NBA Thoughts

Some quick NBA thoughts on a Friday. I have the Spurs at +1075 to win the NBA title despite their loss in Utah last night.

On a sad note, Utah’s Matt Harpring is likely to retire after this season.

Harpring continues to deal with the effects of a devastating infection that followed ankle surgery in 2008 as well as the effects of multiple knee surgeries throughout his career. Harpring did not join the Jazz for training camp or the preseason, remaining at home with his family in Atlanta.

Harpring was one of my favorite players as a fellow white person, and he basically carried some mediocre Georgia Tech teams through the ACC before turning pro and was a favorite of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. He had a solid career there after being drafted by Orlando in 1998. With Kyle Korver also out, the Jazz are currently without any white Americans for the first time in franchise history.

Some notes from Basketball Prospectus on Cleveland’s early struggles:

Cleveland’s roster is, in many ways, an odd mismatch of talent. Perhaps more than any of the teams we expect to contend for a title, the Cavaliers’ depth chart features some very versatile pieces (James, Mo Williams, Delonte West, Anthony Parker, J.J. Hickson, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas), who are expected to mesh with some very single-dimensional specialists (O’Neal, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao, and Jamario Moon). Creating a system that caters to this kind of lineup is not easy, and it takes a considerable amount of time for a group as eclectic and diverse as this to come together.

The major issue is finding ways for these players to truly complement one another without cannibalizing each other’s opportunities. Integrating O’Neal to this mix has only made this harder, as his unique size and agility (even at his current age and weight) force the Cavaliers to use him in specific ways. One way to take advantage of the varied talents on Cleveland’s roster is to create squads based on specific game situations and team needs. This would allow Mike Brown to plan entire rotations in based on the game situation. Do you want low post scoring? Make sure O’Neal is in the game. Are they clogging the paint with their big, preventing dribble-drive action? Use a lineup that features Ilgauskas. Is the other team getting into the paint too easily while we are on defense? Get your long athletes and strap up and guard someone. These kinds of squad changes are common in high school basketball, where rosters are more piecemeal, and they may make sense for Cleveland.

I wonder how long it will be until an NBA team hires a coach or a GM from Europe. Truehoop had this bit today from Real Madrid’s basketball coach Ettore Messina:

I consider myself a tailor whose job is to create the best possible suit for the team. I’m not a prêt-à-porter guy; I don’t produce those “ready to wear” clothes. I’m like a man who makes a suit that’s supposed to fit its owner perfectly. That means it takes time for me to understand what’s best for the team both defensively and offensively. Like, we can defend a pick-and-roll in many different ways. And the way we defended it with CSKA could be ill-suited for a team that’s not as powerful and at the same time is much quicker than CSKA. We have to adjust our pick-and-roll defense, adjust principles of defensive rotations, etc. It’s my job to define through experiment what we should do….

Figuring all this out takes a while and in the meantime we’re not playing consistently and sometimes lose games.

It sounds like Messina would be a great fit in Cleveland, or any other team that’s going to be looking for a coach and would like to avoid the mistakes of college coaches past.

Success is a choice

They’re not choosing success in Memphis, where the Grizzlies are off to a 1-4 start and are probably the worst defensive team in the league. I love this quote from GM Chris Wallace on Allen Iverson:

We had some discussions with him [Iverson], but basically it’s like it is with all players. You come in, lets see what you can do, let’s see how it fits in, maybe its starting, maybe its coming off the bench, let the coach determine how he feels like he can best exploit your talents and we’ll go from there.

Well that’s great, Chris. You’re the GM of an NBA team, meaning your roster is only 15 players deep. Maybe it would have been a good idea to have this conversation with your coach and Iverson before you signed him? Maybe your marquee free agent wouldn’t be in the press saying things like this after the 5th game:

Q. Do you understand what Hollins is trying to do by gradually bringing you along?

Iverson: I understand what he’s doing. But he’s seen the things I’ve done. He knows I’ve never come off the bench in my whole career. He knows that’s not something I’m accustomed to. He knows that’s not something I would want to do. …Everybody knows that’s not something I want to do.

