SH Blog – Chicago outlast Miami, Meeks goes off and LeBron’s visit to Cleveland.

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Good evening hoops fans.

This is my first crack at the Sheridan Hoops blog for quite some time, but rest assured, I will do my upmost to fill the void left by some of the blog’s veterans.

As always, there was plenty going on around the league. We’ve had upsets, injuries and brilliant individual performances on this NBA Sunday. Oh, and that team in New York is still attracting headlines.

Let’s get to it!

Bulls outlast Heat

Chicago again proved that it is at the very least capable of causing the defending champions some issues in the postseason, this time it was a gutsy overtime win at home. The Bulls out-rebounded, out-worked and out-passed the Heat while also restricting them to 40% from the field.

Most importantly, they kept LeBron quiet. Well, relatively quiet (even on this ‘quiet day’ James was a rebound and two dimes away from a triple double).

LeBron had  17 points on 8-23 shooting. Not the usual output you’d expect from the King after 45 minutes of court time. The big stat that came out of the game today: it was the first time in 332 NBA games that James went without shooting a free throw. Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah continued his stellar form with another match MVP performance. Putting together a box score of 20 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks. Noah is averaging an impressive 7.1 assists across the last month.

Noah told Sean Highkin of USA Today Sports:

“This is what you play basketball for,” Noah said. “I love it. I’m having a great time. I’m having a blast out there. Beating Miami, I don’t care if it’s regular season, it’s always special.”

Young guard Jimmy Butler also praised Noah’s brilliant play and leadership:

“He’s a hell of a player at both ends of the floor,”

 ”I don’t know what we would do without him. He’s a great leader. He puts the team on his back every night.”

LeBron’s visit to Cleveland

LeBron James returned to Cleveland on Saturday night to witness his buddy, Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement. Funny enough, James spent his time at the ceremony alongside the man who had spent the past three and a half years mending the mess left by LeBron’s fateful ‘decision’ back in the summer of 2010.

Beacon Journal Sportswriter, Jason Lloyd did a great job of summing up proceedings in Cleveland:

“James spent the ceremony sitting on the Cavs’ bench next to the general manager who was fired a month ago, while the Cavs players sat along the baseline after leaving the locker room and watched. You can’t make this stuff up.

Grant and James laughed and chatted throughout the speeches, snapping pictures of Ilgauskas and his plaque, then took more pictures as his honorary jersey was raised for the first time.

As Ilgauskas left the floor, he thumped James on the chest, then his wife, Jennifer, hugged James on her way out.”

lebron-wade1

Phil Jackson update

Sheridan Hoops’ own, Charley Rosen wrote a terrific piece today outlining that Phil Jackson’s coaching days still seem to be over but a front office job isn’t out of the question. With the Knicks? Sure! However, Rosen also listed some other alternatives that Jackson may be able to consider:
“What other possibilities might be offered to Jackson?

Atlanta? Sacramento? Working for MJ in Charlotte? The underachieving Grizzlies? Too bad Jackson once called Orlando “a plastic city.”

An interesting possibility might be the Clippers, especially if this overly hyped ball club flops early in the playoffs. Just imagine how many blue-chip free agents would love (Love?) to play in L.A. under the direction of the Zen Master”

For more discussion and to find out the pros and cons of Phil Jackson working in New York be sure to listen to Chris Sheridan’s  latest podcast.

 

Jodie Meeks lights up the Staples Center

Jodie Meeks has always been known as a marksman across the NBA and today the Oklahoma City Thunder found out first hand exactly how good a shooter Meeks can be.

Jodie Meeks, Kevin DurantDespite a 27 point, 12 assist, 10 rebound ‘triple double’ from Thunder star Kevin Durant, the Lakers got the victory at home 114-110. Thanks largely to the 42 points delivered from Jodie Meeks. Meeks hit 6 three pointers, went 11-18 from the floor and connected on everyone of his 14 free throws.

In this, his 6th year in the league (2nd with the Lakers) Meeks is averaging career highs in points, field goal percentage, assists, rebounds and steals. There is without a doubt an element of good stats on a bad team but with that being said, Meeks is surely playing his way into a bigger contract next season.

 

Injuries and heat-checks in Brooklyn

Recently acquired Nets guard Marcus Thornton has again transformed into his alter ego, The “Bayou Bomber’! This time it was against his former team Sacramento, Sunday night in Brooklyn.

