Um, the Warriors are -2.5 FAVORED against the Suns tonight? For those following along, The Warriors Bet is off, and now that I see this line I think it will remain off. Bookies never remain behind the curve for long, and they have had ample time to size up this Warriors squad and review their mistakes. I don’t see any edge in this bet, and will be following Feltbot’s First Law of Sportsbetting:
Never give a bookie an even break.
For what it’s worth, this injury-shortened play was 3-1 for me, earning me 1.8 units. (I lost the juice an extra time when I got late notice that Lee’s arm was in danger of amputation and was forced to cover [thanks Aperacer!].)
Before I even initiated the bet, the Warriors were 3-1 against the spread. So they opened the year 6-2 ATS. A fact that I am going to file in my notebook for future reference. When you know for a certainty that a team is grossly undervalued coming into the season, the time to start betting them is the very first game. There is a temptation to wait to see your vision confirmed on the court first — which I succumbed to — but it should probably be resisted. You may take some lumps while the team establishes chemistry, but if your initial judgement was correct, catching the first run ATS will more than make up for it.
One other thing I’m filing in my notebook: The Miami Heat entered this season as the antithesis of the Warriors. They were possibly the most over-hyped team in history, and their lines reflected it. Quite obviously, if you had bet against them you would have netted a lot of steak dinners. I don’t want to be results-oriented here, which is the enemy of clear thinking in sportsbetting as well as in poker, but I think the same basic principle applied to the Heat as applied to the Warriors. Mispricing due to media expectations. There was edge in betting against them.
I never considered betting against the Heat because I was rooting so heavily for what I wanted to see from them on the court. If only someone had told me beforehand that Eric Spoelstra was planning to make what could be the greatest running team in the history of basketball walk the the ball up the court and play half-court offense with no shooters! If I had known that, the Thaiblonde would be up to her neck in ribeyes, black and blue, please.
Oh yes, is there a game tonight? Lets get back to the Suns. I am astonished at how well they have been performing, with Stoudemire surgically excised from the team, and the bleeding wound being stuffed alternately with a Lopez imposter, someone who resembles Hedo Turkoglu, facially, and Hakim Warrick. This is a testament to the extraordinary powers of Steve Nash. He is still playing like an all-time great, even at the age of 36, even with a bad back, and even though he can’t play a lick of defense. This is partly because he is a basketball god (and should be worshiped accordingly), but also partly because under the great Alvin Gentry he plays in the right system. A system that accentuates all of his great attributes, and masks his worst.
If only the same thing could be said of the system Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis currently play in. I will lay 100-1 on the proposition that this is a principle that Kirk Lacob, Director of Basketball Operations — and coordinator of The Dividing Rebounds by Minutes Played Research Project — will never grasp.
This game will be an interesting test for Keith Smart. San Antonio ran the Warriors off the court. Will Smart allow the Suns to do the same?
The Suns play a spread-center in Channing Frye. How will Smart guard him out at the three point line? Biedrins? Lee? That will pull one of the Warriors best rebounders out of the lane and open the floor for Nash.
Don Nelson guarded Frye with Anthony Morrow. A brilliant move that completely threw off the Suns offense, and kept the Warriors big men in the lane to protect the basket. I’m pretty sure that Keith Smart, in contract mode, doesn’t have the cojones to try something similar. But maybe he’ll surprise me.
Hakim Warrick will be an interesting player to watch. Recently promoted to the starting lineup, he has rapidly established chemistry with Nash in the pick and roll. As Warrick is quicker than Lee, Biedrins might be the best answer here.
And of course, old friend JRich will be in the house. He’s getting a lot more looks now that the ManChild is gone, and responding with a career year. Monta will have to stick close, and avoid those brain dead touch fouls.
But Nash of course is the key. Nellie beat him last season by asking Curry to sag off him, and force him to take his own shot. Nash lit the Warriors up for over 30, but tired down the stretch and lost the game. Did Keith Smart absorb that lesson? Does he have that kind of genius in his repetoire?
This game will be all about small ball and matchups, and which team is best and fastest at pushing the ball up the court. It’s the kind of game that Nellie and Gentry delight in and excel at. How will Keith Smart feel about it? Will he loosen the reins of his racehorses?
I can tell you this: if at any point in this game you see Dan Gadzuric playing alongside Biedrins or Lee , the Warriors will lose by double digits.