Q. Did Griz brass tell you the franchise was rebuilding?

Iverson: No. Nobody ever said anything about rebuilding. You know I wouldn’t have come to a team, at 34 years old, that was in a rebuilding process. I’m trying to win a championship. I thought I would have won a championship by now. I didn’t come here for no money. I didn’t come here for another scoring title or an All-Star game. I’ve done all that stuff. I want to win. If we are not trying to win, I have a problem. I’m assuming we are trying to win.”

Now admittedly, Iverson’s an idiot for thinking that the Grizzlies had a chance to win anything besides the NBA lottery or the 8th seed in the playoffs this season, but that’s not his job. If Chris Wallace really thought his team had a chance to be good this season, he’s somehow a worse GM than I thought, and if not why did he sign Iverson in the first place?

Thursday/Friday Links

“Mr. Steinbrenner deserves another championship.” – Joe Girardi

Halloween winners on the subway in Boston.

I love this headline: FAT footballers to receive free Big Macs in Thai sponsorship deal. Somehow, I’m not sure this is exactly the best idea…

Thailand’s top footballers will receive free burgers as part of their new three-year, £545,000 sponsorship deal with the fast food giant McDonald’s.

According to the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), McDonald’s will provide £450,000 in cash and the rest in products in exchange for shirt sponsorship for the next three years, starting this month.

And in case you were wondering, soccer from random countries is entertaining.

If I can read weird text correctly, I believe Botev pulled off a late 1-0 win, but it’s not the goals we’re interested in. No sir, it’s the rioting. Not only did players and backroom staff from both teams decamp to the pitch for some punching, shoving, and colourful language, but the fans in the stands got in on the act as well, setting fire to random bits of the stadium.

This is what I believe to be the first mention & link to a story about Larry Bird since this blog’s inception.

The Warriors fail at hazing.

Some thoughts on 2009’s best fielders in baseball. That Pujols guy is pretty good.

Lastly, this just about ruined my day.

NFL Week 9 Early Leans & Stats of the Week

Early Leans: None

We did start to see a return to form this week as average teams (SF, ATL) should not be getting double digit points away to anyone (IND, NO). Below average teams should not be laying 2 touchdowns plus against anyone (SD). That said, the early lines still look like a mess, but this is coming from someone who’s been setting money on fire for two months straight.

Slightly less early leans:

Tennessee @ San Francisco -4
This line should be closer to -6. Something isn’t right here and it’s likely the fact that LT Joe Staley and CB Nate Clements are both out for six weeks.

Detroit +10 @ Seattle
This is too many points for one awful team against another one.

Stats of the Week

1) Aaron Rodgers leads all QBs in rushing yards with 188 on 29 carries and in QB rating (110.4).

2) The Titans Chris Johnson is now averaging 6.9 yards per carry.

3) The Saints have scored 273 points through 7 games, leading the NFL and on pace to score 624. The 2007 Patriots hold the all time NFL record with 589 (36.8/game).

4) San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis now leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 7. He’s caught all four of Alex Smith’s TD passes this year.

5) The Dolphins won versus the Jets Sunday despite being outgained on offense 378-104.

6) The Oakland Raiders have scored an NFL low 6 touchdowns through 8 games.

6b) The Rams have scored exactly the same number of points through 8 games (77) as they did in their four preseason games.

7) Curtis Lofton now leads the NFL in tackles with 76.

8) The Denver Broncos with their loss to Baltimore failed to cover for the first time this season.

8b) Despite their win last night versus Atlanta, New Orleans failed to cover for the first time this season.

9) Week 9 should theoretically be a good week for the NFL. Oakland, St. Louis, Buffalo and Cleveland are all on bye.

10) Number of players suspended by both the NFL and UFL: 1. Come on down Koren Robinson!

2009 Week 8 NFL Picks

Denver/Baltimore Over 41.5
This is a completely neutral point total (NFL average is 42) despite the fact that neither defense is particularly good.

