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PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (17-15) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (18-13)
2012-02-20

Tip-off: Monday, 10:35 p.m. ET

Line: Los Angeles -4, Total: 180


After yet another disappointing effort on the road (12-point loss at Phoenix), the Lakers return home Monday night in search of a fifth straight win at Staples Center when they host the Blazers.

In the past 20 meetings between these teams at Staples Center, the average spread has been 8½ points. Monday's low spread is a gift, as L.A. is 17-3 SU in this span, winning those games by 11.0 PPG. The Lakers are 10-5 ATS at home, while the Blazers are 6-9 ATS on the road. Although LaMarcus Aldridge (sprained ankle) returned to action Saturday, he is not yet 100 percent and struggled mightily in his past four games at Staples, shooting a subpar 41.5% FG. The pick here is LOS ANGELES to win and cover.

Portland is finally back to full strength with the return of PF LaMarcus Aldridge (22.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG), who missed the better part of three games with a sprained left ankle. Aldridge helped spark his team to a 97-77 home blowout of Atlanta on Saturday with 19 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes of action. SF Nicolas Batum (13.6 PPG) led all scorers with 22 points, continuing his hot play of late. Batum has 22.8 PPG on 53% FG in his past four games, all starts. He also scored 25 in his team’s last road game with the Lakers last March. PG Raymond Felton (10.1 PPG, 6.4 APG) bounced back from a scoreless (0-for-7 FG) Thursday night against the Clippers and scored 14 points with eight assists against the Hawks. His career numbers versus the Lakers are pretty solid (15.2 PPG, 6.6 APG), but he shot only 3-of-14 FG in the last meeting on Jan. 5, a 107-96 Blazers home win. Speaking of that last meeting, Gerald Wallace (13.8 PPG) tallied a season-high 31 points in that win. But Wallace has struggled on the road this year with just 9.8 PPG on 38.5% FG (25.9% 3-pt FG).

Kobe Bryant (NBA-high 29.0 PPG) vented his frustration after Sunday’s 102-90 loss in Phoenix, a game in which his team trailed by 27 points in the third quarter. Bryant turned the ball over 10 times in the defeat, but still finished with 32 points, seven boards and five assists. PF Pau Gasol (16.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG) posted his ninth straight double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) in the loss, as he has been able to overcome the distractions of swirling trade rumors (which Bryant disapproves of) to average 17.4 PPG and 13.7 RPG in this nine-game span. Gasol averages 17.1 PPG and 9.0 RPG in 36 career meetings with Portland. C Andrew Bynum (16.3 PPG, 12.5 RPG) has double-doubles in eight of his past 10 games, averaging 16.4 PPG and 13.1 RPG during this span.




NBA Draft Wrap 2010
2010-07-06

Games are never won Apuestas Deportivas Golf Betting Online Bingo Sportsbook Madden Betting Pandemonia on paper, but immediately after last night’s draft there appear to be some definite winners and losers. Despite all the prognostications, drafting is one of the most inexact sciences in sports, especially as different players mature at different rates. Potential is one of the greatest, and riskiest, factors considered by NBA teams. With that, here are the preliminary impressions of last night’s draft.


Winners


Detroit Pistons- The Pistons were extremely lucky to have Greg Monroe fall to them with the seventh pick of the draft. He was expected to go higher and fits Detroit’s low-post need; expect to see Monroe contribute from the beginning. Drafting Terrico White with the 36th pick is another flat-out steal; White may have been the best athlete in the draft. Although guard is not a huge need for the Pistons, his development could make the aging Richard Hamilton expendable.


Los Angeles Clippers- The Clippers filled their two biggest needs: small forward and backup point guard. Al-Farouq Aminu has star potential and should be an integral part of LA’s young nucleus at small forward. With Baron Davis not getting any younger, it was very savvy for the Clippers to acquire Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe was overshadowed by John Wall at Kentucky last year and may turn out to be one of the draft’s better sleepers. Learning from Davis will season him even more. As if this draft couldn’t get any better, the Clippers landed Willie Warren, once considered a top 10 talent, with the 54th overall pick. If Warren is able to undergo an attitude adjustment, he could be a big contributor at the NBA level.


Oklahoma City Thunder- The NBA’s team of the future entered the draft knowing it needed to fortify the post. They did exactly that, trading to get Cole Aldrich. Aldrich is a physical presence capable of playing both post positions and may finally be the one to close OKC’s revolving door at center. GM Sam Presti also shrewdly dealt Eric Bledsoe for a future first round pick from the Clippers. Bledsoe is a good player but the Clippers are unlikely to get out of the lottery in the near future, virtually assuring OKC of a high pick.