The Nets looked in control from the outset despite a 28 point, 20 rebound performance from Kings big man, DeMarcus Cousins. But it was the cameo from Thornton that has got people in Brooklyn talking, and would have no doubt drawn a wry smile from Brooklyn GM Billy King.

Thornton scored an impressive 27 points in 28 minutes of play. Shooting 5-8 from distance and 11-15 from the floor. Since being traded to the Nets, Thornton has looked invigorated and appears to be appreciating playing alongside the Nets host of veterans. He now has a clearly defined role in Brooklyn and if he keeps shooting like that, Kidd will undoubtedly keep his green light on.

Point guard, Deron Williams praised Thornton’s ‘heat check’ style of play post game.

395px-Paul_pierce_nets

“There’s not many guys that can do what he does. … He comes in, he hits one, it’s like NBA Jam. He’s on fire.”

It wasn’t all positive news coming out of Brooklyn’s camp however, Nets forward Paul Pierce was forced to leave the game due to a sore right shoulder. He did not return.

Pierce has been dealing with a ‘stinger’ in his right shoulder. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York revealed details of Pierce’s struggles.

“It’s been a problem for me throughout the last few years,” Pierce said Friday night. “It’s weak right now, so whenever I get hit in that shoulder … just with the constant years of banging, especially now that I’m playing the 4. So it’s a quick stinger.”

Later in the contest, the Nets also lost forward Andrei Kirilenko to a sprained right ankle. Both players will join veteran Kevin Garnett on the day-to-day injury list. Which for these old Nets, often means week-to-week.

Jake Henson is an Australian born, NBA writer who recentley joined the team at Sheridan Hoops. You can follow him on twitter here: @jwhenson_.

 

Tweet of the Day: Pau Gasol Praises Jodie Meeks

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Jodie Meeks, Kevin Durant

It was a day of surprises in the NBA.

The Chicago Bulls beat a healthy Miami Heat team, the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Los Angeles Lakers but most surprising of all: Jodie Meeks scored 42. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Lakers guard made 11-of-18 field goals and was red-hot from the free-throw line, hitting all 14 of his attempts.

Somewhere near the bottom of all the game reports will be mention of Kevin Durant, he had a pretty good game, too. Durant recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 12 dimes and 10 boards in the losing effort.

This is one of those games that doesn’t need much analyzing, the Lakers were in 2010 mode. The Thunder were caught off guard, understandably, and never had a chance to catch up in the fourth quarter.

Pau Gasol took a moment to praise his teammate’s big game.

 

These moments are far and few between this season in L.A., hats off to the Lakers. But let’s not throw a parade just yet.

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Tweet of the Day: Damian Lillard Takes Note of Andrew Wiggins 41-Point Game

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Brett Poirier is a contributor to Sheridan Hoops.

Tweet of the Day: Marshall Madness Hits LA

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Kendall Marshall

With a string of injuries at the point guard position, the Los Angeles Lakers have dipped into the NBA D-League to look for potential talent, and they may have found a gem.

With injuries to Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Xavier Henry and most recently Jordan Farmar, the Lakers were desperate for help in the backcourt, that’s where Kendall Marshall comes in. The 22-year-old PG out of North Carolina was drafted 13th overall by the Phoenix Suns in 2012 but was unable to find his niche in the league. He’s since been playing elsewhere, including with the Delaware 87ers where he was called up from.

Let me throw this out there, I’m not sold on this whole “Marshall Madness” thing quite yet.

Through three games with the Lakers he’s been efficient, averaging about 13 points and eight assists per game, but it was his third game that turned heads.

On Friday night at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz, Marshall recorded 20 points, 15 assists, and six rebounds. L.A. also got the 110-99 win and snapped its six game losing streak.

Give Marshall credit, after the best game of his NBA career, he didn’t recognize his own play but commented on the win instead.

 

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni brought up a well-known name after the game. “I’m not making any comparison but Jeremy Lin did the same thing,” he told reporters. We all know about the splash that Lin made in New York with the Knicks a couple seasons ago when he was coached by none other than Mike D’Antoni. Like Marshall, Lin was called up from the D-League and after a few games of riding the bench, had his opportunity. He strung together a series of big games as the Knicks starting point guard and became one of the NBA’s most famous player’s because of it.

There’s no need to caution you all about this, but I will anyways. It’s only one game. Let’s see if he can do this again. Remember, success can be temporary but consistency is skill.