Houston @ Buffalo +3.5
Home underdog being shunned here against a team with a history of sucking on the road. Probably should take the moneyline here (+175ish) but I’m not that smart.

Miami +3 @ NY Jets
Still like the way Miami matches up here. It’s hard to scheme against power which is what the Dolphins are going to run the whole game.

Bonus 3-team teaser sure to fail:

Seattle @ Dallas +0.5
Carolina @ Arizona EV
Atlanta @ New Orleans -1

Parlaying all 3 moneylines here is essentially the same bet but pays out 10-12% less.

Passing Oakland and San Francisco. On Showtime’s Inside the NFL, there was extensive video of the Raiders loss to the Jets filled with running commentary from CB Nnamdi Asomugha muttering things like “All 11 were wrong on that,” and “Bad day, bad day, bad day.” He’d be one of the most popular players in the league if he played on a winning team. And am I the only person that thinks Alex Smith and Shaun Hill should platoon? Smith is capable of some of the most spectacularly bad interceptions outside of Jake Delhomme and I really don’t see how sitting on the bench for a year changes that. Hill should start and Smith should come in in relief if/when the 49ers trail and they need to complete a pass longer than 10 yards. Or maybe Hill can be converted to relief and become the first closer QB ever in the NFL? The hardest part might be find him some entrance music.

Good luck out there today.

Will you complete my teaser?

So I have decided that I want to bet the under on the South Carolina/Tennessee game.  Its around 41 I think.  But I want to tease it and I really do not like any college games too much so I am going to do the game I played two weeks ago where I try to guess the spread on games.  The game where the biggest disparity exists will become Part B for my teaser.  This is prefaced, though, where if i forget or didn’t hear about an injury or something and that affects the line I’ll probably back out of that pick and go with another game.  As always, lines provided by pinnaclesports.com  Real line in bold

Houston @ Buffalo

Right off the bat a game where an injury has major implications.  Johnson is supposedly playing, though.  Im going to make this line Houston -.5 even though I know that line does not happen.  Houston minus 3.5

Browns @ Bears

Browns still a train wreck.  Bears minus 10  Bears minus 13

Seahawks @ Cowboys

Cowboys looked good last week.  Cowboys minus 7.5  Dallas minus 9.5

Rams @ Lions

Wow and yuck.  wuck.  Lions minus 3  Lions minus 4

49ers @ Colts

Not sure how Vegas is feeling with the Alex Smith situation, but Colts minus 11 sounds about right.  Indy minus 12.5

Dolphins @ Jets

Jets minus 3.  This line has to  be either 3 or 3.5  Jets minus 3.5

Giants @ Eagles

Eagles minus 3.5, pretty much the same logic as the Jets game.  Division rivals = home team field goal favorite in most cases. Giants minus 1

Broncos @ Ravens

How much respect is Vegas going to give the Denver 6-0?  That’s the question here.  Ravens minus 1  Ravens miuns 3.5

Jags @ Titans

Now going back a few games you just heard me say that biz about division rivals and field goals and blah blah.  But this game has to be an exception in my eyes.  Jags minus 1.5  Titans minus 3

Raiders @ Chargers

Oakland played well week 1 in this game.  Still, this has to be around San Diego minus 10  San Diego minus 16.5

Panthers @ Cardinals

As I was starting this blog I saw Delhomme is starting this week.  Cardinal D is looking like a legitimate fantasy option.  Cardinals minus 8  Cardinals minus 10

Vikings @ Packers.

Didn’t see the Steeler game last week but it sounded like Favre was gun slinging again at the end.  Packers minus 3  Pack minus 3

Falcons @ Saints

The Falcons have been playing pretty suspect the last couple of weeks.  Might have to bet this game regardless if the line is right.  Saints minus 7.5  Saints minus 10.5

So, according to this I have to bet on Oakland.  I don’t love it, but it’s not that horrible.  The tease will make the Raiders more than a three touchdown underdog.  If they can score two touchdowns against a San Diego defense that has been far from “lights out” this year that should pretty much get things done.  Let’s get back on the Oakland express one more week.

