Amazingly, Greg Oden is playing Meaningful NBA Minutes Again

greg-oden-returnsIt’s safe to say that Greg Oden’s professional basketball career hasn’t gotten off to a very good start. In fact, some people already consider Oden to be a major draft bust since injuries have prevented him from seeing much of the court.

After averaging 15.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG and 3.3 BPG in his lone season at Ohio State, the 7-footer was drafted number one overall by the Portland Trailblazers. Unfortunately, he didn’t play a single game in his first year after undergoing microfracture surgery before the preseason even started.

Oden finally got to debut as a rookie in the 2008-2009 season. He still missed 21 games and played through injuries, but managed to post numbers of 8.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 1.1 BPG. Oden started out the 2009-10  season with even better numbers, averaging 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 2.3 BPG. But his career was derailed again when he was carried off the court on a stretcher. He suffered a season-ending injury and underwent surgery for a fractured left patella.

Following more setbacks, Oden missed two more seasons for the Trailblazers, and the team officially cut ties with him in 2012 so they could create more roster space. Given the fact that he played just 82 games for them over a six-year span, the Trailblazers will always consider him a bust. But that doesn’t mean the former number one overall pick has given up…

greg-oden-returns-1He recently returned to the court for the Miami Heat. He signed a one-year minimum contract worth $884,293 in an attempt to revive his career. Seeing as how the Heat don’t exactly need a lot of help at center with Chris Bosh starting and Chris Anderson backing him up, they decided to bring Oden along slowly. And now, it appears as if he’s finally in shape and over previous injuries.

In four games so far, he’s averaging 3.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG and 0.5 BPG. Oden fills an important role for the Heat because of his size (7’0″, 270 pounds), and he’s a true center who could match up well with Indiana’s Roy Hibbert. Contrast this to Bosh and Anderson, who are also centers, but not exactly low-post bruisers.

We can only count on Oden’s role expanding as he gets better and more used to real game minutes. “I still got a ways to go,” he said. “I’m still not as quick as I want to be out there. There are still things I can get better at.”

At 25 years old and with multiple injuries throughout his career, Greg Oden may never live up to the demands of a number-one draft pick. However, he’s getting meaningful minutes once again, and with a two-time defending NBA champion nonetheless. It’ll be quite interesting to see if he can help the Heat win their third title in a row this season.

Miami currently boasts the Eastern Conference’s second best record (31-12), trailing Indiana and their league-leading 31-8 mark. The Pacers took them to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. And the Pacers are looking even better thanks to Paul George, Hibbert and the emergence of second-round pick Lance Stephenson. If the Heat are to make the NBA Finals again, the’ll need Oden to help neutralize Hibbert’s impact since there’s hardly anybody in the league who can match up with the 7’2″ center.

Miami has Slight Edge in 2013 NBA Finals Game 5 Betting Line

2013-nba-finals-game5After going down 2-1 in the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat battled back by winning 109-93 on the road in San Antonio. With the series now even, Miami is actually favored in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, despite playing one more contest in San Antonio. Here’s a look at how GTBets.eu has the betting line for tonight’s game, which airs at 8:00pm EST:

Miami  -1.5  (-110)
San Antonio  (-110)

As you can see, the favored Heat need to cover 1.5 points in this road game. Based on the way the 2013 Finals have gone so far, this will be no small task. However, it’s definitely worth noting that Miami’s “Big 3” finally got going as LeBron James (33 points), Dwayne Wade (32 points) and Chris Bosh (20 points) carried their team to victory in Game 4. This trio scored all but 24 of their team’s points in the win. Veteran guard Ray Allen also had a nice game off the bench as he scored 14 points.

San Antonio didn’t shoot too badly since Tim Duncan (20 points) and Tony Parker (15 points) combined for 50% shooting. Danny Green (10 points) and Gary Neal (13 points) were once again lights-out from the 3-point line as they combined for 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. However, it was the Spurs ball control, or lack thereof, that did them in.

Miami’s defensive pressure forced San Antonio into 18 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Heat committed just 9 turnovers, which was the biggest difference in the game. The Spurs have to do a better job of taking care of the ball tonight since this will be the final game played in San Antonio. That said, here are a few keys for both teams if they want to win Game 5.

