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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.




March Madness Bracket
2015-02-15

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2013-01-30




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 he Apuestas UFC fashion motorcycle boots Handmade Costa Rica ading 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 Western Conference Finals Betting Preview
2010-05-17

Talking to a number of various wise guy bettors living in Las Vegas, one conclusion was evident before the playoffs started, yes the Los Angeles Lakers looked vulnerable but were still the safest bet to win another title and the Phoenix Suns were the best long shot among the top four seeds from either conference to become the upset champions of the NBA. Not coincidentally, that is the matchup for the West Finals, which begin Monday in Los Angeles. The Lakers are a -340 series favorite according to Sportsbook.com.

One aspect that is often forgotten in the NBA playoffs is how very good teams can pick up momentum. The Lakers closed the regular season 4-7 SU and ATS, and stumbled a bit in the first round vs. Oklahoma City. However, since then, L.A. has gotten serious about basketball again and has won six straight, covering five times and now another championship ring is in sight.

There is no getting around it (literally), the size of the Lakers’ changes how teams can attack them. With Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, it just doesn’t leave much room in the middle, which helps takes away the one inside player the Suns have in Amare Stoudemire.

L.A. guards and wing players can be super aggressive defensively, knowing what they have behind them. Ron Artest is not the defender he was a few years ago, but what he’s lost in quickness he makes up for in smarts and he will try to attach himself at the hip of Jason Richardson or Jared Dudley when he enters the game.

Phoenix has picked up a reputation as being a good defensive team, while they are not as lame as when Mike D’Antoni was coach; they are far from good, mostly just average. With the talk of Grant Hill being a defensive demon, that’s all Kobe Bryant needs for a personal challenge.

Remember last year when Denver had all those high effort guys coming off the bench and they actually gave Phil Jackson’s team trouble at first, yet after Game 3 had little impact, that’s what the Lakers do as the series wears on, systematically they take away your strengths and even Derek Fisher becomes more useful knocking down shots. There is a reason why the Lake Show is 5-1 and 4-2 ATS against the Suns at Staples the past three years, they are bigger and better and hard to beat four times.

Since Steve Nash has arrived in the desert with his injury-plagued career in the balance, all he has done is transform Phoenix into the most entertaining team in the NBA and a outfit that has been among the better groups out West. Be that as it may, the window of opportunity is closing and the sense is the entire club and organization knows it.

That creates the first chance for the Suns, desperation, hardly something the Lakers ever feel and when they do, usually nothing good comes from it. (Game 6 Lakers at Boston two years ago comes to mind) Phoenix has to be able to leave it all on the floor each night, no Game 1 or Game 4’s against Portland “we just weren’t focused” nights. You only get once chance to beat a champion and if you let it slip, look in the mirror.

Coach Alvin Gentry is credited for making Phoenix a more complete squad than past versions, with greater attention to detail on both ends of the floor. Steve Nash should be able to run circles around Derek Fisher, but his key is drawing the defense to him to make the assist and frustrate the Lakers big men.

Coach Jackson will try to prevent dibble penetration by Nash and make him more a shooter than facilitator, Nash has to defeat this defense by using the screen and role continually with Stoudemire. If successful, this forces other defenders to get involved and the NBA’s best outside shooting team will find itself with many more open looks.

Phoenix can’t let the Lakers play volleyball on the offensive glass; they have to at least be within five boards at all times once the second half starts.

Gentry’s bench has been a difference maker, which is why this desert squad is 22-4 and 19-6-1 ATS since Mar. 14.

It goes without saying Phoenix has to run, but as they proved against San Antonio, it’s not about running and dunking for layups, it is about beating the Lakers defense back and making the extra pass to find the three-point shooter who is open to bury the shot and wear down the big guys in gold and purple late in games.

As is said in boxing, “contrasting styles make fights”. That will be the case out West, with the Lakers trying to control tempo and have their size be a difference maker, while Phoenix wants to play fast, hit 3’s and make enough defensive stops to matter.

At the end of the day, the Lakers having a long break before the series, another lengthy break before heading to Arizona, gives them rest and ample time to make adjustments, which makes them awfully difficult to beat unless the opponent plays great defense.

Pick- L.A. Lakers (-340) in seven over Phoenix (+280)