Week 8 Rambling Drill

First, I must comment on the upcoming NBA season, which could turn out to be one of the most fun in memory.  I gotta say it’s been real fun betting against Mike Brown, as I took the Raptors +3 in their first home game versus the Cavs.  I really don’t gamble on NBA that much, especially not at the volume I bet on NFL and College FB, although thanks to a tip from our resident L.A. Clipper fan Van Tran last year, I was able to pay two months rent thanks to his “Bet the under in the first half; over in the second half when Clippers are at home” strategy that went 10-1 (only loss was to the Pacers).  This  trend was lucrative last year, mostly thanks to two things that spell NBA betting success: losing your best player to inury (Baron Davis), and Mike Dunleavy being involved in any way shape or form.  I felt this was how to have betting success in the NBA: get tips from a true fan of the team, and come to a sensible conclusion thanks to those tips.  Van Tran to me in a poker game: “Mike doesn’t even coach the team in the second half, they just play a game of pick up out there!”  A team with shaky yet talented personnel and no coaching?  Sounds like the money truck is backing up with that statement to me!  Anyone know a bookie?

Granted, however, the most optimal strategy to bet on NBA games?  Knowing a referee of course!  Here’s an excerpt from the book-that-won’t-be-published-but-should-be-because-there-is-this-thing-called-the-1st-amendment that I will immediately buy once it is on the shelves (even though the guy is a degenerate felon, but I really am fascinated by this shit):

Allen Iverson provides a good example of a player who generated strong reaction, both positive and negative, within the corps of NBA referees. For instance, veteran referee Steve Javie hated Allen Iverson and was loathe [sic] to give him a favorable call. If Javie was on the court when Iverson was playing, I would always bet on the other team to win or at least cover the spread. No matter how many times Iverson hit the floor, he rarely saw the foul line. By contrast, referee Joe Crawford had a grandson who idolized Iverson. I once saw Crawford bring the boy out of the stands and onto the floor during warm-ups to meet the superstar. Iverson and Crawford’s grandson were standing there, shaking hands, smiling, talking about all kinds of things. If Joe Crawford was on the court, I was pretty sure Iverson’s team would win or at least cover the spread.

All this times, poker player and seasoned NBA bettor Haralabos Voulgaris was betting games based on charts and graphs, and I bet games based on an NBA knowledge I had accrued due to years of collecting basketball cards and countless hours running plays in the NBA Live series (like knowing the fact that Shaq defending the pick and roll vs Damon Stoudimire/R.Wallace in NBA Live 2001 was like watching a retard trying to learn karate).  And all this time the optimal strategy was to simply know either Tim Donaghy, or the ball boy that his crew tipped, based on a prop bet the referee crew placed before the game.  It’s as if Van, Darts, and Allen were in the souls of these refs, personally placing bets on the games WHILE that officiated them.  “(whistle blows) Loose Ball Foul on 45! $20 on the white board at the Castle!”  It’s sickening, hilarious, and shocking all at the same time.  And a lot like when I read Canseco’s book, “Juiced”, I really do feel he’s not completely bullshitting on this one because me and my NBA friends (all 6 of us) have been saying the same shit about Dick Bavetta for years.  The NBA, Where Rigged Happens.

NFL thoughts on last week:

Is this LB button truck stick hit by Adrian Peterson considered a hate crime?

Reggie Bush hitting the right trigger stick+Y to score a great TD versus the Dolphins

Daniel Synder pulling off his best Communist China Mao impression

Great story from Mister Irrelivant about the Synder sign lynchings:

Last night I was at my first Skins Monday Night game. I went with a couple friends, but knew I needed to take an Anti-Snyder banner with me. Problem was I couldn’t come up with anything clever until just before I left for the game. My brother texted me the perfect idea for a sign to play off on the whole Sherman Lewis bingo thing. I whipped up a quick “Snyder…B-I-N-GO F Yourself” sign on a bed sheet so everybody could see it.