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Tweet of the Night: J.R. Smith admits making bad decision against Rockets, accepts criticism

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Brett Poirier is a contributor to Sheridan Hoops.

Scotto: New Year’s Resolutions for Knicks and Nets: Rebuild

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Can money buy happiness? If you’re the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks, the answer is no.Prokhorov

The Nets have the league’s highest payroll, while the Knicks rank second.

The combined exorbitant payroll has produced a deflating 18-38 record and proven any championship aspirations were merely a pipe dream.

Ironically, speaking of the pipe, J.R. Smith was the first Knick to panic back when the team was only 3-8 at the time. Now, it appears Smith’s anxiety was warranted.

Thanks to injuries, a lack of chemistry and a subsequent lack of identity, the outlook for both teams is bleak for the rest of this season and the following season, too.

Therefore, it’s time for both organizations to make a critical decision – it’s time to begin rebuilding each roster.

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NBA Gambling: Notes from the Quarter Pole – Bet The Lakers!

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The gambling life ain’t easy, folks — which is where today’s tale begins. But by the time you get to the end of today’s column, hopefully you’ll be amused by my personal adventures and enlightened by my leaguewide analysis.

We are at the quarter-pole of the NBA season, and trends have emerged.

First, to truly appreciate what it means to gamble on the NBA on a daily basis, you had to experience what it was like to bet on the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, December 3rd. Before we begin, it is also important to note, I personally had a few dollars on the Magic and Raptors in these two contests, so you can follow the pain and agony along with me. Let me paint you a picture of what occurred in both of those games:

Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers

At the Las Vegas Hilton (LVH), the line opened at -3.5 in favor of the 76ers, quickly dropped to -3, and ended up closing at -4 just before tip-off. In terms of the over/under, the line opened at 208 and ended up closing at around 206.

oladipoAt the end of the 1st half, the Sixers led the Magic 58-57 and was on pace to go over the total early on.

The game went into the 4th quarter with the Sixers up 85-80 and with a little over six minutes left in regulation, Philadelphia had their largest lead of the quarter at 91-83.

The game came to a head with a minute left in regulation, the Sixers up 4 and the Magic coming out of a timeout. Aaron Afflalo hit a 3-pointer to reduce the Sixers’ lead to one, 102-101 and 15 seconds later, Thaddeus Young came right down the floor and drained six-foot jump shot of his own to extend the lead to three.

Then, the bizarro began …

Glen Davis, who has six career 3-pointers in 40 attempts over six-plus seasons, mailed a 3 to tie it, and Evan Turner missed a layup at the end of regulation to force overtime. The score of the game previous to Davis’ 3 was 104-101 (205 total points), which meant his “miraculous” three not only put the game into overtime, but took the point total from under to over.

The Sixers led by five with a minute and a half to go in overtime and ended up fouling Aaron Afflalo attempting a 3-pointer, down three, with 12 seconds left Afflalo made all three free throws and the game went to double-overtime. The Sixers again had a five-point lead, but this time with 20 seconds left in double-overtime, Andrew Nicholson hit a two-point field goal to bring the lead to three before the Magic fouled James Anderson, who missed both free throws for the Sixers.

Afflalo then missed a 3-point field goal attempt, the Sixers rebounded the ball and were fouled, Anderson then hit one of two free throws and “magic” happened for Orlando bettors. After a 20-second timeout with around one second left on the clock, Afflalo hit a 25-foot 3-pointer to make the final score 126-125 Sixers, instead of 126-122, which shifted the cover from Philadelphia to Orlando in under a second.

Welcome to the ups and downs of NBA gambling.

Later Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors traveled to Golden State to face the Warriors.

The line at LVH opened at -7.5 in favor of Golden State and closed at -8 before tip-off.

The game started out pretty normal, with about four minutes left in the first quarter, the Raptors were beating the Warriors 16-14 and by the time the whistle had blown focurryur minutes later, Toronto led Golden State 36-19 and the Warriors were 25 points away from covering through just 12 minutes of play.

By the time halftime hit, Toronto was up on Golden State by a score of 65-48 (again, 25 points away from covering for the Warriors). The Raptors kept up the pace and their superior play and took an 88-70 lead into the 4th.

The lead dwindled from 17 to 10 in less than four minutes, from 10 to tied in another four minutes, and with 47 seconds left, Harrison Barnes hit a 3-pointer to put Golden State up 109-103. After two misses from DeMar DeRozan, a miss from Steve Novak and three free throws from Stephen Curry, the Warriors won the game 112-103…and covered the game by one point after a 42-15 4th quarter.

