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PB: Warriors/Thunder means plenty tonight

Thread Starter PB: Warriors/Thunder means plenty tonight
David Malinsky
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Point Blank – March 20, 2017

Warriors/Thunder means plenty tonight (Enes Kanter will sure as hell never be Wilt Chamberlain, but take a look at the numbers)…And in the Big Dance, a quick Conference Call (did the ACC just have the worst second round ever)…

It is not all that unusual to wake up a little punchy on this particular Monday, a feeling that many of you can probably relate to – four consecutive days of wall-to-wall college basketball can do that. What was expected to be a wide open tournament with no dominant teams has turned out to be just that, and as the Sweet 16 approaches there is a legit question – just which of the teams left can’t honestly win this thing?

A big part of the focus here this week will go towards those matchups – it will be “The Game Inside the Game” across each of the regionals beginning with the Midwest here tomorrow, then the West on Wednesday, East on Thursday and South on Friday. I’ll touch upon some of the intriguing conference notions in a moment, but first the focus shifts to the NBA, where the playoffs may still be a month away, but there are key positioning elements leading up to those brackets taking place already, the battle for the seeds wide open in both conferences.

I’ll also begin the week with the jukebox plugged in, and for once losing a great does not have to bring a note of sadness into play but instead appreciation – Chuck Berry lived beyond his 90th birthday, and we just can’t ask for much more from life. It would be almost impossible to fully state the impact that he had on the emergence of Rock and Roll, and if there is a lament it is that his guitar playing was held back just a bit, so much of his musical career based on the crafting of a song instead of just letting the fingers soar on stage. For proper tribute, here is one of the true masters just having some fun with Eric Clapton and Keith Richards -

Now back to the hardwoods, and even though Kevin Durant will not be around this time, there are reasons for some high drama to take place in Oklahoma City.

Item: It really is “Game On” out West

So much has changed in the Western Conference since Durant’s injury, Golden State not just looking vulnerable, but having those vulnerabilities reflected in the shifting of the standings – it is just a two-game lead over the Spurs for the top seed, and the growing realization that there is not going to be an easy playoff series anywhere. Denver is currently sitting as the first-round opponent, and the Nuggets are #5 across the entire NBA in net offense/defense PP100 since the All Star break.

It is in the second round where the challenge gets far more serious than once perceived, and the prospects are very real that the Warriors could be up against Oklahoma City, and potentially still be without Durant for that confrontation. That puts tonight’s showdown under the microscope, because there is a lot to see. The Thunder nearly won the series last May because they had superior size and depth around the basket, and those matchup elements are even more pronounced now.

Let’s start from the OKC side of the equation, and as noted here last Tuesday, it was time to start paying attention now that all hands are on deck. The Thunder stumbled in the fourth quarter at Portland in the first game with Victor Oladipo back, but since then it has been a 5-0 SU and ATS run in which they have beaten the market expectations by 54 points, for 10.8 per game. Included in that run was a commanding 102-92 win over San Antonio, a night they led by as many as 20 points. What was once a depth-shy team is now one that has been reconfigured to play with a high level of energy – Taj Gibson being moved into the starting lineup to add some veteran savvy, which takes pressure off of Domantas Sabonis, and when Sabonis is combined with Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott, plus the development of Alex Abrines while Oladipo was sidelined, Billy Donovan now has options. Those options could also mean Russell Westbrook not having to go as hard down the stretch, in order to save energy for the playoffs.

Item: On Enes Kanter’s recent production

Why haven’t the markets picked up on Oklahoma City improvements yet? Sometimes when a guy considered to be a role player goes on a run it simply isn’t fully appreciated, and that is the story with Kanter. While his defense remains poor there are few big men with better offensive skills, and by bringing him off the bench, Donovan can expose matchups against opponents that lack size and depth in the front-court. Like the Warriors.

Kanter struggled in his first game back from injury, but like Oladipo perhaps the injury can be considered to be a plus – each has saved some wear and down by having down-time, which leaves them fresher come playoff time. Over the last 11 outings since that unproductive return game, Kanter has scored 166 points and grabbed 82 rebounds while playing 184:14. Those base numbers may not cause anyone to do much more than have a quick blink until you look at them this way –

Production per 48 minutes

PPG:   43.3

RPG:   21.4

  

Over those last 11 games, Kanter’s production rate has been Chamberlain-esque. No, he will never be in that league, not even in his own dreams, but it does show the kind of tool that he brings to the overall OKC picture. And with him being healthy again, plus the addition of Gibson, the Thunder have not just been the NBA’s top rebounding team since the All Star break, but the top by a significant margin –

NBA Rebounding, post All-Star game

1. OKC                55.0

2. MINNESOTA   53.1

3. UTAH              52.8

4. TORONTO      52.5

5. PORTLAND     52.3

In truth the Thunder have been even better than that when we consider the difficulty of opposition in the category – in their 12 post-break games they have played the Jazz and Trail Blazers twice, and also the Raptors once. For comparison, Golden State in that same span is #18 at 49.5, and it raises some key questions tonight – can the Warriors hold their own on the boards, and where does Steve Kerr go with his rotation in this matchup now, and again in May.