Miami Heat’s Keys to Victory

2013-nba-finals-game5-1-2Dwayne Wade needs to keep it up – Going back to the Eastern Conference Finals, Wade has struggled mightily compared to his normal superhuman self. And his kryptonite appears to be a knee injury that’s been nagging him over the past few weeks. Some people thought maybe he should even be benched for the remainder of the Finals. However, all of this is forgotten after a 14-for-25 shooting performance that saw Wade pour in 32 points. If he keeps this up, Miami is a lock to repeat in 2013.

Keep swarming Tony Parker – Parker is what makes the Spurs offense click, but it was hard for him to get San Antonio into a rhythm with the Heat’s speed and length on defense. Many thought that Parker would create a huge mismatch with Mario Chalmers guarding him. However, Wade and LeBron have done an excellent job of helping trap the Frenchman and forcing the ball out of his hands. Wade was especially effective all over the floor after collecting six steals throughout Game 4.

Chris Bosh needs to remain a Force Inside – Another one of the Spurs’ advantages was negated when Bosh came through with a big game. He scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked two shots in a performance that overshadowed Duncan’s production. If he can continue giving Miami a big presence inside, it takes away just one more edge that San Antonio figures to have.

San Antonio Spurs’ Keys to Victory

2013-nba-finals-game5-1Taigo Splitter must do Something – Starting center Taigo Splitter has not exactly looked his best the past few games. But he reached a new low on Friday night after shooting 0-for-3, grabbing 3 rebounds, and committing 3 turnovers in 14 minutes of play. He was playing as if this were his first game in the NBA. Splitter must get back on track for San Antonio to have any chance.

Tony Parker needs to be Healthy – There were concerns over Parker’s hamstring injury going into Game 4, but everything seemed to be fine in the first half. However, Parker didn’t look quite as good in the second half and admitted that he stiffened up a bit. Much like Wade did last game, Parker needs to get some excellent pregame treatment and remain at full speed for San Antonio to win.

Manu Ginobili has to provide Support – San Antonio’s “Big 3” has become the “Big 2” after Ginobili’s disappearing act in the Finals. He’s been sporadic throughout the 2013 NBA Playoffs and has only provided glimpses of himself in certain games. Hopefully for the Spurs’ sake, he shows more of these glimpses in tonight’s contest because there’s no way San Antonio will win two straight series-deciding games in Miami.

2013 NBA Finals Preview and Betting Line

heat-spurs-nba-finalsThe 2013 NBA Finals are set with the Miami Heat looking to defend their title against the San Antonio Spurs. Miami made their way to the Finals after winning an easy Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers, in an otherwise grueling series. The Spurs have been resting for well over a week after sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies.

Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals starts tonight, and most experts are picking Miami to top an aging San Antonio team. This is especially the case when you consider how the Heat are opening at home. Here’s a quick look at the betting line provided by GTBets.eu:

San Antonio   (-110)  Over 188.5  (-110)
Miami Heat -5  (-110)  Under 188.5  (-110)

tony-parkerAs you can see, Miami is being spotted 5 points in this line. Of course, San Antonio is an experienced bunch and should not only make Game 1 close, but also play well throughout the series. Seeing as how this figures to be such an interesting matchup, let’s take a quick look at what both teams need to do to emerge victorious.

San Antonio Spurs’ Keys to Victory

1. Overcome the Heat’s Athleticism with Perfect Execution – When it comes to the key players in the series, Miami has a definite advantage in youth and athleticism. However, the Spurs are masters of offensive execution and move the ball better than any team in the league. They’ll need to continue this against the Heat and force them to play defense.

2. Shake off the Rust from the Layoff – San Antonio hasn’t played a basketball game since May 27th. That said, it’s easy to see them opening Game 1 with plenty of rust, which will hamper the perfect execution we just discussed. So the Spurs will really need to be focused mentally in the early going to avoid ugly turnovers and bad shots.

3. Exploit the Obvious Mismatch Tony Parker offers – While Mario Chalmers is a solid point guard, he’s up against the league’s top PG in Tony Parker. San Antonio will rely heavily on the Frenchman to give them a huge boost in this series.

kawhi-leonard4. Kawhi Leonard must slow LeBron James down – Two years ago, the Spurs traded popular PG George Hill for a draft pick that they used on Kawhi Leonard. The idea was that the athletic Leonard could eventually guard superstars like LeBron. Now it’s time to see if perception meets reality as Leonard hopes to at least slow James down for a couple games.