Losers


Golden State Warriors- Drafting Ekpe Udoh sixth overall was a reach, to say the least. The Warriors were seduced by Udoh’s athleticism and workouts and ignored the fact that, even at 23 years old, he is still very raw. Some point to Udoh’s two pedestrian seasons at Michigan and wonder if his one successful year at Baylor was a byproduct of their system. Even more befuddling is the fact that Golden State has two other players in Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph who are essentially the same: athletic small forwards who need seasoning. This was a misdirected pick and the Warriors should have targeted Greg Monroe.


New York Knicks- The Knicks spent both their second round picks on players—Andy Rautins and Landry Fields—who some didn’t even expected to be drafted. They could both be serviceable NBA role players, but the Knicks’ thinking is confusing because the players are so similar. These picks were obviously made with the intent of surrounding LeBron James with shooters but if he signs elsewhere, this thinking looks even more misguided.


Could Go Either Way


Sacramento Kings- On the surface, one would think the Kings had a tremendous draft. Some thought DeMarcus Cousins had the talent to go number one overall and corralling him at five was fortuitous. The same goes for Hassan Whiteside, who slipped to 33 after once being regarded as a lottery pick. However, drafting both of them together may pose some problems. Both saw their stock drop due to questionable attitudes and they play the same position, creating a potential logjam at center along with Samuel Dalembert, who will command minutes in a contract year. There is no doubting the talent but the Kings will need to have a coach capable of developing chemistry and fostering maturity in these players, especially when minutes may be scarce.


Indiana Pacers- GM Larry Bird eschewed his tradition of taking proven college players by making some risky picks. Paul George has tremendous upside but can be turnover prone and lack motivation. Perhaps the biggest question is how he’ll play with superstar Danny Granger, who has a very similar style. Magnum Rolle brings length and athleticism and Lance Stephenson has tremendous upside and was a great value pick in the second round. However, Stephenson’s attitude is widely questioned and if he doesn’t mature, he could harm team chemistry.


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NBA: San Antonio-Phoenix Series Betting Preview
2010-05-03

This past weekend we heard a great deal about how Boston and Cleveland don’t really like each other. While this information is certainly true it pales in comparison to how Phoenix and San Antonio feel about one another. That is Microsoft and Apple doing battle, this is the real deal like Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonald’s vs. Burger King, Jennifer Aniston vs. Angelina Jolie. What’s more the Suns have been bounced out of the playoffs four times by the team from southwest Texas since 2003. This is going to be war. Sportsbook.com provided the series odds, installing the Suns as -145 favorites. Let’s take a look at the matchup.

Steve Nash did not practice the previous two days before this Western Conference semi-final opened, resting his sore right hip. The most obvious question was it a reoccurrence of the infamous hip check former Spur Robert Horry laid on Nash or something completely different.

The Suns have had the home court advantage over San Antonio the last two times these teams have met in the postseason and came up short. They believe this time will be different, not being strictly a running team and being able to play defense for extended periods of time.

"It's like super-transition `D' against these guys," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "They're really playing well, and the best shooting team ever, basically, from 3. Great chemistry, sharing the ball, playing 'D'. Alvin (Coach Gentry) and his group have done a great job. The players have really bought in, and they do a lot of things really well."

Phoenix will have to use similar formula that allowed them to win four of last five games against Portland. Running a controlled break which leads to layups or find spot up shooters like Jason Richardson and rain down three’s.

The Suns also received bench contributions from a number of players from Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley to Channing Frye and others. The Suns are 26-7 and 23-9-1 ATS since Feb. 19 (have not lost two straight since Jan. 25-26) and this streak coincided when they collectively bought into Gentry’s preaching about team defense and Amare Stoudemire deciding he wanted to be one of the best players in the NBA. Stoudemire loves to see the Spurs coming with 24.6-point playoff average against them (28.8 PPG if rookie season is dropped) and he posted 32.7 points and 11.3 rebounds on San Antonio this season.

Grant Hill might be 37, but he missed so much time over a five year period of his career, his legs are that of a much younger player and he is the Suns best defender. Whether he starts on Manu Ginibili is immaterial, since eventually he will make his way over to him defensively.

Though both teams have many new faces, Nash knows what to expect and believes the series will come down to "the usual suspects." For San Antonio that is Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili, especially right now.

Duncan has slowed from his early days, but he is still a crafty veteran and the Suns don’t have that big physical guy that could create more problems for Duncan even if Robin Lopez returns. Duncan should expect to see several combo defenses and will have to find shooters and cutters when the Suns double him.

