The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Week 3

 

This week’s good teams are maybe not so good record wise, but had a great week and do a great job ATS wise, most of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

The Good

 

Portland Trailblazers

 First place this week for one simple reason. The only team that won 4 games this week.
They won all games they should have won (the lowest line they got was +2.5), but still, as giant killers that I will write about next, it’s not easy to win as a favorite. 
To make things harder, three out of the four wins, were made without Nicolas Batum. He is the glue of this team, being second in rebounds, second in assists, first in steals and best defender on the team. 
Portland has absolutely terrible bench. After Kaman that scores 10 points on average, the next player scores 5 points a game average.
If last year, 4 out of 5 starters in Portland, played 82 games (didn’t miss even one game), Batum missing 3 games and Portland still winning in all three means a lot to the Trailblazers and Stotts ability to keep his starters fresh and healthy come playoff time.
All in all, 4 wins, three of them by double digits and the one more by 2 points only, but after coming back from trailing 23 points.
They didn’t beat any contender, but Denver on the road, Charlotte at home and Brooklyn are all potential mines (just ask Phoenix who lost to Charlotte). 
This week Portland play two more home games, against NO and Chicago, both another potential mines and if Portland will win them both, they will start to remind last year’s start of the season.

I was thinking long about who will make second place and who third and here are the winners:

Milwaukee Bucks

I wrote many times that Bucks are my sleeper team in the East and so far, they are proving me right. Don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I feel pretty good about my Over 24 wins this season bet.
So why Bucks? Milwaukee played three games this week, winning two and losing one and that joins to the win over Memphis, that was the last perfect team in the league at the time.
Home win over contender, road win in Miami and doing what’s needed against Oklahoma at home – they really deserve a praise for that. To have 3 – 1 record, in a stretch, where they been dogs in 3 out of 4 games, that’s something not easy to accomplish.
Knight is surging as top point guard and Kidd does just amazing work with him. Knight hits winning shots, runs the team and feels very comfortable. 18.3 points average (45% from the field and 40% from behind the arc), 6 rebounds per game, 6 assists per game – all those numbers (including percentage) are his best numbers of the career so far. 
It’s amazing that second place scoring wise scores only 11.7 points and that the two scorers after him, score 11.1 and 10.6 points. Greek Freak has 11.7 points, together 5.5 assists. 
It’s interesting that Giannis is second year player, Jabari, rookie, is in the fourth place with 10.6 points and Middleton, third year player with 9.7 points- this team is young, talented and most important – very balanced.
On top of that, Bucks allow their rivals only 92.6 points per game (third in the league) and opponents score their 92.6 points shooting only 41.8% from the field (fourth best defensive rating in the league).
On a side note, Kidd now has 5 – 0 record against the Heat as head coach in regular season. 
5 – 5 for the season, great week and I think they can fight for the playoffs.

Orlando/ Indiana

It will be very rare (hopefully one time thing) to have 4 teams in any of the sections, since it takes the point out of it, but this week, I couldn’t resist.
Pacers suck. I think everyone can agree to that. But, before this week, they were 1 – 6 and after this week they are 4 – 7. 3 – 1 week, including two road wins in Miami and Chicago, as 8.5 and 9 points dogs…
The two games they struggled the most, were two home games as favorites, barely winning Utah and losing to Denver.
Still, it gets kind of sad, when we look at team’s leading scorers. Copeland leading scorer with 14.2 points and already played more minutes this season, than the whole previous season (!). He also quadrupled his point average.
AJ Price is third (after Hibbert who is second) with 13 points and was picked up off the waivers as injury exception. Last season, with the “mighty” Wolves, he scored 1.6 points per game and in 6 games he played for the Pacers, he already played almost twice as much as in the whole season combined last year. 
Solomon Hill went from 1.7 points last season to being fourth best scorers with 12.6 points and Sloan scores the same average and averaged last season 2.3 points.
It’s sad, but also, that makes a week like that, a lot more special and you can see that tradition and organization can help a lot, even when your team suddenly not near where it was the last three years.
Orlando was actually my candidate to be the top team of the week, but slipped all the way to third place, because just like the Pacers, they aren’t going anywhere.
Still, 6 ATS wins in a row, 3 – 3 record (this week 2 – 3), win in New York and at home, against the Bucks and almost won both in Toronto (lead by 11 points in the start of the fourth quarter) and in Brooklyn (lead at halftime).
They are really under the radar, but they are young, hungry, very good locker room atmosphere and great combo between youngsters and veterans. 
I have to point out Victor Oladipo, last year’s draft pick, that started the season injured, but played the last two games and shown why Orlando gave up on Afflalo to give him minutes (and took Fornier in exchange who averages 17.6 points per game, shooting 51% from behind the arc).
Only two games, but 15.5 points, 5 rebound and 4.5 assists and he is an above average defender. The whole package.
It’s really fun to watch Magic’s games and it’s a team that is easy to root for.