5. Manu Ginobili needs to find Something Extra – For years, Manu Ginobili has provided the Spurs with lots of offensive firepower. However, he’s definitely slowed down this season, which has been evident from the first two playoff rounds. But if San Antonio is to seriously contend with the Heat, they’re going to need everything they can get out of the Argentinean.

Miami Heat’s Keys to Victory

Dwyane Wade JaVale McGee1. Overwhelm the Spurs with Athleticism – It’s no secret that Miami has the more athletic team from an all-around perspective. And they need to use this athleticism to create turnovers and force San Antonio into bad shots. Miami should definitely watch some footage from last year’s Western Conference Finals, when the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder dominated the Spurs.

2. Make This the Big 3 Again – LeBron James may be the best basketball player in the world; however, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are supposed to be pretty good themselves. Unfortunately, Wade and Bosh were very inconsistent against the Pacers – something which nearly cost them the series. These two need to combine with James to get the Big 3 back on track.

3. Ray Allen has to hit Shots – Wade and Bosh weren’t the only ones struggling against Indiana. Ray Allen has also had a tough time draining shots and, at times, couldn’t hit anything during the Pacers series. Luckily, the Spurs don’t defend the corners quite as well as Indiana, which could free Allen up for some open 3’s.

chris-anderson4. Defend the Rim – Miami features solid shot blockers in Bosh (1.36 BPG) and Chris “Birdman” Anderson (1.27 BPG). However, this is about all the Heat have to defend the rim against a San Antonio squad that’ll feature Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter inside. Plus Parker and Ginobili will be cutting into the lane frequently and scoring at the hoop. So the Heat are going to need a team effort to protect the rim.

5. Contain Tony Parker – Miami doesn’t really figure to shut down either Duncan or Parker. But they can’t allow Parker to get comfortable and control the game tempo. A huge battle here will be the Heat’s pressure defense against Parker’s incredible ability to split traps.

Both clubs have their strong points and will be looking to impose these during this year’s NBA Finals. Miami is more talented, but San Antonio is fresher and features two future Hall-of-Famers in Parker and Duncan. That said, this should definitely be an entertaining series!

Pacers-Heat Game 7 Line at -7, Big Prop Bets being offered

miami-heat-indiana-pacers-1Few experts predicted this: the Indiana Pacers have pushed the heavily-favored Miami Heat to a deciding Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. This game, which starts at 7:30pm EST tonight (June 3rd), will decide who goes on to face the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals.

Assuming you’re looking to get some action on this huge matchup, GTBets.eu has the point spread at -7. You can look at the complete line below:

Indiana Pacers  (-110)  Over 180 (-110)
Miami Heat  -7  (-110)  Under 180 (-110)

As you can see, the Heat are being spotted 7 points because they’re the home team and considered more talented. If you bet on Miami to cover the 7 point spread and they do so, you’d win $100 for every $110 wagered. Likewise, if the Pacers lose by less than 7 points, a wager on them would yield $100 profit for every $110 bet.

miami-heat-indiana-pacers-2You can also see that the totals bet offers a fairly low score of over/under 180. The Indiana Pacers employ a gritty, defensive style, which has kept the Miami Heat from shining on the offensive end of the floor. With such a big game tonight, don’t expect anything less from Indiana as they look to steal a game on the road. But also don’t forget that home teams have won nearly 80% of the 112 Game 7’s in NBA history.

Moneyline, Halftime, 1st Quarter Bets

The GTBets.eu moneyline has the Heat as huge favorites since they’ll be playing in front of their home crowd. Here’s a look at the Eastern Conference Game 7 moneyline:

Indiana Pacers  (+280)
Miami Heat  (-350)

If you have a strong feeling that the Pacers will win, now is the perfect time to make your bet. A winning moneyline wager on Indiana would yield $180 in profit ($280 total) for every $100 wagered. As for the Heat, you’d be risking $250 to earn $100 in profit ($350 total). Below you can check out the halftime and first quarter wagers as well.