Item: Did Golden State catch a second wind at home last week or was it more a case of weak competition

The Warriors were on a three-game losing streak when they returned home last week, Kerr having mailed in the final leg of a back-to-back vs. San Antonio by giving his key cogs the night off, and then two more days of rest before returning to the court. In the return they were shockingly behind by 12 points in the fourth quarter vs. the 76ers before rallying to win, and the follow up were easy wins over Orlando (122-92) and Milwaukee (117-92).

Did Golden State find a comfort zone in those wins? I will bring that question to the forefront while watching tonight, because there are real questions about the rotation. Curry/Green/Thompson/Iguodala are all set, but look at the scramble among the others over those last three games -

                  BUCKS     MAGIC      76ERS

Pachulia    12:05         21:24         12:28

McCaw      15:25         19:50         13:44

Barnes       24:04         20:14         22:13

Clark          17:54         19:53         11:46

Livingston  17:36         18:47         11:58

West          12:13         12:19         11:11

There is a lot to process through in this matchup, and while doing the charting for the long-term purposes ahead, I will have about a half of a position on #612 OKC (8:00 Eastern) at +2 in pocket, +3 being the go price for a full investment. I don’t believe this is the proper price point for where these teams are overall right now, and in particular for the way they match up against each other (although as the morning trading plays out the +2 is already becoming scarce).

Item: Conference Call Time - did the ACC just have the worst tournament second round ever

The varying performances by the respective conferences has been rather stunning as the field got reduced to 16 teams. The Big 10 was considered to have had a down year and not much at all was thought of the SEC, while the ACC was considered to be in a tight battle with the Big 12 for the best conference in the nation this season. Here is how things look among the leagues that still have a team in play (listing in order of their ATS success) -

                  SU    ATS

PAC 12      8-1    7-1-1

BIG 10       8-4     8-4

SEC           7-2     6-3

BIG 12       8-3     7-4

BIG EAST  5-5     4-6

WCC          3-1     1-3

ACC           7-8     2-13

Want to play oddsmaker for a moment? What price would you have put on the SEC (five teams in the field) having more Sweet 16 representatives than the ACC (nine teams), if you had been asked to do that last week.

Here is where it gets particularly stunning – in going 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS in the second round, the ACC teams lost to the closing market price by 90.5 points, for a tick more than 15 per game. And of course if you followed closely North Carolina’s survival was certainly not easy, the Tar Heels trailing 65-60 vs. Arkansas before going on that late 12-0 run.

There is a lot to sort through here, both in leading to the Sweet 16 matchups, and also in doing the various post-mortems on this particular season. But while doing some of that sorting there is also a ticket to get into play this evening…

In the Sights, NIT…

Wichita State showed in two solid tournament performances that the Shockers deserved far better than a #10 seed, and may have also given us another piece of evidence – that Illinois State belonged in the Big Dance as well. So after seeing the Redbirds pull away from UC-Irvine in their NIT opener, I believe this is a fair price range in another game their defense can dominate. That makes #616 Illinois State (7:00 Eastern) worthy of investment this evening, with -5.5 easy to find in the Monday trading, and perhaps the prospect of a -5 showing up (and bingo, the early markets have now helped us out, with as low as -4.5 having become available).

One of my preferred matchup modes is bucking the short road underdog that will have trouble scoring, and the end-game in this one will likely mean the Golden Knights having to play from behind on the road. While their size has led to a solid defensive season they struggle so mightily to convert on the other end, rating #170 in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, and a horrific #334 in TO%. They are up against a Redbird defense that is #18 in the land, and does not show a weakness across any category, Dan Muller having the depth to have his team guard tenaciously for the full 40 minutes.

Yes, UCF does bring the matchup issue of a team having to cope with 7-6 Tacko Fell, but State got a bit of positive prep on that front in going up against 7-2 Ioannis Dimakopoulos from UC-Irvine last week, so that matchup is not all that new for them. I expect this one to be won by the Redbirds defense, and in particular note that with school back in session there should be a terrific crowd on hand to make things more difficult on the visitors.

