With the NBA’s all-star weekend just 10 days away, each team around the league is approaching (or has reached) 30 games played, making for a pretty strong sample size to examine ATS statistics. Here’s a look at the teams that have been the best and worst at covering the spread through the first portion of the season.
While both Sunday and Monday feature fairly small NBA betting slates of six games apiece, there are still some key matchups to kick off the upcoming week. It starts out East Sunday with the Eastern Conference’s top two teams facing difficult road tests.
Looking ahead to this upcoming week’s action, no game is bigger than Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat in Miami.
I’m not a basketball fan, most of you know this by now. Don’t hate it or anything, it just isn’t my thing.
But March Madness hits me. The college game is intense, and what’s not to love about brackets?
Hell, I even created the Facebook Group “Brackets RULE!” back in 2007, pointing out that ANYTHING is awesome when brackets are involved:
Besides, you lose a ton of man points if you don’t fill out a bracket. And with my very public love for Kelly Clarkson, it’s not like I have plenty of extras lying around to lose.
So here goes nothing. Part five months of researching and writing college basketball articles, part instinct, mostly wild guesses. Behold; Dave’s bracket.
Generally speaking, I am extremely interested in March Madness until my bracket is busted. Which could happen as soon as tomorrow with my Michigan State pick. So if the Spartans lose to UCLA tomorrow, don’t come up to me later and ask “hey, did you see that game between _____ and _____ ?!?”
Spoiler Alert: I didn’t.
Good luck and happy bracket season to everyone!
I’ve come to terms with the fact that there is a whole lot of stupidity out there in the world, and plenty of it is abundantly apparent in the world of sports journalism and opinion. Every day I hear or read some awful columnist or fan spouting off some mindless nonsense that makes me shake my head. But as it turns out, I still have a threshold of how much stupidity I can shrug off.
I woke up Wednesday morning to find that the twitter universe was abuzz about some comments made by Skip Bayless. Bayless called Cliff Lee “LeBron Lee”, claiming that they were essentially one in the same, because Lee shunned the Rangers and Yankees because he didn’t want to be “the guy”, choosing instead to join a loaded staff. Here is the video:
Alright then. This in and of itself isn’t newsworthy; Skip Bayless is a tool that has on countless occasions made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about. He has made a career out of being the bad guy/idiot/pot stirrer. I assumed this was him just doing what he does.
But as the day went on, I came to find that others actually share his opinion. Tons of fans are making the comparison, and it is popping up in multiple sports articles. Search “Cliff Lee Lebron James” on Google News to see for yourself. Bayless isn’t alone here; people actually think that Cliff Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies is like LeBron James’ decision to sign with the Heat.
And that is unbelievably, amazingly, and incredibly stupid.
Let’s recap the main reasons why LeBron James has been vilified for his decision to join the Miami Heat.
1. He betrayed the city of Cleveland, in which he was born and raised and spent his entire career.
2. He betrayed Cavaliers fans, as he was the face of the franchise and promised he’d bring a championship to Cleveland.
3. He announced his decision with a huge egotistical ESPN show titled “The Decision”.
4. He chose to be a part of a great team instead of being “the guy”.
LeBron James was born in Akron, Ohio, just about 35 miles outside of Cleveland. He went to high school at St. Vincent – St. Mary High in Akron, and was drafted first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers straight out of high school. It was a great story, as he was an Ohio boy through and through; he was born and raised in the Cleveland area, and spent his adulthood as a professional there as well.
From 2003-04 to 2009-10, LeBron James spent seven years with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was a star right from the get go, and was the face of the franchise for his entire career with the Cavs. He essentially guaranteed he’d bring a championship home to Cleveland, stating “I got a goal, and it’s a huge goal, and that’s to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland, and I won’t stop until I get it.” So when he left, he was abandoning the city and all Cavaliers fans.
This is the main reason why there is so much resentment towards him. Great free agents come and go every year; but franchise players born and raised in your own backyard? That’s the heartbreak.
Cliff Lee was born in Benton, Arkansas, where he also played his high school ball. He went to college at the University of Arkansas, where he was chosen in the 4th round by the Montreal Expos in the 2000 amateur draft. In 2002, he pitched for Double-A Harrisburg (in Pennsylvania). He was traded to the Cleveland Indians that year, and pitched in their minor league system in Buffalo before receiving a call-up.
Lee was an average starter for Cleveland from 2004-2006. In 2007, a groin strain caused Lee to start the season on the DL, and when he returned to the rotation he had the worst season of his career, eventually being removed from the rotation and sent back down to Buffalo. It all came together for Lee during that rehab stint, as he returned in 2008 with much better control of his fast ball, and had an outstanding year.
In 2009, Lee was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. In the offseason, Philadelphia traded Lee to Seattle. During the 2010 season, Lee was traded to the Texas Rangers.