After all of that, what is the point?

Gamblers had to roll through the ups and downs of those games and not drop dead from the crazy swings. It is not a life for the feeble.

Anyway, it’s time to take a look at which teams have been the best bets …  and which teams haven’t.

Against The Spread Standings


Team Record
Pacers 14-5
Blazers 14-5
Suns 13-5-1
Lakers 11-6-1
Bobcats 11-7-1
Hawks 12-8
Rockets 11-8-1
Nuggets 10-8
Wizards 10-8
Celtics 11-9
Clippers 11-9
Warriors 9-8-2
Pistons 10-9
Timberwolves 10-9
Spurs 9-9
Mavericks 10-10
Magic 9-9
Heat 9-10
Jazz 9-10-1
Sixers 9-10
Thunder 8-9
Pelicans 7-10-1
Raptors 7-10
Bulls 7-10
Grizzlies 6-11-1
Kings 5-10-1
Nets 6-13
Knicks 5-12
Cavaliers 5-13
Bucks 5-13

If you are familiar with the regular NBA standings, the top of the ATS (Against The Spread) standings should come as no shock to you with the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers leading the way with 14 ATS wins so far this season.

The two teams collided earlier this week in Portland for one of the best games of the year. Portland come out on top and showed that they should be taken very seriously across the league this season. (Check out where LeMarcus Aldridge is ranked in Chris Sheridan’s latest MVP rankings.)

Some of the more surprising teams on this list have to be the top Eastern Conference teams; here are the top 5 in the ATS East: Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics. With the Knicks, Nets and Bulls near the bottom of the list, the entire conference has been turned upside down just a quarter into the season. My particular surprise team on this list has to be the Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. is 11-6-1 ATS for 4th place in the NBA, and they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games.

Looking Forward: Against The Spread

I have said it since the beginning of the season and I will reiterate it now. I personally believe the Orlando Magic will have a bit of a successful season if you are using their preseason win total (24.5) line as the barometer. The Magic are currently 9-9 ATS through 18 games and 6-12 overall. As long as the books do not look at Orlando as a threa, I believe they will do a good job at covering numbers as underdogs against some of the better teams in the league.

Over the summer, I pinpointed four teams (three of which had 100/1 odds or greater) I personally liked to place future wagers on: Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and my favorite, the Indiana Pacers. Based on what we have seen so far, I am not upset with any of those picks for a few different reasons. The Pacers own the best record in the NBA both straight up and ATS, and the Pelicans, Timberwolves and Pistons all have nine wins and are basically playing .500 basketball through a 1/4 of the season.

Update on Individual Awards

I am referencing the column I wrote on Sheridan Hoops about a week before the season started on the odds on such awards as the MVP, Rookie of the Year, Scoring leader as well as a few proposition bets. When accessing the rookie class so far, lets start with Chris Bernucca‘s Week 5 Rookie Rankings, which puts Michael Carter-Williams 1st (8/1), Victor Oladipo 2nd (4/1), Trey Burke 3rd (5/1), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 4th (20/1) and Ben McLemore 5th (7/1). I personally believe it will be a two-horse race between Oladipo and Carter-Williams, but given the lack of scoring around Burke and the fact he didn’t have as much of a head start as the other two players may not make a difference if he stays healthy.

georgelebronNext, we will dive into the current MVP race in the NBA. We will start by referencing Chris Sheridan‘s column earlier this week on the MVP award and its current participants a 1/4 of the way through the season. Here are Sheridan’s top five current candidates for the award: Paul George (35/1), LaMarcus Aldridge (125/1), Kevin Durant (3.5/1), LeBron James (1.4/1) and Tony Parker (30/1). The prices on the first two players on this list are very, very intriguing if you were able to grab tickets on them before the season started, but it is still very hard for me to believe that anyone else but LeBron James will ultimately win this award.

In my opinion, Paul George may have an actual shot to win this award if the Pacers can keep up their win pace to a degree for the remainder of the season. That would mean having to win 60+ games and keeping the remainder of the Eastern Conference a bunch of games behind them to make it look good compared to the absurd numbers James will put up by seasons end.

Nothing is too shocking when you are looking at the early numbers for scoring, rebounding and assist leaders in the clubhouse. Here are the top 5 players in each category, their preseason odds to lead the league in those statistical categories, and then I will throw in a dark-horse or two to watch as the season moves along.