 

The complete Point Blank Archive 

@PregamePhd (a work in progress, feedback appreciated)

puffkit
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dave i really like UTA tonight giving 5 to akron. Akron plays big in the middle w i.johnson but relies heavily on 3s (#9 in 3p as %ttl pts) which plays into UTAs strength as they defend the 3 very well (#30). UTA is 13-0 at home this year and are expecting the biggest crowd of the season. Bilbao's health is better....he stated abt 80% and also said they will be playing this game for Sr jalen jones who was inj in the SBC tourney and his UTA career is done.

Also important to note UTA coach moss stated defending akrons style is "almost identical to defending st.mary's" which was UTAs most impressive W of the year as they won @st.marys by 14. i know Sun Belt not on ur sched but having just been on akron i wondered ur thoughts on this matchup......

sportsinvestingtoday
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Hi David,

starting to see some -4.5s now on Illinois St.

David Malinsky
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puffkit

dave i really like UTA tonight giving 5 to akron. Akron plays big in the middle w i.johnson but relies heavily on 3s (#9 in 3p as %ttl pts) which plays into UTAs strength as they defend the 3 very well (#30). UTA is 13-0 at home this year and are expecting the biggest crowd of the season. Bilbao's health is better....he stated abt 80% and also said they will be playing this game for Sr jalen jones who was inj in the SBC tourney and his UTA career is done.

Also important to note UTA coach moss stated defending akrons style is "almost identical to defending st.mary's" which was UTAs most impressive W of the year as they won @st.marys by 14. i know Sun Belt not on ur sched but having just been on akron i wondered ur thoughts on this matchup......

I don't now enough about UT-Arlington to be able to offer much, except to note how damn impressive they were in taking BYU apart last week, but here is something worth following up on as the day unfolds - 

"There could be a wild card for the Zips in this game. Center Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson tweaked his knee against the Cougars. The focus until Monday will be trying to get him ready to play."

sportsinvestingtoday
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puffkit

dave i really like UTA tonight giving 5 to akron. Akron plays big in the middle w i.johnson but relies heavily on 3s (#9 in 3p as %ttl pts) which plays into UTAs strength as they defend the 3 very well (#30). UTA is 13-0 at home this year and are expecting the biggest crowd of the season. Bilbao's health is better....he stated abt 80% and also said they will be playing this game for Sr jalen jones who was inj in the SBC tourney and his UTA career is done.

Also important to note UTA coach moss stated defending akrons style is "almost identical to defending st.mary's" which was UTAs most impressive W of the year as they won @st.marys by 14. i know Sun Belt not on ur sched but having just been on akron i wondered ur thoughts on this matchup......

hi puffkit, 

I agree with you on UTA -5. 

Re: similarities to BYU.  A few things i have noted here, Akron is also similar in style to BYU, Mika down low and 3pt shooting. UTA had some difficulty in the 1st half adjusting but ultimately closed out in the 2nd half.   "We will have to team defend (Johnson) just like we did (BYU's Eric) Mika.....He is as good of a post player that I've seen. He has soft hands, is huge, has great post moves and can really finish......The problem is that they have great perimeter shooters throughout their lineup. Akron is definitely going to pose a big challenge for our defense. They are a great offensive team"  said UTA head coach Scott Cross

Re: Isaiah Johnson -  The Mavericks will have a lot of bodies to throw at the 6-10, 290-pound Johnson as five players stand between 6-8 and 7-1. The team has three double-figure scorers and three more that score better than eight points a game. And according to the Akron Beacon Journal "There could be a wild card for the Zips in this game. Center Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson tweaked his knee against the Cougars. The focus until Monday will be trying to get him ready to play."

Re: Akron scheduling - The difference is, while sixth-seeded Texas-Arlington has been spending time at home, the No. 7-seed Zips have become road warriors.  "I've been gone so long I feel like a pro coach Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. And he notes the players are out of their comfort zone as well. "They're about ready to lose their minds.''  The team has been in Houston since last Tuesday, opting to stay rather than go back-and-forth to Akron. The team then bussed to suburban Dallas on Saturday night. Overall, according to Dambrot, his team missed half a week of school for the MAC Tournament, then last week in Houston for the NIT.

Re: 3pt defense: UTA defense is 31% at 3PT at home 

Re: home court - "everyone associated with our program is excited about Monday's game....You can feel the buzz around campus and the community. People are very excited. When the College Park Center is filled, the environment is as good as any place in the country. I'm glad our players, especially the seniors, will have a chance to play in front of that type of supportive home environment." said UTA head coach Scott Cross

sportsinvestingtoday
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Hi David,

I believe there is tremendous value on Colorado State -4.5 this evening.