So Quick Recap –
James: Born and raised in Ohio, drafted first overall to Cleveland, elite NBA player for seven seasons all with hometown Cleveland.
Lee: Born and raised in Arkansas, drafted in the fourth round, took a while to develop into an elite player, plated for four different teams over the last two seasons, none his hometown.
Alright then, I’d say that rules out BETRAYAL (points one and two), which to my understanding is the main reason LeBron James is so hated in Cleveland.
Of course, betrayal isn’t villainous enough without creating a huge self-indulging spectacle on live TV, is it? “Surely, he must be staying in Cleveland, he wouldn’t do it this way if he weren’t” said many unsuspecting Cavaliers fans. Oops; looks like he would.
Cliff Lee? Stayed quiet, had his agent negotiate a contract for him at the place he wanted to play, and signed. Again, no comparison. So that brings us to the ONLY comparable element between the two signings…
Joining a Super-Team
LeBron James joined a team of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to create a super team. Cliff Lee joined Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels to create a super staff. Yay, we’ve finally found the comparison.
Only a few slight differences.
All three of Wade, Bosh, and James were free agents. They collaborated, decided it would be awesome to play together, and agreed to all sign in Miami to be a super team, thus making up 3/5 of the Heats’ starting roster.
As for Lee, he didn’t collaborate with anyone. It was just him deciding where he wanted to play. If the criteria of this flimsy/lame argument that Lee = LeBron is based on Lee signing with a great team, couldn’t you have made this argument if he signed just about ANYWHERE but Texas?
NY YANKEES: “He’s joining CC Sabathia, an old friend from their Cleveland days (just like Bosh and Wade and James are friends) to create a super 1-2 punch with one of the best offenses in baseball on the team that ALWAYS gets all the best players. Lee = LeBron.
BOSTON RED SOX: “Oh my God they already got Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford! Now Lee too? And with Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Clay Buchholz? This team is STACKED! Lee = LeBron
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: “No way! They already had the best staff last year! Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, now Lee too?!? What a crazy five-man staff, just like the Heat! Lee = LeBron.
I mean wow. Sure, it would have been a feel good story had he stayed in Texas, but what the hell did he owe them? He didn’t ask to be traded to the Rangers. He didn’t make them any promises. Lee isn’t “abandoning” the Texas Rangers; they knew damn well that they were trading for a free-agent-to-be, and made the trade anyway.
Cliff Lee weighed his options, decided he wanted to play in Philadelphia and that playing there gave him a good chance to win a World Series (or many), so he signed there. Don’t dozens of free agents sign somewhere where they feel they can compete for a World Series every year?
If you mean to tell me that the ONLY criteria for being compared to LeBron James is that you are a great player that signs with a talented team, then over the four major sports, I’d say there are about 5-10 LeBron Jameses every season.
It is an overwhelmingly idiotic comparison. Stop making it.
Robert Horry has been known to make clutch plays at the end of the game. He always seems to bury the shot when it matters.
This time, he buried his shoulder into an unsuspecting Steve Nash.
And it turned out to be amply rewarding.
I certainly won’t be the first or last person to blog about this.
Robert Horry (who average 3.9 points per game this season… note the dot. Not 39 points. 3 POINT 9) was suspended for two games for his blatant cheap shot. He was clearly frustrated and clearly intended to injure.
Boris Diaw (9.7 PPG), who was the closest player to the shot, charged after Horry. Amare Stoudemire (20.4 PPG) jumped off the bench in disgust and started walking briskly towards Horry, but he was held back.
ALL THREE OF THEM HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED.
This is one of the biggest shams I have ever seen in my entire life. I can not be professional about this. Every positive thing I have said about how David Stern runs his league, I take back. This is a complete and utter joke.
Diaw did exactly what anyone – ANYONE – would have done in that situation. If you have any sense of camaraderie or friendship, you can understand how you would respond if your team captain was maliciously slammed to the ground.
And Stoudemire didn’t even get to Horry!
“This is a very unfortunate circumstance. No one here at the league office wants to suspend players any game, much less a pivotal game in the second round of a playoff series. But the rule, however, is the rule, and we intend to apply it consistently,” said NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson.
The rule, of course, refers to “leaving the immediate vicinity of the bench”.
A bench player (Horry) takes a ridiculous cheapshot (obviously called a flagrant foul) on the team’s leader and MVP, Steve Nash, who has already had his nose cut open and been kneed in this series. A starter (Diaw) jumps in to defend his teammate. Another starter (Stoudemire, who happens to completely change the dynamics of a game when he is involved) reacts out of emotion and jumps up and heads towards the offender. Both starters are suspended.
San Antonio now has a very good chance to beat the depleted Suns in game 5, and go on to win the series.
