NBA First Half Betting Review: Top Eight Stories

NBA First Half Betting Review: Top Eight Stories

NBA First Half Betting Review: Top Eight Stories
Atssportsline.com

With the NBA season needing a break, as the All-Star Game approaches on Feb. 17 from Houston, it's time to look at the top stories from the first half. We'll also take a look at possible trades with the deadline approaching on Feb. 21. at 3pmET.

The Los Angeles Lakers slow start.

This is a complete soap opera. As of Feb. 8, the Lakers are 23-27 SU (20-29-1 ATS). That's after acquiring Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Nash missed the first 24 games with a slight fracture in his leg and Howar has been hampered by a shoulder injury. Just when things appeared to be going better, Pau Gasol suffered a partial tear to his plantar fascia and could miss as much as two months. In other words, the Lakers will have to do go to a smaller, but quicker lineup. If Howard can play through pain, the Lakers should be ok with Earl Clark replacing Gasol in the lineup. If you like to bet the Lakers, hold off to see how they play a few games without Gasol.

Coaching changes in Brooklyn, Phoenix and Milwaukee

The biggest surprise was the firing of Avery Johnson in Brooklyn. The Nets got off to a slow start and then hired P.J. Carlesimo and went 15-6. They are just three games behind New York in the Atlantic Division, but their lack of a strong bench appears to be the main thing keeping them from being an elite team. They also lack quickness up front. Phoenix let go of Alvin Gentry on Jan. 20 and hired Lindsey Hunter, who has gone 4-4 since. That was controversial considering the 42-year old Hunter had no coaching experience and Dan Majerle was hoping to get the job. The Suns are headed nowhere at 17-33 SU (20-27-3 ATS) so it's hard to tell if Hunter is the answer. The answer is getting better players. In Milwaukee, the Bucks fired Scott Skiles on Jan. 8 and hired Jim Boylan, who has a 9-6 record. The Bucks are 25-23 SU (24-24 ATS) are still inconsistent and lack a true center since trading Andrew Bogut.

John Wall's injury and return in Washington

Washington has had a miserable season, as they started the season going 5-28. They had numerous issues including a knee injury to John Wall and foot problems for Nene. Now they are 8-7 SU since Wall came back and are averaging 99.8 points per 100 possessions in their last 15 games with Wall, compared to 93.1 in 33 games without him. That doesn't necessarily mean they are going to go OVER the total bet in most games as they are 20-26-2 UNDER, but they are a very good covering team against the spread this season (29-17-2). Wall's jumper is still an issue, but if rookie Brad Beal (wrist) can stay healthy, Washington may be a very interesting team to watch in the second half even though they have virtually no shot of making the playoffs at 13-35.

Los Angeles Clippers still a threat to win the West

The Clippers (35-16 SU, 20-5 Home, 28-23 ATS) have stumbled as of late due to a knee injury to Chris Paul, who is expected to return either on Friday against the Heat or Sunday, Feb. 11 against the Knicks. Paul bumped knees with J.J. Redick on Jan. 12, suffering a bone bruise. Blake Griffin picked up the slack and then tweaked his hamstring right before the Washington game. Since Paul's collision with Redick, the Clippers are 7-8. That injury could cost the Clips the West as they sit 4.5 games behind the Spurs and 3 games behind the Thunder. Here's the problem in Los Angeles. They were considering a deal for Kevin Garnett from the Celtics as they could use a veteran presence up front. Eric Bledsoe is an obvious trade chip as he can play the point or shooting guard and has done a nice job in Paul's spot. When everybody is healthy, nobody is deeper. The Clips can bring Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf and Bledsoe.

Toronto acquires Rudy Gay, Detroit adds Jose Calderon, Memphis gets rid of salary

The Toronto Raptors not only acquired Rudy Gay, but they are considering dealing Andrea Bargnani for Carlos Boozer according to reports. They gave up a pretty good young player in Ed Davis along with point guard Jose Calderon to get Gay. Calderon went to Memphis, who dealt him to Detroit. The Pistons (18-32 SU, 23-27 ATS) and Raptors (17-32 SU, 25-23-1 ATS) are not likely playoff contenders at this time as both are about eight games behind Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East. Some say that getting Gay means that Toronto is just stockpiling bad shooters, along with DeMar Derozan and Alan Anderson. As for Memphis has lost three of four since trading Gay. The offense wasn't explosive to begin with and now they are really struggling. Picking up Austin Daye, Davis and Tayshaun Prince was going to help the defense, but not the offense right away. Prince is not a three-point shooter and neither is shooting guard Tony Allen. It's tough to win without a wing that can stretch the defense. Memphis (30-18 SU, 27-20-1 ATS) is probably not in danger of missing the playoffs, but they are probably not going to move up from the 5th spot in the West.

James Harden explodes in Houston, Kevin Martin settles in at Oklahoma City

Kevin Martin is 185 pounds at 6-6 and James Harden is about 220 at 6-5. Nobody is going to confuse Martin with Harden as Houston added the explosive wing right before the season began. The Thunder also acquired Jeremy Lamb and two first-round picks and a second. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. Harden went from extraordinary sixth man to one of the best scorers in the game, as he averages 25.8 points per game for the upstart Rockets, who are 27-24 SU (27-23-1 ATS) this season. That leaves them eighth place in the conference. The Thunder (37-12 SU, 29-18-2 ATS) sit at just 1.5 games behind the Spurs in second place in the West. Martin averages 15.2 points per game and shoots 44% from three-point range coming off the bench. They still start Thabo Sefolosha (13.8ppg) for defensive purposes and they haven't really missed a beat though Jeremy Lamb hasn't given them much.

Will Dallas make a deal by the trade deadline?

Dallas (21-28 SU, 28-21 ATS) looks done. A knee injury and age concerns to Dirk Nowitzki, not to mention defensive issues, have basically given the Mavs the look of a lottery team. Nowitzki is averaging just 14.6 points per game and 5.5 rebounds in 30 minutes per game. That's over eight points under his career average of 22.9 per game. O.J. Mayo (18ppg) is having a solid season, while shooting 43% from three-point range. Chris Kaman (12.4ppg, 6.2rpg) continues to have problems staying healthy as he's now being hampered by a concussion. Dallas has too many players at the edge of their careers in Shawn Marion (11.2ppg), Vince Carter (12.8ppg), Kaman, Nowitzki, Elton Brand (7.3ppg, 6.5rpg) and Troy Murphy (4.6ppg). Expect Mark Cuban to make some move before the trade deadline.

Rajon Rondo's injury may force a deal for Boston

The Rajon Rondo ACL injury was supposed to be devastating for Boston, who ended up winning six straight and five without him. They beat Miami, 100-98 in overtime on Jan. 27 when Rondo (13.7ppg, 11.1apg)  went down. Boston (26-23 SU, 20-26-3 ATS) is still in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference playoff race in seventh place. But the Celts have to consider dealing Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry or Paul Pierce since this is an aging squad. Avery Bradley takes over at the point, while Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa form a pretty good guard rotation. But can the Celtics keep this up and is is worth it just to make the playoffs? It helps to have a quality coach like Doc Rivers, who can keep a mediocre team competitive.

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