In the third quarter, one of my friends and I took out the banner and were holding it up. Next thing I know, four security guys are coming up both sets of stairs and headed right for us. They take my banner and tell us we have to leave the stadium. On the way out a bunch of people in the section are taking pictures and chanting “Free Speech!”

Once we got to the concourse area they asked for my ID, which I quickly tried to pass off to a friend. One of the security guys snatched my wallet and wrote down my drivers license info in his little black book. I guess that means means I’m banned from the stadium or something. They then escorted my three friends and I all the way from the 400 level out to the front gate. I tried to talk to them about the whole situation but they weren’t having it — too busy being serious security guys, I guess.

So, long story short, I got my point across, they took my banner, I probably got banned for life and I got to leave the game early. Good thing too, it was an awful game.

The Redskins looked so lax on offense on Monday Night; Jaws said it best that the team just doesn’t have any urgency.  Maybe they need some athletes, some spark, and someone ready to kick some ass and take names later, as in while doing a somersault backflip.  Who do I suggest?  Kurt Thomas (not the one from the NBA who has 3 DUIs), who practices the greatest form of karate known to man: GymKata (as narrated by Don LaFontaine). You know Reggie Bush walks up the steps in his mansion using just his hands!

The picks for the week:

Jax/Ten Under 45

Wait, you are telling me I get to bet an under, above 40, with games involving both David Garrard AND Vince Young!

Philadelphia +1 vs NYG

I like taking home teams in coin flips, although this happens to be my smallest play of the week.

GB +3 vs MIN

Agree with Lou, and the statement above.

6 pt teaser of the week:

ATL +16.5 @ NO

IND -7 vs SF

Thursday Links – Free Snuggie!

“The biggest things in life have been achieved by people who, at the start, we would have judged crazy. And yet if they had not had these crazy ideas the world would have been more stupid.” – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Wenger may not have been referring to the Snuggie specifically in the quote above, but it certainly applies. Fewer products have been loved, mocked, and the subject of pub crawls as much as the Snuggie. And as much as I appreciate being able to answer a corded phone without removing my blanket or attending a sporting event dressed like a monk, I was not about to pay $20 for the privilege of doing so (free book light excluded).

But now, for a limited time only, the Snuggie is free. No, I’m not making that up. Get one here.

These are all excellent questions: Why teach a bear to ice skate? Can a bear do a triple salchow? How does the bear skate–four legs or two? And why, given that it already has sharp claws and teeth, would anyone strap blades on a bear?

A happy ending for the week’s most infamous Phillies fan.

Antoine Walker – Money Manager

Lastly…

(718): what happened last night?
(917): u kept telling him to fuck u optimus prime style
(718): that explains why his roommate kept saying autobots roll out this morning as i left

Many more of those here.

Redskin & Vegas Fail

In case you haven’t noticed, the Redskins have become the most entertaining team in football.

The owner, Daniel Snyder, is widely reviled in Washington, and for good reason. He meddles, bullies, and trusts his own football judgment too much. John Kent Cooke, who ran the team before Snyder purchased it about a decade ago, remarked recently that Snyder had “destroyed the franchise.” Fans did not generally receive this comment as hyperbole. The issue is not the team’s performance on the field, dismal as that is. It is the culture created by the owner—one of greed, expediency, and mean-spiritedness. The general atmosphere around the team suggests Zimbabwe—a failed state, an intractable dictator, and an impotent and suffering populace.

Dictator Snyder recently banned all signage from FedEx field, with a predictable response from Redskin fans:

Mike Broderick, a longtime season ticket holder, [came] to the Chiefs game with Dumb and Dumber signs, attracting a security official who threatened to seize his season tickets. (See above.) The guard told Broderick he could either go to the security office, leave the stadium, or hand over the signs. So Broderick asked if he could put the image on a t-shirt instead.

“That would be kind of offensive,” the security official said.

“It’s offensive to come to these games,” Broderick said he replied.

