Archives for posts with tag: basketball

nba-fan-map

Miami Heat (12-3, 7-8 ATS) vs Washington Wizards (1-13, 6-8 ATS)
Line: MIA by 10.5
Total: 195.5
Miami will be well rested when they take on Washington, the Heat last played three days ago versus Brooklyn. Expect Lebron, Wade and Bosh to play extended minutes as they prepare for a stretch that has them playing 8 games in 16 days. Washington is shooting a woeful 30.2% from three-point, so unless the they magically find their shooting touch tonight, Miami should win big and easily cover that 10.5 number.

Minnesota Timberwolves (7-8, 9-6 ATS) vs Philadelphia 76ers (10-7, 9-8 ATS)
Line: PHI by 3.5
Total: 188.5
Things are finally starting to turn around for the T-Wolves, with Kevin Love fully recovered from his broken wrist and stomach bug and Ricky Rubio returning to full contact, Minny seems to have weathered the early season storm to stay around .500. Love will be asked to carry the load for the Wolves, who are suffering with injuries to AK-47, Brandon Roy, and Chase Budinger. Philly’s been scoring over 100 ppg at home and expect that trend to continue tonight when they take on an out-gunned and out-manned Timberwolves squad.

Oklahoma City Thunder (14-4, 12-5 ATS) vs Brooklyn Nets (11-5, 10-5 ATS)
Line: OKC by 4
Total: 192.5
Two of the hottest teams in the NBA meet tonight with the Thunder winning their last five in a row, while the Nets are winners of five of their last six. The Thunder are leading the league scoring 105.1 ppg and shooting an outstanding 83.4% from the free throw line. Since moving to the borough, Brooklyn is 7-1 at the Barclay’s Center. Gerald Wallace is going to have the luxury of guarding Kevin Durant tonight, Wallace is an excellent on-ball defender and takes pride in shutting down other teams top scorers. Expect the refs to pay a bigger factor than usual in this one, whether they’re giving OKC the superstar treatment or Brooklyn with the hometown calls. If it’s close in the final minutes expect OKC’s exceptional free throw shooting to carry them through this.

Indiana Pacers (8-9, 7-10 ATS) vs Chicago Bulls (8-7, 4-11 ATS)
Line: CHI by 3.5
Total: 180
Bulls fans should be relieved to know that Richard Hamilton is returning from injury tonight, so the Jimmy Butler/Marco Belinelli era will finally becoming to  much needed end. Much like Minnesota, Chicago has battled through a rash of injuries and still find themselves in first place in the Central division. Chicago hasn’t been very successful at home against the spread, going 1-8 at the United Center in 2012. The Pacers are looking to end their four game road trip that saw them pick up big wins in L.A. and Sacramento. Pacers forward David West is playing at an all-star level again with Danny Granger missing, if they could only get Paul George to be consistent instead of one night looking like Tracy McGrady and the next Ricky Davis. I expect this game to go right down to the wire if not overtime, but in a low scoring game.

Los Angeles Lakers (8-9, 10-7 ATS) vs Houston Rockets (8-8 10-6 ATS)
Line: LAL by 2
Total: 214
While the Lakers are continuing to work out the kinks with new head man Mike D’Antoni, Dwight Howard seems to have found his place in the new system. Howard is coming off his first back to back 20 point 15 rebound performances, but so how has reached Shaq-esque levels on the free-throw line (46%). The Rockets very easily could implement the Hack-a-Howard defense and keep this game closer than it should be. With Steve Blake out for 6-8 weeks, Kobe is going to be forced to handle the ball handling duties until Steve Nash returns. With Kobe 52 points shy of 30,000 and Houston’s one man defense (Omir Asik) with his hands full with Howard, we could be in-store for a vintage Kobe night. Either he goes off for 50 or 2-23 shooting, either way you might want to stay up late for this one.

Advertisements

To truly understand my hatred for the basketball player James Harden (not the man James Harden for all I know he’s a good guy who’s just too lazy to shave) we have to go back to the winter of 2008-2009.

See my buddy Brandon and I have teamed up around March Madness to bounce ideas off each other on who we like and don’t like this year, which players could break out come tourney time. Brandon was always kid that had every issue of Slam magazine and he watched all the McDonald’s All-American game and was big into the summer leagues. The two of us in high school usually would sit on the internet during the day, reading sites like nbadraft.net, who would make bold comparisons like high school C.J. Miles to Michael Jordan and Sofoklis Schortsanitis to Shaq.

