PlayBook: Five Paragraphs or Less

By Fraser Lockerbie

With football on hold for the week, we took a timeout to recap the NBA.

Life in the great Northwest is good for almost everyone except the Minnesota Timberwolves who are 8-10 but playing well enough to be in second if only they were seeded one conference over and in the company of the unusually soft Celtics and Knicks. As it stands now, they’re in last and New York and Boston are fighting over scraps with losing records while the 76ers run wild and away with an easy division without actually having to run anywhere at all.

This is bad news for people who like to drink whiskey and whoop it up watching basketball on cold, dark winter nights in January. Having two potential contenders underperform and age so drastically in the span of a year does nothing for bookies who take wagers on these sorts of things but it’s fine for folks like us who prefer a little fast action early in the season. The numbers say Philly is a defensively sound team and if we bet them to cover lines like seven and eight or nine we might just win. In fact, they’re averaging ten point differentials which will always be good enough to win a division or a conference and maybe even a title.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves now. The 76ers will be a wily investment when matched for seven straight games against teams like Chicago and Miami or even Orlando and Atlanta. Coming out of the East will be no walk in the park but the path is a lot clearer than out West where no win comes cheap. The Clippers and Lakers are constantly making a mess out of the Pacific and there are only five teams in the whole conference without double-digit wins.

If we want to get serious, I’d say the Thunder are an odds on favorite to win the Northwest; I’d bet the Lakers too at even money in the middle and Memphis at 3 or 4 or maybe even 5 to 1 ahead of either team in Texas, even without Zach Randolph. Dirk Nowitzki is done in this league. He’s got his ring and is mailing the rest of his career in. Ditto Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. The elder statesman of the Lone Star State are done playing basketball by either desire or design and the new crop of kids from Tennessee have waited long enough for their time in the sun.

And that’s the good news. The bad news is that the 3-16 Bobcats and Wizards still have to play 47 more pointless games and the 3-15 Hornets are still owned by a seething pack of vicious freaks hell bent on frustrating a fan base so thoroughly that they can move the team to Alaska and split the spoils among themselves. Most NBA owners can be easily compared to a howling pack of moral-less dogs and the ones who can’t are on their way out. The leagues’ executives are worse and headed up by an angry little man unpracticed in not getting what he wants. He’s resorted to everything from pandering to hostage taking and with any luck at all he too will be on his way out and we can have our game back.

And that’s that. Basketball in five paragraphs or less.

This Week’s Lines:*

Boston (+3.5) over Indiana

Old maybe, but they still have assembled some of the best talent in the league with Pierce, Garnett, Allen and Rondo. They’ve won three in a row and look to be shaking off some early season rust. With a three and a half point cushion this should be a lock to cover.

Orlando (-4.5) over New Orleans

Sure, Orlando just fumbled a huge half-time lead to Boston (outscored 44-15) but New Orleans has nobody. Well they have Eric Gordon but I doubt he alone can cover a four and half point spread without help even against the oddly defenseless Magic. This line needs to be higher. A lot higher.

New York (+11) over Miami

I just hate Miami. There I said it. I hate them.

*As opposed to handing out lines for every single NBA game, we’re going to give you some value picks. Bet wisely.


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