What recap? I guess we could go all the way back to LAST SEASON, if we absolutely must (and the 174-148 season and playoff combined record is nothing to scoff at, especially considering that after November 22, that mark was an even-more-impressive 142-107). But, that's the past, and this is now. It's time to see how this wild offseason plays itself out!
Today: First, listen to the SEASON PREVIEW PODCAST HERE:
Next, get the DAN BEBE NBA 2010-2011 SEASON PASS HERE:
If that one doesn't fit, get my NBA OPENING NIGHT 2* SEASON-OPENER HERE:
Finally, read the blog!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics (Pk) with a total of 193;
Wow, it almost feels cathartic to write those team names. Baseball is a geek's heaven, and we broke down thousands of games. NFL has been hugely profitable, we've got a weekly blog going right now, but it's just not the same. But we're back, with full leantracking goodness, and it starts with this marquee tip-off TNT game! So, so awesome. I feel like I'm repeating myself a tad with thoughts on this game, at least when you compare it to what was said on the season preview podcast, but let's dig in. The Heat, as everyone on the damn planet knows, picked up LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and a host of veterans large and small to fill in all the open spaces left on the roster. Mike Miller has since gotten hurt, so the Heat grabbed older guys. It's a remarkable way to make a roster, but over the course of an 82 game season, health could be an issue. I like some of the complementary pieces, and of course, I love the "Three Kings,"....BUT...I do not love them early in the season. People will make a ton of the concept of chemistry early in the year, but it's a much huger deal with some teams than others. This game might be an interesting example of that. The Celtics grabbed a few aging centers to hold down fort (Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal) while Kendrick Perkins gets healthy, but Rondo, Allen, Pierce and Garnett are all still there, and Doc Rivers is ready to rock for something of a swan song. Miami, on the other hand, is just waiting out Erik Spoelstra getting ousted for Pat Riley, and the team is trying to figure out how to divvy up touches. There is no question in my mind - leans to the CELTICS and the OVER. I think a lot of folks are going to ask for an Under play, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Boston try to run early, and Miami try to run late, which could push the number up. I also expect a close game, which makes me think of free throws and extra possessions down the stretch. We might also see an extra technical foul or two, thanks to the League's new rules. Beware of this game, in all seriousness.
Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trailblazers (-6.5) with a total of 201;
The Suns are in for a tougher year. I know they've played without Amar'e Stoudemire before, but if anyone tries to tell me that the Suns will do this year what they did last year, I'll flip. Phoenix made a monster stride last year by winning on the ROAD, and the biggest reason that happened was Stoudemire. He learned how to play mad. We've seen Amar'e soaring above the rafters for years, making some of the most electrifying plays that any human being could ever make, but he never was the leader. Last year, that changed. He became vocal; he demanded the ball in the 4th quarter, and he scored or got fouled almost every time he touched it because, simply, no one can guard him. And then...he left. The New York Knicks gave Amar'e a buttload of money, the Suns couldn't match it, and Phoenix is left with Robin Lopez as their paint option. I am fairly confident in saying that the Suns are still going to have a winning record at home, where they will run their opponents right out of the building, and guys like Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jared Dudley, et al will MAKE those outside shots, stopping on a dime to launch a transition 3. They might make them in the first half on the road, too, but when the intensity ratchets up, and teams need a guy they can go to to get them points in the half court, Phoenix is going to be up a creek. Portland, on the other side, is a team wholly reliant on some damn luck. Very few teams (maybe Detroit, you could argue) have been as injury-plagued as the Blazers, but Portland has to feel like this is their year. Roy is healthy, Aldridge is good to go, Andre Miller has learned the system and enjoys it, Oden is due back, Camby is floating around. Portland is good, and they can play defense and shoot. They are also largely unchanged, a big edge early in the year. Plus, from a matchup perspective, no chance that Steve Nash can guard Andre Miller, and he will punish the Suns guard every time down, either scoring, or smart enough to know where to go with the rock if the Suns double-team. Leans to the TRAILBLAZERS and the UNDER.
Houston Rockets @ LA Lakers (-8) with a total of 196.5;
This is another game where I think the public will take the Lakers, and the fashionable might take the Rockets, but I would offer a word of caution. The Rockets, to me, are the team dealing with a tiny bit of turnover, and I'm very, very interested in how Yao looks in his first regular season game in forever. There is no question that the Lakers are a great FADE candidate throughout the season, and this line right here is almost assuredly off by a point, but in terms of times to bet against the Lakers, home openers seem a little dicey. There's this perception that Houston always plays the Lakers tough, largely because of a close, hard-fought Playoff series (the one where Yao went down), but yet, the Lakers have actually covered 6 of the last 8 against Houston, at home. And here, Houston dumped Trevor Ariza, Yao is back, Brad Miller is his backup, and to me, this team is going to be relying very, very heavily on Aaron Brooks to do their scoring, so if he doesn't shoot the lights out from the perimeter, how do they really win this game? Now, on the covering side, that's a slightly different story. We've seen the Lakers get up by 25 time and again, relax, and win by 7-12. I wonder, though, if having a deeper bench (which the Lakers do this year by signing Steve Blake and Matt Barnes) will help them keep those leads. I think both of these teams are overvalued, I guess is the short version. The Lakers are obviously a tad more overvalued, which is why there's some minimal value on the Houston side, but my leans are to a PASS on the side, and the UNDER.