Halftime Line

1st Half Indiana   (-110)  Over 88.5  (-110)
1st Half Miami  -4 (-110)  Under 88.5 (-110)

1st Quarter Line

1st Quarter Indiana   (-110)  Over 44.5  (-110)
1st Quarter Miami  -2 (-110)  Under 44.5 (-110)

Prop Bets

As with any big game, you can expect a full slate of prop bets at GTBets for this Eastern Conference Game 7 matchup. There are 22 prop bets to be exact, and you can see a few of them below:

First Team to Score First Points of the Game
Indiana  (-110)
Miami  (-120)

First Team to Score 10 PTS
Indiana  (100)
Miami  (-130)

Total 3PT shots made
Over 13.5  (-115)
Under 13.5  (-115)

Points Scored by Paul George (Must Play)
Over 19.5  (-125)
Under 19.5  (-105)

Points Scored by David West (Must Play)
Over 16.5  (-140)
Under 16.5  (-110)

Points Scored by Roy Hibbert (Must Play)
Over 20.5  (-125)
Under 20.5  (-105)

Points Scored by LeBron James (Must Play)
Over 29.5  (-120)
Under 29.5  (-110)

Assists by LeBron James (Must Play)
Over 6.5  (-135)
Under 6.5  (+105)

Points Scored by Chris Bosh (Must Play)
Over 12.5  (100)
Under 12.5  (-130)

Points Scored by Dwayne Wade (Must Play)
Over 16.5  (+110)
Under 16.5  (-140)

2013 NBA Playoffs Betting – First Round Matchup Analysis

lebron-jamesThe 2013 NBA playoffs officially start tomorrow, which means there’ll be plenty of intense betting action! Assuming you’re looking to do a little NBA playoffs betting, it’s definitely worth going over the first round matchups. There are several battles that figure to be extremely entertaining to watch – especially if you’ve got money on the line. So without further adieu, let’s get to the first round matchups.

Eastern Conference

#1 Seed Miami Heat (66-16) vs. #8 Seed Milwaukee Bucks (38-44) – Most people firmly believe that the Heat are destined to repeat as NBA champions. That said, few people expect the Bucks to provide much resistance. Now Milwaukee does feature a strong backcourt with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. However, it’s nearly impossible to see the Bucks slowing down the Miami trio of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

Prediction: Heat win the series 4-0

carmelo-anthony#2 Seed New York Knicks (54-28) vs. #7 Seed Boston Celtics (41-40) – This series could definitely feature some fireworks based on earlier season drama between New York’s Carmelo Anthony and Boston’s Kevin Garnett. However, potential drama is about all this matchup will offer since Boston has been doomed ever since Rajon Rando went down with a season-ending injury. Paul Pierce and Garnett may help Boston steal a game; but Anthony, J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will be too much.

Prediction: Knicks win the series 4-1

#3 Indiana Pacers (49-32) vs. #6 Seed Atlanta Hawks (44-38) – Defense is definitely the name of the game for Indiana. They are arguably the best defensive team in the East, meaning Atlanta’s Al Horford and Josh Smith will have difficulty getting to the basket. If the Hawks are to win, they’ll need to lock down David West and Paul George, which won’t be happening.

Prediction: Pacers win the series 4-2

brook-lopez#4 Seed Brooklyn Nets (49-33) vs. #5 Seed Chicago Bulls (45-37) – Brooklyn features a nice trio of stars in Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams. However, Chicago is a very well-balance club with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer manning the paint, and Luol Deng providing a scoring boost. Plus Chicago plays better overall team defense than Brooklyn. Depending upon how healthy Noah is and if they can win the rebounding battle, Chicago can definitely take this series.

Prediction: Chicago wins the series 4-3

Western Conference

#1 Seed Oklahoma City (60-22) vs. #8 Seed Houston Rockets (45-37) – This should be an emotional series for Houston’s James Harden since he’ll be facing off against his former team. He and backcourt mate Jeremy Lin figure to be tough for the Thunder to slow down. But you can expect, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder to go relatively unthreatened in this series. However, the Rockets will probably steal one game at home.

