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Ball Don't Lie
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.
"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.
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Kentucky Derby week is one of the most thrilling times of the year. This race is known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" for its approximate time length.
Check 2015 KY Derby Schedule May 1 and 24 at Sportsbook.com
Odds to Win 2015 Kentucky Derby
NBA: LA Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks betting preview
All good things must come to an end, and the Lakers’ perfect start was no exception as they suffered back-to-back losses before heading 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.