The response from the league? Rules are rules, and no exceptions can be made.
This entire situation completely disgusts me. I’ve lost what little respect I had for basketball, and I can’t even begin to imagine what Phoenix Suns fans must be feeling right now.
NOT MAKING AN EXCEPTION AND PENALIZING THE SUNS SENDS THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE: When you need a boost in a best of 7 series, send in your worst bench player; hell, even sign a thug off of the streets. Right in the key next to the opposing bench, take their best player by the shoulders and kick him squarely in the groin. When he keels over, punch him in the jaw and send him down to the floor, than turn to the opposing team, flick them off, and say “What are you going to do about it?” They all spring up and attack; and they are all suspended in the next game.
Right? I mean after all, according to Bulls’ coach Scott Skiles;
“A rule is a rule, and in the past handful of years since they put that in, there have been I think less than five, maybe less than three, but there have been a couple occasions where someone just put one foot on the floor and got suspended. So if you’re going to have a hard and fast rule like that, I think you’ve got to abide by it, and you can’t make any exceptions.”
Basketball teams should start hiring enforcers like hockey has. Go ahead and attack the Kobes, LeBrons, and Nashs of the league. If anyone dares step up and defend them, they’ll be suspended for it.
What a disgrace.
Lets go over the FACTS of these NBA playoffs. Not predictions. Go back and read anything anyone wrote. 99% agree on these simple facts.
Detroit Pistons will win the East.
Mavs, Suns, Spurs, Rockets move on to the second round.
Mavs face the Rockets and win.
Suns/Spurs play a great series. Winner of that series plays the Mavs.
Winner of the Mavs VS. Suns/Spurs series beats the Pistons.
World Champion crowned.
Well, the Pistons, Suns, and Spurs have held up their end of the deal. Give the Spurs the most credit, as they had to fight off a pretty pesky Denver Nuggets team to get to where they are now. But, granted, now they play the Suns; and worry about the Mavs later.
Wait a second.
Golden State Warriors VS. Utah Jazz?
I’m sorry, what?
Isn’t this the West? Where big men dominate? Where dominating inside the key is the only way to succeed? Where Shaq and Duncan won so many championships doing exactly that?
Why is Yao Ming at home?
And why, oh why, even if they ARE a perimeter team, are the Dallas Mavericks golfing in the first week of May?
It isn’t THAT crazy that you can’t say that the winner of the Spurs/Suns series is going to win it all with any amount of confidence.
What is crazy about it, however, is that the Jazz and the Warriors might actually be scarier than the Mavericks and Rockets. Not just because they beat them, but because they play a style of basketball that when clicking and when hot; there just really isn’t much of a way to stop.
Hats off to you, NBA. The country’s most predictable sport has thrown two huge curve balls early in these playoffs. Suns/Spurs VS. Jazz/Warriors can’t just be chalked up as a 5 game series anymore. The underdogs are actually showing up to play, and for probably the first time in basketball history, I’d say the NBA’s first round was madder than the NCAA’s.
May Madness, anyone?
Dirk doesn’t deserve MVP!
So what that he dominates the regular season! True MVP’s step up in the playoffs, too, and this guy is nothing but a big-time no show!
If only he would have held true to those whispers for one more night. The Golden State Warriors would be moving on to the next round of the NBA playoffs.
I’ll be honest. Since they completely embarrassed my pride and exposed me as the basketball knowledge-less fool that I am, I’ve stopped rooting for Dallas and have done what any neutral sports fan would do in this situation; root for the underdog.
And so, when Golden State took a 9 point lead with very little time left in the game, I was pretty excited. The underdog was going to win, and the behemoth Dallas team would fall; leaving my pre-season bet of Phoenix Suns to win it all in great shape.
Dirk casually strolled up the court and drained a 3-pointer. He didn’t look to anyone else. He just got the ball, picked his spot, and nailed it. Lead cut to 6.
The Warriors ran the clock down as much as they could and then put up a bad shot. Mavs got the rebound. Got the ball to Dirk. Calmly, effortlessly, like it was shooting practice, Dirk picked his spot from 3-point land once again, and drained it. Lead cut to 3.
After the lead was cut to 1, Golden State began to panic, and turned the ball over. Dallas put the nail in the coffin; and guess who it was attacking the basket to draw the foul to put the Mavs up for good?
For a guy that was beginning to challenge Marty Turco for his spot as biggest choke-artist in Dallas come playoff time, Dirk certainly didn’t play like a choke; he played like an MVP.
Now, Golden State needs to win Game 6 at home. If they don’t, there just isn’t any way they are going back to Dallas and winning Game 7 there. So if the Warriors look up at the scoreboard at the end of Game 6 and see a higher number under DALLAS on the jumbotron, they’ll have to shake their heads in disgust at the 9 point lead they gave away.