By the time we got to university and had what we thought was money to burn, we started laying some action on college ball along with our brackets. After varying success in the first couple of years, we decided that the best time to bet on college ball was around the conference tournament time. It’s the only time your going to get anywhere close to teams best efforts.

Brandon had/has a grandmother that lived out in Arizona, so he followed that area closer than others. At the time,  the then Pac-10 basketball was at a real low point. Lute Olsen was done at Arizona after 25 years of dominating the conference, USC was paying O.J. Mayo and anyone else to play there, UCLA was finally coming around after toiling in mediocrity. Brandon keeps talking about this L.A. kid, James Harden, who signed with Arizona State. The only names that mattered to me at the time out west were Mayo and the guy from the Beach Boys nephew that was going to UCLA (Kevin Love). He said you watch, this Harden kid is going to be good and he was right.

Freshman year, Harden averaged 17 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 2.1 apg leading a usual basement feeder in Zona St. to the N.I.T. Going into his sophomore year, the secret was out on Harden, He was on many pre-season All American lists, Naismith top 50 watch and the cover of Sports Illustrated’s college preview edition. Harden’s 2008-2009 season lead his team to 25-10 record, had him playing 35 minutes a game, scoring 20.1 ppg on 48.9% FG, 35% from three-point range along with 4.2 apg and 5.6 rpg. The guy was a stat filler. Harden even dropped 40 points on UTEP that season. Arizona St. was even ranked as high as #14 before conference play started. State ended up going all the way to the Pac-10 finals before losing to a very similarly built but not as talented USC team. While Brandon and eye watched this conference intently with all the top ranked teams in the Big East and ACC maybe someone out west was this years surprise team and we thought we had it. Harden in the Pac-10 finals versus ‘SC, was held to 10 points and missed a free throw, lay-up and three pointer in the final minute to win. Little did we know this was the beginning of a trend.

Despite the loss, Harden was named tourney MVP and shortly after Conference Player of the Year. Brandon and I were jonesing at the opportunity to ride Zona St. too at least the Elite Eight if not the Final Four. With our superstar from the desert, we were going to put big cash on the Sun Devils. Arizona State ended up with a six-seed, which really showed us no one respected them that over the heavily favored North Carolinas, UCONN’s, Pitt’s, and Louisville’s. But we knew the Sun Devils were not just a one trick pony, they also had Jeff Pendergraft (he’s currently rides the bench for the Indiana Pacers, but even to do that means you were really really good in college). Pendergraft did all the dirty work on the boards and scored a lot his points on Harden’s missed shots. Taking Zona St. to go deep in our pools, we bet big to cover in the first tourney game against Temple. If it wasn’t for Jeff Pendergraft, who knows if the ‘ole Rev would still have some oh his fingers left to write this piece.

Temple had this gunner named Dionte Christmas. Christmas could light up a basketball hoop. We figured with our boy James guarding him, this was going to be an easy win and the boys from Temple won’t know what hit them. But Harden choked hard that tournament, choked harder than the English soccer team chokes in penalty kicks (youtube any shoot-out England was in the World Cup or Euro Cup. Choke artists! all of them). Christmas lit up Harden for 29 points, while Harden; who was described on draftexpress.net as “looking lethargic and passive” scored 9 points on 1 for 9 shooting with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Not counting the four personal fouls. Not the kind of performance you expect from a guy trying to solidify his draft spot in the top five of the draft. Luckily Temple lacked an inside presence to contain Pendergraft, he scored 22 and helped the Sun Devils avoid the upset and saved my thumbs.

The next game that weekend came against three-seed Syracuse. Now this Syracuse team hadn’t made the tourney in two years and had not won a tourney game in four. With the likes of Eric Devendorf, Andy Rautins, Johnny Flynn, and Paul Harris did not inspire anyone of hopes of the 2003 National Championship team. The Orange benefited from a strong Big East tourney and received a very friendly three-seed. What happened next can only described by me as “Classic Harden”. 10 points, 2 for 10 shooting, 0-5 from three-point range. Worst part was he didn’t even make a field goal until the 9.30 mark in the SECOND HALF. Taking Zona St. by +2.5 only made matters worse. Remember I was still in college, I had delusions of grandeur of what I was going to do with my winnings. Didn’t score until half way thru the second half! Yes, Syracuse does play a good 2-3 defense, but there best defender (Wesley Johnson) was sitting out that year. Harden’s teammates, Ty Abbott (6-10 for three) and Rihand Kuksiks (6-13 from 3) scored 20 apiece. YEA, those fucking guys! Arizona lost 78-67 ending my bracket, current and future bets on Zona St. leaving me personally broke.