CSB beat Cal but CAL was without their two best players and it showed in a 1st half that produced a 44-19 score.  In the 2nd half CSB only made 5 FGs, the rest of their points came from the FT line, this to be is typical of their offense, which ranks 264th in the nation, and is aided by their conference schedule, as are a number of other metrics.  I played around with the kenpom stuff and if you switch back and forth from conference only to everything you see a drop-off in almost every category offensively and defensively.

CSB does not travel to this elevation often, Fort Collins 1525m, vs. Bakersfield 123m.  CSB did travel to BYU earlier this season with a 1st half graded at 47-27 before losing 81-71.

Colorado St. motivated here certainly their season, has a high-octane offense that just took down packline lite COC last week.

I believe the market is overvaluing CSB off that CAL win, home court here considering elevation challenge is worth 3.5 points, and CSU is better than 1 pt better than CSB.

At -4.5 do you see value on CSU?

Bama man
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Nice musical selection Dave.

David Malinsky
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sportsinvestingtoday

I believe there is tremendous value on Colorado State -4.5 this evening.

CSB beat Cal but CAL was without their two best players and it showed in a 1st half that produced a 44-19 score.  In the 2nd half CSB only made 5 FGs, the rest of their points came from the FT line, this to be is typical of their offense, which ranks 264th in the nation, and is aided by their conference schedule, as are a number of other metrics.  I played around with the kenpom stuff and if you switch back and forth from conference only to everything you see a drop-off in almost every category offensively and defensively.

CSB does not travel to this elevation often, Fort Collins 1525m, vs. Bakersfield 123m.  CSB did travel to BYU earlier this season with a 1st half graded at 47-27 before losing 81-71.

Colorado St. motivated here certainly their season, has a high-octane offense that just took down packline lite COC last week.

I believe the market is overvaluing CSB off that CAL win, home court here considering elevation challenge is worth 3.5 points, and CSU is better than 1 pt better than CSB.

At -4.5 do you see value on CSU?

That one is beginning to shape up, and I get a go at -4. Not only was Cal short-handed last week but largely disinterested, especially with the players fully aware that Cuonzo Martin was negotiating with Missouri, and there was also some roll of the dice shooting by Bakersfield, which made 8 triples the first half (some of them forced attempts at the end of the shot clock). The Bakersfield defense is legit, but Gian Clavell is the kind of one-on-one talent that should be able to work through it, and also note that the students are back tonight, which means a much better crowd than the 2,836 that showed up vs. Charleston last week. 

pmo561
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Does anyone know of a fantasy baseball rankings model similar to KUBIAK for football where you can filter your league's settings to personalize your draft board? If so it would be greatly appreciated.

pappahoops
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David Malinsky

sportsinvestingtoday

I believe there is tremendous value on Colorado State -4.5 this evening.

CSB beat Cal but CAL was without their two best players and it showed in a 1st half that produced a 44-19 score.  In the 2nd half CSB only made 5 FGs, the rest of their points came from the FT line, this to be is typical of their offense, which ranks 264th in the nation, and is aided by their conference schedule, as are a number of other metrics.  I played around with the kenpom stuff and if you switch back and forth from conference only to everything you see a drop-off in almost every category offensively and defensively.

CSB does not travel to this elevation often, Fort Collins 1525m, vs. Bakersfield 123m.  CSB did travel to BYU earlier this season with a 1st half graded at 47-27 before losing 81-71.

Colorado St. motivated here certainly their season, has a high-octane offense that just took down packline lite COC last week.

I believe the market is overvaluing CSB off that CAL win, home court here considering elevation challenge is worth 3.5 points, and CSU is better than 1 pt better than CSB.

At -4.5 do you see value on CSU?

That one is beginning to shape up, and I get a go at -4. Not only was Cal short-handed last week but largely disinterested, especially with the players fully aware that Cuonzo Martin was negotiating with Missouri, and there was also some roll of the dice shooting by Bakersfield, which made 8 triples the first half (some of them forced attempts at the end of the shot clock). The Bakersfield defense is legit, but Gian Clavell is the kind of one-on-one talent that should be able to work through it, and also note that the students are back tonight, which means a much better crowd than the 2,836 that showed up vs. Charleston last week. 

I believe the better play is on the Over 130.  These two teams show increases in both scoring and points given up over the past 30 days.  Additionally, and probably not incoincidently the pace of play both from a SPS  and Adjusted Pace are up during that period, and finally Floor Play (David's formula) is up as well.  When all signs point North.....

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