.com for more key betting trends and information.


Miami at Boston 8:00E TNT


The Heat knew what to expect against Boston, they had already lost to them three times this season, yet once again they failed to find the answer. Dwayne Wade can win a game or possibly even two with the right set of circumstances; however he can’t go at it alone to win a series.


Boston’s strategy is to do the best it can with Wade defensively, but more importantly, don’t let anyone else become a factor. Other than the former Marquette product, no other Miami player has scored 20 points this season against the Celtics and in series opener, Quentin Richardson was the only other player to reach double digits (15 points).


Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said, "We just did not show a lot of composure. ... To play to that kind of pressure, a little bit of duress, a little bit of adversity, we did not respond well to it." His club is 6-19 ATS in road encounters revenging four or more losses to same opponent.


Boston will miss KG, but coach Doc Rivers will do what he does best, rally the troops for key moments.


“Kevin also facilitates a lot of offense. In the first game, a lot of our open shots came off Kevin being involved in the play. That’s my biggest concern. You’re losing 15 points and, more importantly, you’re losing all the picks, all the postups where they had to trap. That’s big. We’re going to have to try to find some points somewhere.” Rivers also talked about Garnett’s defensive energy and will present this as challenge to Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace and others to pitch in.


Sportsbook.com saw Boston go off as 4.5-point in the first matchup and took revenge and no Garnett into consideration and dropped the Celtics to two-point choice, with the wagering public taking it a step further. The Celtics are now listed as single point home favorites, with steady total of 179.


Boston has won six straight over Miami at home (3-3 ATS) yet is merely 13-26-2 ATS as a home favorite and 21-12 UNDER after they’ve covered the spread this season. The Heat is going to have to force the tempo and make shots. They are 8-0 OVER off a road loss scoring less than 80 points, winning by 7.8 points per game.


Portland at Phoenix 10:00E NBA-TV


The clues were there and the intelligent sports bettor spotted them and played Portland in Game 1. Phoenix was an eight-point favorite with total of 204, suggesting the Suns should have won the first round opening tilt 106-98. The score relating to the Trailblazers exactly matched their season total home and away. Phoenix however averages 110.1 points a game and over 112 at home. The numbers didn’t add up and Portland got the upset.


Every typical flaw the Suns have was exposed by an outstanding game plan by coach Nate McMillian.


Defensively they pressured Steve Nash early in the shot clock, making him yo-yo the dribble and eat up time. Phoenix prefers to get right into offense and most times they didn’t get anything started until 15 or less seconds. They doubled Amare Stoudemire wherever possible and he needed 19 shots to accumulate 18 points.


On offense, Portland ran when given the opportunity and Andre Miller kept driving to the rim and Phoenix had no answer. This allowed Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge to score in deep. A 14-2 SU & 11-4-1 ATS close to the season meant nothing after four quarters of playoff basketball for coach Alvin Gentry’s squad.


Nash was candid about how his team played, even if it seemed unusual. “We didn’t quite have the spirit or the energy collectively that we had in the last few games of the regular season,” Nash said. “Sometimes that happens.”


When asked about the importance of this being playoff time he responded, “You can never predict. I mean, I thought we played hard. I just thought we didn’t quite have that spark that we needed,” he said. “I don’t know— biorhythms.”


Phoenix’ compelling season could be all but over with another loss, however, the Suns are 8-1 ATS at home after a defeat by six points or less this season. The Suns are 8.5-point faves with total of 204.5. Watch that total closely, since they are 41-24 OVER revenging a same season failure the last three seasons.


Portland has the second best road record in the NBA at 25-17 (26-14-2 ATS) and is 18-6 ATS off a road win this season. It will be imperative for the Blazers to again contain the tempo as assuredly the Suns will want to play at a more aggressive pace. Portland is 21-8 UNDER as visitors when the total is greater than or equal to 200.


The StatFox Power Lines for these games show Boston by 3, Phoenix by 7




NBA: Top NBA Weekend Power Trends 2/19-2/21
2010-02-19

The trade deadline has passed in the NBA and several teams made significant moves to either improve their teams or their financial flexibility preparing for the upcoming offseason’s huge free agent period. Perhaps the most notable trade was the Cavaliers obtaining Antawn Jamison from the Wizards to better their chances at another NBA Finals appearance. They, along with almost all of other 29 teams will be in action as the league plays its first full post-all-star-break weekend of games. Read on as I take a look at the most compelling contests, and reveal some of this weekend’s Top StatFox Power Trends that you’ll want to consider in your wagering.

The Friday night board is highlighted by two games on ESPN. In the first one, Dallas, with its retooled roster, travels to Orlando to take on the Magic. The Mavericks made a big trade with Washington this week to try and improve their chances of a deep postseason run. The initial results were favorable, as they were able to snap out of a funk with a big win over Phoenix on Wednesday. At Orlando, Dallas will put its 7-14 ATS record off an ATS win to test. The Magic stayed as is for the stretch run and need to be a little more consistent if they hope to reach the NBA Finals once again. In the late game, Boston continues its road trip with a stop in Portland. The Celtics have won the first two games out West, including Thursday night in Los Angeles. They have enjoyed success against the Blazers, winning eight of the L10 both SU & ATS. Elsewhere, Cleveland, who had its 13-game winning streak snapped by Denver on Thursday night, looks to start a new one when it takes on the Bobcats in Charlotte. The Cavaliers have proven much more reliable on the road this season for bettors, going 16-10 ATS.