That type of performance is maybe….maybe acceptable for a freshman that has the burden of carrying his school, but he was a sophomore with some pretty legit players around him. The back to back disappointing games were like getting stab in the ego and figuratively beaten over the head with a lead pipe. Three lame duck games when it mattered the most, and it wasn’t cause he was trying to do too much, the guy didn’t look like he cared! Was he shaving points? problems with the coach? girlfriend trouble? Nothing came of it other than a soaring draft stock.

After the tourney and the rather large hole in my wallet, it’s fair to say who jumped up to number one on my shit list. Harden managed to land himself in the perfect situation in Oklahoma City. All the pressure that usually comes with being a high pick already was thrust up Kevin Garnett and Russell Westbrook. Harden could hide as the third wheel while receiving little blame if the team ever were to struggle.

Last season brought on a bigger role for James, after two years as a sixth man, an injury to back-up point guard Eric Maynor, forced Harden to be the Manu Gionbili for the Thunder’s likeable Big-3. Harden put up career high’s in points (16.8) rebounds (4.1) and assists (3.7), while the league and it’s fan’s were getting “Beard Fever”. OKC finished second in the conference and Harden was key in series versus the still hung-over Dirk and the Mavs, the disgruntled Kobe & Lakers, and the running on empty Spurs. Which takes us to the 2012 finals. Another “Classic Harden” performance.

While my feelings toward Harden had softened, you figured he was destined for a big series against the hobbled Dwayne Wade. Game one, was underwhelming 2 for 6 for 5 points, 3 assists and 4 fouls in 24 minutes. Game two, he did redeem himself in the loss, scoring 21 on 7 for 11 shooting. Again that was in a loss. The final three games assured me that my feelings about this guy were right all along. When the Thunder were desperate for answers and needed him to step up. He shot a combined 4 for 29 in Games three and four for just 17 points and in Game five, he scored an empty 19 points in a blowout loss that sealed the title for the Heat.

Another gut-less performance when it mattered. Forget “Big Game James” he is more of a “Lame Game James” if ya ask me. Even last night game for example, going back to OKC, all the pressure of playing against ex-teammates, he goes 3 for 16 with his shot blocked six times. How do you get your shot blocked by ex-teammates six times! and your USA gold medalist. No wonder he couldn’t get off the bench there, he sucked in practise. If there are any one he should be able to score on, it should be the one he was with everyday for three seasons. Now the world may finally know James Harden the basketball player like I have grown to know him. Houston you have a problem!

Image

Houston Rockets (7-7) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (11-4) @ Chesapeake Energy Arena, 8 PM
Line: OKC by 9
Total: 207.5

James Harden will be making his first trip back to Oklahoma City since being traded right before the start of training camp. So far, the trade seems to be paying off for all sides. Harden got his huge contract and ability to show he’s more then a role player.

Oklahoma has had a seeming-less transition adding Kevin Martin (15 ppg) to the starting line up, while freeing up more playing time for their endless bench of former first rounders (veterans like Collison, Perkins, Sefolosha and recent picks like Maynor, Thabeet, Jackson, Orton, Lamb, and Jones III. The Thunder could piece together another deal for a top-end talent without even affecting the starting line-up. Any rebuilding team would take back Orton and Thabeet (one of two seven-footers) a potential starting point guard in Maynor or Jackson and an athletic wing in Lamb or Jones. Scary stuff!

It’s a shame Houston had to play last night against my beloved Raptors, as the Rockets are give up 100.2 points per game and as Omir Asik is the only one playing any defense for them, the Thunder could easily drop 130 on them tonight.

Check back tomorrow on my story about “Why I Hate James Harden”.

Image

#4 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) vs #2 Duke Blue Devils (6-0) @ Cameron Indoor Stadium, 9.30 PM
Line: Duke by 6
Total: 144

Seriously, does no one else find it weird that Duke is already 6-0. Its November 28th. Notre Dame football won’t play again til January 7th, while Notre Dame basketball (already 6-1) will play eight more games before the National Championship game even kicks-off. Just me?