The Bad

Miami Heat

I predicted they will have a hard time, but they had a strong start, making me almost to eat my words, but the last week, with three straight losses, including two home losses to Indiana and Milwaukee (Heat helped two teams climb in to “The Good” section), pushed them back to 50% success.

The week actually started well, with a win in Dallas, despite being 8 points dog, but then came the game against the Pacers and a loss as 8.5 points favorite (talk about a roller coaster) that on top of the loss, Wade got injured and it brought back what I wrote about them in my preseason review of them.
Without Wade, they started with Cole and Ennis (great highlight player – but still d-league player last season) against the Hawks and Cole with Chalmers as their backcourt against the Bucks.
No matter how you slice it, Ennis, Cole, Chalmers, Brown and Nappier get 96 minutes in the backcourt and 110 minutes of playing time overall in each of the two games without Wade and if you think this is Sixers level material back court, you are not wrong.
This week Heat will play Nets and Orlando on the road and Clippers at home. If Wade won’t return, it can be ugly for the Heat.

This week I actually don’t have another really bad team. Brooklyn went 1 – 3 SU and ATS, but they played three very hard games, in four days, against Suns, Warriors and Blazers – all on the road and they tried to compete in all three.
Phoenix was the closest to be the second team to get full appearance in “The Bad” section, not only because they went 2 -2, but because this is one of the youngest teams in the league and yet, already in the beginning of the season, they struggle in B2B sets and 4 out of their 5 losses were in one of the ends of B2B (or both) and they have yet to win B2B set. 
If a loss to LAC in LA I can understand (though first ATS win for the Clippers this season), they also lost at home to Charlotte and Memphis and on the road to Utah and it appears that Suns have a motivation problem or something like this in such games.

The Ugly 

I don’t have a team or a big issue that I would like to point out, but few things that annoyed me and I found ugly.

1) “Home” game between Minnesota and Houston in Mexico City. I understand that NBA is all about show and this is a multi billion money making industry. But still… if Minny would have battled for playoffs and lost in the end by one game, wouldn’t this game be a possible changer?
Teams need to play at their home or as worst case, play each other two games in that venue.
Bucks and Knicks will play each other in London as well later this season, on January 15th.

2) Few very ugly results this week. Sixers lost by 53 points to Dallas, 123 – 70 (trailed 57 – 19 at one point). Wolves (though without Rubio and Young), lost 91 – 139 to New Orleans and the night after that, 131 points from Dallas. I don’t know what’s NBA record is, but not many teams conceded 270 points in two games, without any OT. 
On top of that, two more teams scored 130+ points, this time on the road. Portland scored 130 points in Denver and GSW scored 136 points in LA, against the Lakers last night.
And while 251 points were scored in one game, Rockets and Thunder game ended 69 – 65 in Rokets favor. 134 points in the whole game, while GSW and Lakers had 129 points at halftime. I don’t know what’s worst, but both games I wouldn’t want to watch.

3) Sixers – I know that Minnesota could have been easily here as well, but they had two key injuries + forced to play in Mexico, making it even harder road schedule than were suppose to be, so they got a discount. But Sixers just keep working on making their last season look good.
Second worst offense in the league (lead by half a point on Oklahoma – thanks to Thunder scoring only 65 points last night) and worst points margin in the league with -16 points. Lakers are pathetic, but still one place above them with -10 points (Sixers actually lead by 6 points this dubious stat). 
I will write an article about them sooner or later.

Checking last week’s predictions:
Fading Toronto 1 – 2 ATS (and actually there was no reason to fade them against Utah, off the loss to the Bulls)
Fading Sacramento – 2 – 2 ATS and 1 – 3 SU (losing to the Thunder, despite being favorites).

This week there are no predictions.

For those that are interested in my picks this week, can read the details here:
http://betonbasket.com/subscription/nba-picks


For questions, replies, thoughts and suggestions regarding the weekly article, please write to:
bmanidv@gmail.com
Best of luck everybody!!! 

 

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