The give away that was about 25% their fault for bad shot selection and lackluster defense…
and the take away that was 75% Dirk Nowitzki.
Listen, Dallas Mavericks –
You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Don’t mean any disrespect to Golden State, they’ve played some excellent basketball. And they’ve done exactly what an upset team has got to do; steal one on the road and then win your home games.
They are 75% of the way there.
Dallas lost 15 games this year. 15. Of 82.
They started the season off cold and dropped their first 4 games. They also lost 4 of their 10 games in April, seeing as they were already in cruise control, having the West locked up. They were using their key players sparingly in these games.
In the stretch after their opening 4 losses (which can be attributed to a slow start) and before the month of April (which can be attributed to resting players), Dallas lost only 7 games… out of
61 wins. 7 losses.
During that span, they had streaks of 12 wins, 13 wins, and 17 wins. Yes. Separate streaks.
There is a word for a team like the Dallas Mavericks. DOMINANT.
Mark Cuban has done an excellent job putting together the best team in the league. The fans have done an excellent job supporting it. They blew it last year in the playoffs and have waited all year for the chance to redeem themselves.
And this is how they show it.
I know that I gave Golden State no respect. Of course, I don’t know basketball, so that wasn’t that big of a deal. But it isn’t like I was alone. Find me people that with a serious expression on their face picked this to go past 6 games.
What’s pathetic, though, is that whether or not the general public respected the Warriors or not, you KNEW the Mavericks would. After all, any team that beats you all 3 times they play you, and is responsible for a whopping 20% of your total losses on the season, is going to get your best effort.
So, I’m to understand that the best team in the NBA’s best effort is THIS. I’ve actually watched large chunks of this series, and I’ll be damned if this is the best team in the NBA. This team has been flat out pathetic on defense. I can’t believe this team dominated during the regular season. Any team capable of playing this poorly on the grandest stage of all should not have been the clear best in the NBA.
Is Dallas going to lose this series? All comes down to game 6. I can’t see them losing game 5 (well, I certainly CAN, but I mean honestly, they’d BETTER not for the sake of everyone’s sanity). Game 7 in Dallas is another game they simply don’t drop.
Game 6 in Golden State? Can’t say a Warriors victory would even make me raise an eyebrow.
Congratulations, Golden State. I want to reiterate that I mean them no disrespect. Even if they drop the next 3 games in the series, just what they have done already is more than enough to respect and build on over the next few years.
Shame on you, Dallas. If this is how you thank your fans for all of their support, and this is how you show them that you won’t disappoint them again this season, then I’d consider them some of the unluckiest fans in America.
This coming from an Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Kings fan.
Here’s what I’m NOT going to do; read a bunch of “expert” series picks, and then reword their predictions as if they were my own, when I really have no idea about the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
Plenty of fools already do that for you. I pity the fools. That’s right, Mr. T. You have a problem with that?
Here is what I can tell you from my limited basketball knowledge (and this isn’t going to be all that shocking or original, either…); The Mavericks and the Suns are really, really good.
And the Spurs and Pistons aren’t half bad either. Especially when the playoffs roll around.
In the end, it will be one of those 4 teams. There really isn’t any magic in the NBA, because the best teams are simply tiers above the rest. You don’t get wild card teams going all the way like in baseball or football, and you don’t get 8-seeds going to the finals like you do in hockey.
The Rockets have no chance. If they beat the Jazz, they face off against the Mavericks next. Then, miraculously, they win that series, they face off against the Suns. 2 miracles later, you play the best of the East, which despite the fact that its a joke of a conference as far as depth is concerned, its got a few decent teams in it that could conceivably beat whatever beat-up team comes out of the West.
It’ll be the Pistons out of the East. If anyone beats them, it’ll be the Cavs or the Bulls. But I don’t think that is going to happen.
It’ll be the Mavs out of the West. Anyone picking Golden State in this series is a bigger joke then I was for picking the Wild over the Ducks. Seriously, get over it Golden State fans. You are going to lose this series in 5 games maximum.
My radio show co-host Brandon Marcus said to me “I hope the Mavericks lose that series so I can give you heat for it”. I’d like ALL of you to give me heat for it. Go ahead. If the series goes to SIX, make my life a living hell.
All that said, if anyone will actually beat the Mavericks, it’ll be the Suns. When these two teams face off, it’ll be a playoff basketball series I’ll actually watch; and that is saying something. I don’t think the Spurs have what it takes to keep up with either of these teams this year; but time will tell.
So, Mavs/Suns over Pistons in the finals. Shocking. Don’t think anyone has ever made this prediction, have they? I feel so original.
For the record, I bet the Phoenix Suns 1 Unit to win 6 Units at the beginning of the year. Now they are bet 1 to win 2. Go Suns!