Mason Plumlee has really thrived since brother Miles left for the NBA last summer. Plumlee is averaging a double-double so far this season (19 pts/10 rebs). Expect Mason to continue his improved play against Ohio St., who has yet to find a replacement for the departed Jared Sullinger.

Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft will show off his lock down defensive skills when he tries to slow down the smoother jumper of Seth Curry. While Duke will have to find an answer for Bucks forward DeShaun Thomas. Thomas is scoring 24 ppg along with 7.3 rbg and 1.5 apg. At 6’7, he presents a big match-up problem for the Dukies. Duke does have all five starters averaging over 10 points per game though.

Blue Devils guard Rasheed Sulaimon looks to be next in the long line of slightly undersized two-guards to play in Cameron Indoor along the lines of Dahntay Jones, Andre Dawson, DeMarcus Nelson, Nolan Smith and J.J. Reddick.

Something a little thicker.

#20 Michigan Wolverines vs #4 Ohio State Buckeyes @ Buckeye Staduim, 12 PM on ABC – Urban Meyer’s first game in this legendary rivalry that’s made and lost many national champions will 33 degrees at kickoff with chances of flurries. Somebody’s going to tell Urban “he ain’t in Gainesville no-more”. The weather and improved quarterback play for Michigan in Devin Gardner should have this one being another classic finish.

(Side note: While we are finally getting a playoff in college football. I find it astounding that the college basketball season starts earlier and earlier every year without a peep. It’s November 23 and we have the Mich/Ohio St. game, but did you know their basketball teams are 4-0 and 5-0 respectively. We still have a week left in the month!

Used to be you’d be watching the early smattering of early bowl games and ESPN would break to show you some highlights of a tourny in Maui, followed by the thought “Oh yea that starts soon!?”, then finish your third diet coke by the pool. The Syracuse basketball team started their season on Nov 9th, did the BCS even send out their first poll by then? If ‘Cuse makes it to the Championship game of the tourney, and they are good enough to do it, that games played on the SECOND Monday in April.

How can you claim these kids are student/athletes, this is basically slave labor. In the NFL there’s 32 teams, 53 roster spots and seven rounds in the draft, in the NBA you have 30 teams, a 15 man roster with a two round draft. What benefit does continuing to add games for these players when there so little opportunities for employment out there. You argue European leagues, but they have limited roster spots for foreigners, then add then all the cultural changes, it’s a weak argument.

A friend of mine goes to University of Syracuse and is a huge basketball fan, he told me that last season (now Boston Celtic) Fab Melo missed and failed all of his classes both semesters and only missed the NCAA tourny. Yea, they attend summer classes, but there’s six players in a room with 24 tutors doing everything but signing their name on the teams work. I’ve been to summer school and nothing gets learned in the summer classes.

The only reason I can come to why we haven’t heard any argument for this brutal treatment of players in a “lesser” sport, with all the networks like FOX, CBS, ESPN and NBC making deals with conference networks or school networks, they lack good content.What do you do, get your cheap labor force that actually brings in ratings, add 20 games to the schedule and boom ratings and advertising dollars roll in.

The biggest crock in all this is if the NBA makes it mandatory to be two years removed from high graduation to be draft eligible. There’s no conceivable way a large number of these “student/athletes” would be able to maintain a solid enough grades to keep them eligible to play. Good luck to the coach that has to deal with a bunch of 18 to 21 year old kids, that have to be on campus all year, playing basketball and in the library. Better luck running a prison. I’m not complaining but what took so long to get me my two more GOD DAMN FOOTBALL GAMES.

 

 

#5 Oregon Ducks vs #15 Oregon St. Beavers @ Reser Stadium, 3 PM on FOX – Oregon can keep a slight title dream alive with a win in the Civil war on Saturday. The Beavers are averaging 48.5 ppg so look for the Beavers to try and fly with the Ducks.

#1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs USC Trojans @ The Coliseum, 8 PM on ABC – How the script to this game flip on this game early in the season. Notre Dame still has a test in this match-up as USC is one of the few teams on the schedule with NFLers up and down the roster. Also ‘SC QB Matt Wittik could surprise people in this one.