Scoring

Kevin Durant  was the favorite at 6/5, and he is atop the league at 28.5 ppg. LeBron James is third at 25.7, and if he avoids any more of the energy voids like the one that plagued him in last night’s 20-point loss to Chicago, he can make a run for this distinction. (Check out this Chris Bernucca column on how James is doing things that even Michael Jordan didn’t do.) Carmelo Anthony went off at 3.15/1, and he is currently second at 25.9.

Rebounding

Only one rebound separates the top four players, led by the 13.6 of Kevin Love (1.5/1) followed by DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard, who was the preseason favorite at even money. Jordan and Drummond were 6-1 “field” bets.

Assists

paulwall

Chris Paul went off at 1.5 to 1 in the preseason, and John Wall, who is trailing him 11.8 to 9.2, should hang onto the league lead for the remainder of the season barring an injury. If that should happen, those who wagered on Wall at 9-1 or Ricky Rubio at 15/2 will have some nice action.

The Futures Market


Team Las Veags Offshore
Heat 3/2 +205
Thunder 9/2 +735
Pacers 5/1 +525
Spurs 15/2 +825
Rockets 10/1 15/1
Warriors 12/1 19/1
Clippers 12/1 14/1
Blazers 20/1 33/1
Timberwolves 40/1 60/1
Bulls 40/1 35/1
Grizzlies 50/1 45/1
Mavericks 50/1 80/1
Nets 60/1 30/1
Raptors 60/1 275/1
Nuggets 75/1 70/1
Pelicans 100/1 185/1
Pistons 100/1 150/1
Knicks 100/1 66/1
Celtics 100/1 350/1
Lakers 100/1 85/1
Wizards 100/1 150/1
Hawks 100/1 100/1
Cavaliers 200/1 150/1
Sixers 500/1 250/1
Kings 500/1 500/1
Suns 500/1 225/1
Bobcats 500/1 500/1
Magic 1000/1 750/1
Bucks 2000/1 500/1
Jazz 9999/1 1000/1

When comparing the current futures market rankings to the market we analyzed over the summer and right before the season started, a few different notes and observations come to mind.

The play of the two New York teams really sent a shock wave through the east coast. The Knicks and Nets were a combined 39/1 to win the NBA Championship if you added up both teams average odds before the season started. Now, they are a combined 128/1 and both in the melochandlerbottom half of the Eastern Conference, currently outside of the playoffs looking in. Injuries have been a big factor for both teams early in the season with Paul Pierce, Tyson Chandler and Deron Williams missing extended periods of time through the first quarter of the season.

The Blazers and Timberwolves look to have made the biggest jump to the list of contenders based on their future odds before the season started. Portland was between 100/1 and 200/1 depending on if you shopped in Las Vegas or offshore, and Minnesota was between 100/1 and 175/1, which makes both a pretty good investment at the current moment if you own their preseason tickets.

If I were to wager at the current moment, it would be very hard for me to resist taking the New York Knicks at 100/1 at the LVH knowing they are getting Tyson Chandler back, and I just do not believe it will get much worse for them.

They will make the playoffs and having a team like the Knicks, with what the remainder of the Eastern Conference looks like, I think a wager on 100/1 is hard to avoid.

I am not too sure what to do with this news, but either way, the Raptors are 60/1 in Las Vegas, but 275/1 offshore.

With the Atlantic Division looking so poor early on and the Celtics, 76ers and Raptors at the top of the division by a few games, the odds of the teams near the top just need to come down a bit. I do not think the Raptors are a threat to do anything of note, but the difference is noteworthy.

The current issue with betting futures on teams like the Hawks, Wizards and Pistons purely based on the standings is the fact that teams like the Magic, Raptors and Cavaliers are only two to three games back with only around 20 games having been played already.

Don’t judge a team based on the standings, but what you have seen from them on the floor and what you think the potential of that team is going forward.

Evan Abrams writes about basketball gambling for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter @Betropolitan.

MORE FROM EVAN ABRAMS:

NBA ODDS ON PLAYERS BEING TRADED
PROP BET LINES ON SCORING LEADER, REBOUNDING, MVP, MORE
NBA FUTURES ODDS: LAS VEGAS VS. OFFSHORE
TEAM BY TEAM OVER/UNDER ODDS FOR WIN TOTALS