I made one series bet in the first round one: Celtics -180 over the Heat. This line was a gift from the gods, and possibly Bill Simmons. I wonder if his negative opinion of his favorite team moved the line at all. The Heat had no chance to win this series, and it should have gone off at 7-1 or better. Probably the best series line I’ve seen since Celtics +170 against the Lakers in the finals.
I am as unhappy with my games-betting as I am happy about my series bet. I started out well, betting Charlotte +9.5 and Portland +8. I like both of these bets, regardless of the fact that I won them. When I believe a team is underrated in a matchup, and yet very unlikely to actually win the series, attacking the game 1 lines is how I like to operate.
Unfortunately, I bet these teams again, right after Stephen Jackson’s knee hyper-extension, and Nick Batum’s shoulder strain. This was ridiculous stubborness, particularly with Portland, because I was so incredulous at how bad a game coach Nate McMillan is.
The last game bet I made, taking Atlanta +2 in game 3, was also incredibly bad. There was simply no reason to bet them in this completely meaningless, throwaway game. And that’s before you factor in the fact that they are a notoriously doggy team, and have one of the worst coaches in the league. Bad, bad, bad. Let’s see if I can exercise a little more discipline in Round 2.
But first, a few thoughts on Round 1:
Bucks v. Atlanta: Name two point guards who are worse on defense than Derrick Fisher. If you picked Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford, you get the prize.
The only reason that Brandon Jennings has looked at all good in this series is that he is virtually unguarded. He is averaging 3.3 assists per game. This is a point guard? This is the “natural” passer that people were raving about? If you ask me, he can’t see the floor at all. He knows nothing about setting up shooters. With Bogut out, he’s nothing but a “me-first” player. And not a particularly good one.
Having said that, the difficulty the Hawks have had keeping Jennings and Ridnour in front of them is the reason this series is going seven.
Nuggets v. Jazz: In my pre-season predictions I noted that the Nuggets were the thinnest team in the West. It finally wound up biting them, and cost them their season. Losing Kenyon Martin was probably enough. Losing Nene as well made it impossible.
The Jazz lost their starting center as well, and have been missing Kirilenko for some time. But they have an incredibly deep roster. Playing Boozer at center and Milsap at power forward didn’t cost them one bit. It may have even helped them, for a short series of games. I love the rookie Wes Mathews. As predicted, he took a turn on Carmelo, and did a darn good job.
The Jazz’s run ends now. They have absolutely no chance against the Lakers. More on that later.
Bobcats v. Magic: There is no appeasing the Stephen Jackson haters, but for the one reader out there who might be interested here is my take. Jackson virtually single-handedly dragged the hapless Bobcats into the playoffs, while playing more minutes under Larry Brown than he ever did for Don Nelson. Unfortunately, it cost him. He was battling several injuries entering the playoffs, including a sprained finger that was far worse than Kobe’s, because far more painful. And then he hyper-extended his knee.
Yes he shot horribly. So has Kobe Bryant. But Kobe has a choice: he can facilitate for Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Fisher, Artest. Jackson had no one else to go to. There is not one single other player on the Bobcats who can hit a shot. Not one. Jackson and the Bobcats had no choice: he had to keep jacking.
Jack gave everything he had, which is what he does. If you want to ridicule that, go for it. I would rather ridicule someone who deserves it:
Lakers v. Thunder: Kobe Bryant threw Game 4, in order to make a point. In Game 5, which the Lakers desperately needed, he played the right way, and allowed Bynum and Gasol to shine. Wonder of wonders, the Lakers won by 20.
In game 6, in another throwaway game, Kobe again determined to play the hero. He held Gasol to 11 shots, Bynum to 6, while jacking up 25 himself. Fortunately, it worked out in the end, with Gasol putting back Kobe’s fall-away miss for the game-winner.
The adult cleaning up after the baby.
Blazers v. Suns: This series was over the moment Batum hurt his shoulder. Or, it may have ended the moment Alvin Gentry switched Grant Hill onto Andre Miller. Because Nate McMillan proved himself absolutely incapable of coming up with a simple counter.
McMillan is an indescribably bad coach. One of the most inflexible, non-thinking coaches I have ever seen. How many times have you watched a Suns game and not seen Steve Nash get posted up? Well, if you watched this series, you saw it happen six times. Because the Blazers didn’t post Nash up once, not even when he was guarding 6-8″ players. Not once. They were too busy passing into double teams.
Ridiculous. Horrible. The most overrated coach in the league. Next to Big Chief Triangle.
On to Round 2!
Celtics v. Cavs: I am sorely tempted to bet the Celtics +7 in this first game. Very, very tempted. This is what I think you will see: Lebron will be virtually unguardable, but will be playing, like Dwayne Wade, against a quasi-zone defense. In other words, one on five. But unlike Dwayne Wade, he’s good enough to pick it apart with the pass.
Shaq will look indescribably bad on offense, going against Perkins and Big Baby, with Garnett and Wallace helping. Shaq will also look indescribably bad on defense, trying to guard Rajon Rondo in the pick and roll.
Rajon Rondo will eat Mo Williams alive.
Handicap that how you will. I will not be betting, because I have sworn a blood oath not to bet against Lebron in these playoffs. Go in peace, David Stern.