February 18, 2008
By Stephen Nover
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OK, now that the All-Star game is history, what can we expect during the rest of this NBA regular season?
More of the same, that’s what. Boston has 41 victories. Miami, Minnesota, Memphis and Seattle have a combined 46 wins.
There are nine teams in the Western Conference that begin the post-All-Star break at least 12 games above .500. Some of these clubs have gotten better since tinkering with their rosters.
It’s easy to think improvement from the Los Angeles Lakers with Pau Gasol now on the roster. Dallas certainly will be better if Jason Kidd joins up. The Jazz are a quiet 18-3 since acquiring Kyle Korver.
Phoenix is rolling the dice on Shaquille O’Neal. But at least the Suns are willing to play poker. The Nuggets, Hornets and Celtics probably will make moves, too, before Thursday’s trade deadline.
What’s likely to happen is the gap is going to widen between upper tier and lower tier teams.
From a betting perspective that could mean a lean towards favorites.
Miami has been the worst pointspread team, covering only 35 percent of the time so far. But there probably are going to be worse spread teams than the Heat during these two months.
The Heat at least shook up the deck bringing in Shawn Marion. Dwayne Wade and Marion give the Heat two of the top 15 players, at least from a fantasy basketball standpoint.
Unless the points are exceedingly generous, be wary of backings Seattle, Memphis and Charlotte.
Not only do these teams lack star talent, but morale could become a huge negative factor.
David Stern didn’t do the SuperSonics any favors during All-Star weekend when he candidly said to expect the team to leave Seattle either this year or next year. What incentive do the Sonics have now?
Memphis could be the worst team. Minnesota has fewer victories, but the Timberwolves have young talent and Randy Foye now is finally healthy.
The Blue Ribbon College yearbook is great reference material, but Chris Wallace is one horrendous NBA general manager. The Grizzlies GM dealing of Gasol to the Lakers for Kwame Brown and other debris probably would have been stopped by the league if the late Bowie Kuhn had been NBA commissioner.
The Grizzlies were 14-48 with Gasol, their best player. Their owner wants to sell the team, the defense still is bad and now there’s just a bunch of role players and non-defenders such as Mike Miller.
Charlotte has some good players, namely Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. But the Bobcats are last in the NBA in free throw percentage and have an overmatched coach, Sam Vincent.
Morale can’t be very good with the players not buying into Vincent and rumors of Larry Brown taking over as coach. The Bobcats entered the break 1-7 straight-up and 1-6-1 against the spread.
Milwaukee and New York are two other clubs that could be worth ‘fading.’ The Bucks aren’t buying into coach Larry Krystkowiak anymore. They came into the All-Star break on a 1-7 cold spell. General manager Larry Harris is on the hot seat, too.
As for the Knicks, first it was the media being down on Isiah Thomas. Then the fans turned on Thomas. Now the players finally have seen the light. They can’t stand him. Isiah is a prophet all right – a prophet of doom.