Broderick made it in safely Monday night:

Dan Snyder & Vinny Cerrato Dumb & Dumber

Gamblers who bet on the Redskins were also treated to the following:

For those who were lucky enough not to watch, the Redskins did everything below (in order) and still managed to not cover by only a couple of points:

1. Concede ridiculous 67 yard touchdown on reverse to DeSean Jackson
2. Asinine pick 6 from deep in their own territory
3. Fumble on ensuing possession allows Eagles to kick FG without picking up a 1st down
4. Muffed punt allows Eagles to kick FG without picking up a 1st down
5. Blown coverage gives Eagles a 57 yard TD on 3rd & 22
6. Center snaps ball off own leg on 4th and goal from the 4.

Most of this can be attributed to the Redskins own incompetence, but even though they blow at football, I’d bet that you’ll be hard pressed to find another game this year where they manage do so this much stupid stuff. Fuck Us.

Week 7 was also bad for Vegas. ”I can’t remember an NFL season with this many bad teams,” said Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay, who has been in the business for 22 years. “No doubt, it was the worst day ever for the books.

”We can’t attract money on these poor teams. We keep losing on the same teams. They are not even close to covering.”

“We’ve had bad teams in the NFL before, but usually one or two step up and cover,” Kornegay said. He paused and issued a gallows humor laugh. “I feel like we’re in a knife fight and we’re losing.

NFL Week 8 Early Leans & Stats of the Week

Fun times on Sunday in two of the few competitive games of the day. Both New Orleans and Pittsburgh clinched miracle covers in the final two minutes of their games by returning an interception for a score. Pittsburgh’s cover was thanks to Minnesota’s Chester Taylor and Brett Favre.

Favre didn’t look like he was having much fun out there when he slid at Keyaron Fox’s feet on the return without actually making contact with him. Admittedly, it was only the second worst “tackle” of the game.

Watch Jeff Reed’s Tackle

Miami’s failing was even more special. Not only were the Fins (+7) winning by 10 real points to start the 4th quarter, New Orleans was kind enough to miss an extra point on their go-ahead touchdown AND kick a field goal from Miami’s 3 on their next drive to make the score 40-34 with 3:20 to play. Then Chad Henne stepped in (skip to 5:00 minute mark).

Stats of the Week

1) Sunday was only the second time in Alex Smith‘s career he has thrown 3 touchdown passes in a game, the other in 2006 versus Oakland. He replaced Shaun Hill at halftime for the 49ers and has been named the starter for next week’s game at Indy.

2) The Carolina Panthers have 21 turnovers in six games.

3) Miami’s 34 points were the most by a losing team in over a year (35 by the Cardinals losing in week 4 last season to the Jets).

4) Despite having only three penalties for 22 yards against Carolina Sunday, the Bills are still the most penalized team in the league averaging 71.57 penalty yards per game. #2? The Saints at 71.1.

5) The Arizona Cardinals have the league’s #1 run defense, allowing 3 yards/carry and 67.5 yards/game.

6) Redskins QB Jason Campbell has 10 fumbles already this season.

7) New Orleans has scored 45 points or more in four of their six games this season.

8) The Atlanta Falcons have never won a game under Mike Smith when trailing at halftime.

9) Derek Anderson’s first quarter against the Packers – 5/6 for 69 yards. His line for the day – 12/29 for 99 and an INT.

10) Road favorites were 7-1 this weekend. The one loser was Chicago (-1) at Cincy.

Week 8 Early Leans

I went 0-2-1 last week thanks to Shaun Hill and the Saints miracle cover. I sincerely hope no one is following my picks at this point. These are leans which may or may not be worse than what I end up going with on Friday/Saturday.

Houston @ Buffalo +3.5
Minnesota @ Green Bay -3

2009 NFL Week 7 & UFC 104 Picks

Short on time this weekend…UFC picks that you should follow if you can get a comparable price are here.

NFL

San Francisco @ Houston -3
NY Jets @ Oakland +6
New Orleans @ Miami +7