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Saturday, November 28, 2009

NBA Weekend Betting - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz

NBA Weekend Betting - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz

by Charles Jay

Portland Trail Blazers (12-5 SU, 10-7 ATS) at Utah Jazz (8-7 SU, 7-8 ATS)

(Records are good through Thursday; please check Friday's results)

Saturday, November 28 - 9 PM ET

Here are some of the head-to-head NBA pro basketball sports betting trends as they relate to this matchup:

  • PORT has won and covered five of the last eight meetings
  • Four of the last six meetings have gone OVER the total
  • UTAH has won and covered four of the last five meetings as the home team
  • PORT has had the shooting edge in five of the last eight meetings
  • PORT has had the rebounding edge in four of the last five meetings
  • PORT has made more three-pointers in each of the last eight meetings

You see on that list that the Blazers have made more threes in every one of the last eight meetings with the Jazz. Utah does not shoot three-pointers all that often; in fact, they have made only 3.5 per game (28th in NBA) and only eight in the last three games. That will persist until they get Kyle Korver back off the injured lost, but it hasn't really hurt them that badly, as they've won four of the last five.

Portland went into the weekend only one game in back of the overall lead in the Western Conference. You have to admire what this team has created, which is a true ensemble with an able leader at the head of it in Brandon Roy, who's averaged 19.4 points a game. Both Roy and Andre Miller have very good assist-turnover ratios.

Greg Oden has become more of a force in the middle in his second full NBA season, averaging 2.4 blocks a game and shooting 64% from the floor (11.7 ppg).

Carlos Boozer had 28 points the other night for the Jazz against Chicago, with understudy Paul Millsap adding 12 points and nine rebounds. These two also spend time on the court together, meaning that Utah has the ability to pound other teams, and if they can get Millsap in there to defend LaMarcus Aldridge (Boozer is not a real stopper), they may be in good shape. Watch Mehmet Okur, who's got a perimeter game, try and draw Oden outside.

Portland will come into this game off a home game against Memphis, while the Jazz have had rest, and are harboring some feelings of revenge for the last time these teams met, where Portland walloped Utah by a 125-104 count.

Friday, November 27, 2009

NBA Futures

Futures are the closest thing sports gamblers have to stocks. They're investments we keep an eye on throughout the year, hoping we can cash them in for a handsome profit in the future.

The obvious difference is you can't sell your futures wagers mid-season. However, you can choose to invest in futures at any point in the season. The odds change, and while the most outrageous odds (the Tampa Bay Devil Rays opened the '08 MLB season at 70-1) are found in pre-season futures, it can be profitable to invest once we know who the real contenders are.

There is more value in leagues with best of five or seven game series as opposed to single elimination sprints (NCAA hoops, NFL playoffs). The NBA is a strong example. How many teams realistically have a shot to win a best-of-seven playoff format every year? Maximum four or five, right?

This year is a bit trickier with the Eastern conference no longer the whipping boy of the West. Let's take a look at some contenders and darkhorses from both conferences.

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics (11-4 record, opening odds 4-1, current odds 3-1)
Predicted playoff seed: #1(East)

Kevin Garnett's shakey right knee undoubtedly cost the Celtics a chance to repeat last season. The unexpected surplus was the offensive development of Glen "Big Baby" Davis in his absence. The offseason additions of Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels solidify Boston as the deepest frontcourt in the league.

With KG back at full strength the Celts came out of the gates hot, dropping the Cavaliers in Cleveland (where Lebron and company lost just once last season) en route to a torrid 8-1 start. Home losses to Phoenix, Atlanta, and Orlando squelched early discussion the C's would threaten MJ's 1996 Bulls for regular season dominance but the Celtics remain the favorites in the East.

Why they can win it: Despite their offensive star power, this team has always dominated on the defensive end. They have a hard-nosed, physical team mentality on D and can control the game's tempo. Their preference is to turn big games into a slow, grinding slugfest until the fourth quarter when they turn to Paul Pierce to close it out.

Why they might stumble: The durability issues for Garnett remain. The big three is aging and declining in production but the rise of Rondo and veteran presence of Wallace has helped pick up the slack. Wait to see if you can grab this team at 4-1 or higher before the all-star break.

Atlanta Hawks (11-3, opening odds 50-1, current odds 25-1)
Predicted playoff seed: #4(East)
Even with an Eastern conference best .786 winning pct, it's hard to imagine the young Hawks hoisting the NBA championship this soon. Still, this season's "it" team is loaded with young talent up front but will ultimately only go as far as veteran guards Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby takes them.

Why they can win it: The addition of Jamal Crawford has vaulted this team into the first tier of Eastern Conference contenders. With SF Marvin Williams finally playing up to his potential, there are no weak positions on this roster. GM Rick Sund has quietly put together a talented core of players who are meshing early under head coach Mike Woodson.

Why they might stumble: The Hawks road woes were well documented during their surprising competitive seven game series with the top seeded Celtics last season. A championship team can't give away twenty points every time they travel into enemy territory. Don't expect this squad to hold onto the #1 seed, if they want to make noise in the postseason they're going to have to prove they can win games away from Philips arena first. Those who were lucky enough to get in at 50-1 found great value, but 25-1 still good enough odds to consider the only legit darkhorse contender this season.

Other teams to watch in the East:

Cleveland Cavaliers (11-5, opened 3-1, current odds 4-1) The Shaq trade has already stalled, can Lebron shoulder the load or is he already thinking ahead to New York?

Orlando Magic (12-4, opened 9-1, current odds 8-1) Last year's finalists took a big blow when Hedo Turkoglu departed via free agency. Not sold on Vince Carter (.411 fg pct, 2.3apg) bringing this team back to the finals.

Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers (11-3, opening odds 2-1, current odds 2.5-1)
Predicted playoff seed: #1 (West)
Eleven of the Lakers first fourteen games have been in the Staples center. It'll be interesting to see how they fare on their first East coast road trip in mid-December. The Artest experiment has produced modest results thus far (12.5ppg, 5.3rpg, 4.1apg) while Trevor Ariza has surprised no one by upping his production in Houston as a starter (18.4ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.1spg). Regardless, these are the defending champs for a reason. It's hard to see any team in the west giving them a real series come April.

Why they can win it: The Lakers remain the league's most potent offensive machine. They still have the league's top all-around weapon in Kobe Bryant (not yet, Lebron) and newly minted ten-time champion coach Phil Jackson. Expect the Lakeshow to pull away from early contenders (Phoenix, Dallas, Denver) and coast to the #1 seed after the all-star break.

Why they might stumble: Pau Gasol's health. While he returned to form quickly after missing the first eleven games with a hamstring injury, Gasol needs to stay on the court for the Lakers to repeat. While Bynum and Odom give them viable alternatives to fill up the lane, Gasol is in a class by himself when it comes to post savvy scoring and reliable free throw shooting down the stretch. Still, it's hard to take any team at less than 3-1 futures odds. The season is just too long.

Phoenix Suns(12-3, opening odds 60-1, current odds 28-1)
Predicted playoff seed: #3(West)
Atlanta aside, Alvin Gentry's Suns has been the NBA's other surprise team. The Suns were wise to declare the Shaq experiment over and return to their run n' gun roots (they are averaging an NBA best 111.4ppg). Steve Nash's early play (16.7ppg, an NBA best 11.9apg) quickly erased whispers that he was past his prime after last season's disappointing finish.

Why they can win: The Suns are back to their bread and butter: running pick and roll with Stoudemire and Nash and kicking it out for the three ball when the duo gets doubled. Jason Richardson (17ppg, 46.6 3pt%) finally looks comfortable in the offense. Thanks to Nash, the Suns are distributing the ball and have reliable shooters on the perimeter. This team struggled to find an identity last season with the arrival of O'Neal, it's clear they've found one early and it makes them a scary matchup come playoff time.

Why they might stumble: Lack of defensive intensity has been the same old story for Phoenix since Mark D'antoni installed their supercharged offense in 2006. The hiring of defensive minded Terry Porter was a disaster, so the Suns front office gave interim (now full-time) coach Gentry the green light to run again. The Suns also lack muscle on the boards, their leading rebounder is 37-year old Grant Hill (7.2rpg). There is simply no intimidating shotblocking or rebounding post presence, making this the least likely of the four teams to go all the way.

Other teams to watch in the West:

Dallas Mavericks (12-4, opening odds 25-1, current odds 20-1)

Mark Cuban did his best to surround Nowitzki with more pieces (Drew Gooden, Shawn Marion, Tim Thomas). Despite Dirk playing to his utmost potential the last couple seasons, there is no value in wagering on the Mavs unseating the Lakers this year.

Denver Nuggets (11-4, opening odds 14-1, current odds 14-1)

Melo is enjoying an MVP season so far (29.7ppg, 6.1rpg). This is the only team in the West that matches up well with the Lakeshow, if they somehow end up at 20-1 or higher this season make sure you grab the Nuggets.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Phoenix Suns face off against the Lakers

Suns visit Lakers in Pacific Division heavyweight clash

(Sports Network) - Early season supremacy in the Pacific Division is on the line Thursday when the reigning NBA champion LA Lakers play host to a streaking Phoenix team at Staples Center.

The Suns improved to 8-1 on the young season, one game ahead of the Lakers for the division lead, on Wednesday in Phoenix with an easy 124-104 win over New Orleans.

Amare Stoudemire had 21 points and was one of eight Suns players in double figures in the game.

"The Lakers are on a three day rest and at home, waiting on us, so we were able to get in and play great basketball for the first three quarters and the starters had a chance to rest," said Stoudemire. "The second unit played great and got the win for us, so it felt good - we got a chance to really rest up and ice there in the fourth quarter."

Grant Hill scored 18 and Goran Dragic 14 while Channing Frye and Jason Richardson totaled 13 points each. Steve Nash checked in with 12 points and 10 assists for Phoenix, which was coming off an impressive 4-1 east coast road trip.

It's the team's best start since opening with an 11-1 ledger in 1980-81 and ties them with Boston for the best start so far in 2009-10.

The Suns shot a sizzling 63 percent (29-for-46) in the first half and racked up a whopping 75 points -- the most by a team in one half so far this season. Meanwhile, Phoenix has scored 100 or more points in each of its first nine games for the first time since the 1990-91 campaign.

"I think we can play even better - we did a lot of things right on both ends of the floor, but the funny thing is I don't even think we're running yet," said Richardson. "So once we get to that where we're just up and down and going like we normally do, we'll be pretty good."

The Lakers improved to 2-0 on a three-game homestand Sunday when Kobe Bryant had 28 points -- 26 in a strong first half -- to lead Los Angeles in a 104-88 drubbing of the Hornets.

Bryant shot 10-of-16 in the first half and sat out a large portion of the second half for the Lakers, who have won six of their first seven games. Shannon Brown added 15 points off the bench, while Luke Walton had 11.

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Los Angeles continued to play without Pau Gasol (hamstring) and Andrew Bynum (elbow).

"We came out with our foot on the gas," Bryant said. "I miss Pau, and I guess I have to carry us a little more until he comes back. The bench played extremely well tonight; they came in tonight and gave us a huge boost."

Gasol will remain on the sidelines tonight but Bynum is expected back in the starting lineup.

The Lakers took three of four games from Phoenix last season.


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