On Saturday, there are seven games to choose from for bettors, none bigger than that between Miami and Dallas. The Heat hoped to make a big move before the trade deadline but couldn’t piece it together, now they have to hope that loyalty, and perhaps some success the rest of this season, can convince Dwyane Wade to stick around. Both teams will be on back-to-back’s with Miami having played in Memphis the night before, and Dallas coming off a game in Orlando. The Heat are 4-8 SU & ATS on zero days rest this season, while the Mavs are 7-7 SU & 6-8 ATS. Another pair of teams playing on consecutive days will be the Bobcats and Bucks. The game, played in Milwaukee, will be a battle of wills, as both teams have been good on zero days rest, with the Bucks 8-5 SU & 10-3 ATS and Charlotte 7-7 SU & 10-4 ATS. Finally, in New York, Oklahoma City and Kevin Durant make their only visit hoping to improve on already stellar marks of 19-7 ATS on the road, and 16-6 ATS against the East.

Sunday offers up a plethora of TV action with four games brought to your living room by ABC & ESPN. Tipping if all off is an Eastern Conference showdown between Cleveland and Orlando at 1:00 PM ET. The Cavs will be looking for a third straight win this season over the team that took them out of the playoffs last June, while also continuing to work Antawn Jamison into the rotation. Following that game, the Celtics will be in Denver. The Nuggets knocked off the East’s best team, Cleveland, on the road Thursday, and will put their 23-5 record at home on the line here. In the evening, on ESPN, the Golden State Warriors play host to the Hawks. The Warriors are always one of the better home underdogs around for bettors and have continued their spread covering ways this season in that role with a 9-6 ATS mark. Atlanta has thrived vs. the West this season, going 16-6 SU & 14-8 ATS headed into the weekend. Finally, a late night start finds the Trailblazers hosting the red-hot Jazz. Utah was on a 15-2 SU & 12-2-3 ATS run headed into the weekend and had closed to within 1-1/2 of the Northwest Division lead.

Now, here’s a look at some of those top trends you’ll want to consider as you build your wagering lineup for the weekend:

Friday, 02/19/2010
(801) DENVER vs. (802) WASHINGTON
WASHINGTON is 9-0 UNDER (+9 Units) when playing against a good team (Win Pct. 60% to 70%) this season. The average score was WASHINGTON 92.3, OPPONENT 96.6 - (Rating = 3*)

(805) SAN ANTONIO vs. (806) PHILADELPHIA
PHILADELPHIA is 8-23 ATS (-17.3 Units) at home vs good offensive teams - scoring 99+ PPG over the last 2 seasons. The average score was PHILADELPHIA 95.2, OPPONENT 98.7 - (Rating = 2*)

(811) INDIANA vs. (812) NEW ORLEANS
NEW ORLEANS is 1-10 ATS (-10 Units) on Friday nights this season. The average score was NEW ORLEANS 96.4, OPPONENT 99.2 - (Rating = 2*)

(815) TORONTO vs. (816) NEW JERSEY
NEW JERSEY is 2-13 ATS (-12.3 Units) versus explosive offensive teams - scoring 103+ points/game this season. The average score was NEW JERSEY 92.8, OPPONENT 111.3 - (Rating = 3*)

(819) ATLANTA vs. (820) PHOENIX
ATLANTA is 7-22 ATS (-17.2 Units) in road games vs teams who attempt >=18 3PTs/game in 2nd half of last 3 seasons. The average score was ATLANTA 91, OPPONENT 103.7 - (Rating = 2*)

Saturday, 02/20/2010
(501) WASHINGTON vs. (502) TORONTO
WASHINGTON is 17-37 ATS (-23.7 Units) revenging a same season loss vs opponent over the last 2 seasons. The average score was WASHINGTON 95.5, OPPONENT 101.8 - (Rating = 2*)

(503) OKLAHOMA CITY vs. (504) NEW YORK
OKLAHOMA CITY is 16-6 ATS (+9.4 Units) in non-conference games this season. The average score was OKLAHOMA CITY 101.3, OPPONENT 94.7 - (Rating = 1*)

(507) MIAMI vs. (508) DALLAS
DALLAS is 4-19 ATS (-16.9 Units) as a home favorite this season. The average score was DALLAS 101.5, OPPONENT 100.5 - (Rating = 4*)

(511) CHARLOTTE vs. (512) MILWAUKEE
CHARLOTTE is 27-11 ATS (+14.9 Units) vs up-tempo teams averaging 83 or more shots/game over the last 2 seasons. The average score was CHARLOTTE 99.8, OPPONENT 97.8 - (Rating = 2*)

Sunday, 02/21/2010
(805) SAN ANTONIO vs. (806) DETROIT
DETROIT is 9-23 ATS (-16.3 Units) revenging a road loss vs opponent over the last 2 seasons. The average score was DETROIT 89.4, OPPONENT 95 - (Rating = 2*)

(809) HOUSTON vs. (810) NEW ORLEANS
NEW ORLEANS is 4-17 ATS (-14.7 Units) versus poor defensive teams - shooting pct defense of >=46% this season. The average score was NEW ORLEANS 101.9, OPPONENT 104.5 - (Rating = 3*)

(813) ATLANTA vs. (814) GOLDEN STATE
ATLANTA is 13-3 ATS (+9.7 Units) versus poor defensive teams - shooting pct defense of >=46% this season. The average score was ATLANTA 111.6, OPPONENT 98.2 - (Rating = 2*)

(817) UTAH vs. (818) PORTLAND
UTAH is 18-4 ATS (+13.6 Units) versus poor pressure defensive teams - forcing <=14 turnovers/game this season. The average score was UTAH 104.7, OPPONENT 96.1 - (Rating = 3*)