Parker has accepted his role off the bench, still seeing ample minutes as George Hill takes over as true point guard. This allows Parker to freelance more without the ball and forces defenders to chase.

If it were not for Hill and Ginobili, a reasonable argument could be made the Spurs might not have made the playoffs when Parker was injured. The Argentinean has done everything, scoring literally anywhere on the floor and became the emotional leader. He is the one player in this series that could single-handedly win a game or two by himself.

Richard Jefferson could play a prominent role in this noteworthy conflict. The former Net and Buck didn’t have much of an impact during the regular season, but after being a non-factor in Game 1 loss to Dallas, the rest of the series he was steady contributor and if he can keep the Suns J-Rich busy on defense, it’s shown his point production diminishes.

Most of the confrontations in this series are expected to have totals of 200 or higher and Popovich’s teams are 53-36 ATS when the number is 200 or higher.

This series really comes down to a test of wills. Can Phoenix keep their poise and not let a few Spurs antics get to them? In the past San Antonio had a size edge over the Suns, they do not this time, will that be a burden? This has the look and feel of seven games and even that might not be enough for regulation play. As long as Nash is healthy, the Suns should finally knock off their nemesis like they did in the regular season (2-1 and 3-0 ATS), however it won’t be easy.

Pick- Phoenix (-145) in seven over San Antonio (+115)


NBA: Chicago is bullish on road trip
2010-01-29

The Chicago Bulls’ season-high seven-game road trip had all the makings of a disaster after they opened with losses to a pair of Western Conference also-rans. Four games later, it’s looking like the spark that’s turned the season around. The Bulls try to close the trip with a fifth straight win Friday night against the New Orleans Hornets, who look to protect one of the West’s best home records upon returning from their own successful road swing. The Hornets are the 4-point favorite at Sportsbook.com, but 70% of bettors prefer the piping-hot Bulls.

Chicago (22-22, 21-21-2 ATS) has won four in a row for the third time since Christmas, but this latest run is easily the most surprising. The Bulls were 4-15 on the road after losses to Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers to open this trip, but they’ve knocked off four consecutive playoff contenders.

Coach Vinny Del Negro (who was rumored to be almost fired right after Christmas) has seen his team shoot 50.6 percent from the floor while holding opponents to 39.4 percent, and its most impressive defensive effort came Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Chicago limited the Thunder to 36.9 percent shooting, hounding Kevin Durant into a 7-for-19 effort and leaving with a 96-86 win. The Bulls win made them 7-0 ATS in road games playing against team with a 51 to 60 percent win percentage this season and tonight offers another such opportunity.

Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas keyed a 96-85 win over New Orleans (25-20, 22-23 ATS) on Dec. 26 at the United Center. Noah had 17 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks, while Thomas had 21 points and nine boards off the bench. Chicago, which has followed its previous four-game win streaks with at least two straight losses, hasn’t won five in a row on the road since concluding the 2005-06 season on a six-game run. The Bulls are 17-6 ATS playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last two years.

The Hornets have won 16 of 20 at home (10-10 ATS), where they return following an impressive trip. New Orleans closed with a third victory in four games - its only loss coming in overtime to Denver on Saturday - after Chris Paul had 38 points in a 123-110 win over Golden State on Wednesday. The Hornets were 6-15 and 9-12 ATS on the road heading into the trip. “This was a big trip for us. We won in some tough venues,” said Paul, who averaged 27.8 points on 58.8 percent shooting. “Everyone knows the road has been our Achilles’ heel so far.”

The play of Paul’s new backcourt mate has also been critical. Rookie Marcus Thornton averaged 18.5 points in the final two games of the trip, starting after New Orleans shipped Devin Brown to the Bulls for backup center Aaron Gray on Monday. Brown, who has yet to play for the Bulls, led New Orleans with 22 points in Chicago last month.

The Hornets’ fortunes Friday, though, may depend on David West. The two-time All-Star, scoring 17.7 points per game, has averaged 11.0 in the last two losses to the Bulls and his team is 3-5 in last eight meetings with the Bulls with two covers.

New Orleans is a four-point favorite with total of 198 at Sportsbook.com and is 24-9 ATS in home games revenging a same season loss vs. opponent and is 8-1 UNDER at home trying to get even with same team off a road loss. Despite the four consecutive road upsets, normally Chicago doesn’t set up very well in a spot like this with 12-26 ATS record off an upset win as an underdog over the last three seasons. They are 9-0 OVER as visiting dogs off the upset surprise win by 10 points or more.