Prediction: Thunder win the series 4-1

tony-parker#2 Seed San Antonio Spurs (58-24) vs. #7 Los Angeles Lakers (45-37) – This matchup would’ve been tough enough for the Lakers to win even with Kobe Bryant. However, Bryant’s Achilles tendon injury has him sidelined until next year and Los Angeles has almost no chance. Dwight Howard would have to play out of his mind and get some big-time support from Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan aren’t going to let this happen.

Prediction: Spurs win the series 4-1

#3 Seed Denver Nuggets (57-25) vs. #6 Seed Golden State Warriors (47-35) – The most interesting matchup in this series will be at the point guard position, where Ty Lawson faces off against Stephen Curry. Both players lead their teams in scoring, and this battle could ultimately dictate who wins the series. But as of right now, we think that Denver’s depth and strong defense will wear Golden State down over a seven-game series.

Prediction: Denver wins the series 4-3

blake-griffin-clippers#4 Seed Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs. #5 Memphis Grizzlies (56-26) – L.A. came on strong at the end of the season to take home court advantage in this matchup. That could huge pay dividends for Blake Griffin, Chis Paul, Jamal Crawford and the rest of the Clippers. But Memphis quite possibly plays the best defense in the league, and should be able to overcome the Clippers’ home court advantage in a close series. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will really have to come through for Memphis though.

Prediction: Grizzlies win the series 4-3

Make sure to check back in a couple of weeks for our second round predictions on the 2013 NBA playoffs.

NBA Power Rankings for Jan. 10th, 2013

In our last power rankings, we discussed how the Los Angeles Clippers have been on a pretty torrid pace. They won 17 straight games at one point and have ascended to the league’s top record. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs aren’t far behind the Clippers since they’ve both been playing some pretty good ball too. But have any of these teams passed the Heat for our number one ranking? Here’s a look at the answer…

1. L.A. Clippers (28-7) – At the beginning of the season, most people thought the other Los Angeles team might be in this spot. However, the Clippers are not only the best team in L.A., but they’re playing better than anybody in the NBA right now. Chris Paul has upped his assists over the past month and is averaging 9.5 APG on the season (second best in the NBA).

2. Miami Heat (23-10) – The Heat drop a spot in our rankings after losing three out of their past seven games. This certainly doesn’t bode well for the team either because they’re now departing for a five-game, West Coast road trip. While Miami is still our favorite to win the title in June, other players besides LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh (scoring 60% of team’s points) are going to have to step up.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (27-8) – The next couple of weeks will be extremely challenging for the Thunder since they go on the road for 9 out of their next 10 games. But at the moment, they’re only a half game behind the Clippers’ league-best record. Serge Ibaka (2.86 BPG), Kevin Durant (1.31 BPG) and Kendrick Perkins (1.03 BPG) are definitely making it difficult for opponents to shoot over this team.

4. San Antonio Spurs (28-10) – San Antonio continues to play really well after winning 9 out of their last 11 games. The Spurs are currently scoring the third most points in the league with 104.95 PPG. That said, it’s no wonder why seven Spurs are averaging at least 9.0 PPG or better. Tony Parker (19.2 PPG) and Tim Duncan (17.4 PPG) lead this charge.

5. New York Knicks (23-11) – The Knicks opened the year hot and quickly grabbed the NBA’s top record. However, it’s been rough sailing for New York lately after dropping 6 out of the past 11 contests. They’ll be without superstar Carmelo Anthony for tonight’s road game against the Pacers. He’s been suspended for waiting outside the Celtics’ locker room for Kevin Garnett following heated in-game exchanges between the two.

6. Indiana Pacers (21-14) – Just a few weeks ago, Indiana was struggling and looking nothing like the team that went 42-24 last season. However, things have changed in a hurry and the Pacers are coming off a win against the Heat. What’s interesting is that Indiana is second-to-last in team scoring with 91.23 PPG; however, they’re also holding opponents to just 89.46 PPG, which easily counteracts the lack of scoring.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (23-10) – Memphis climbs one spot from last week after winning their past three games – all of which were on the road. Backup PF Marreese Speights (10.8 PPG in January) has been a nice spark off the bench this month for the Grizzlies, which have previously lacked much bench production.

8. Golden State Warriors (22-12) – Having dropped their past two games, the Warriors fall one spot in our rankings. However, it should be
mentioned that one of these losses was on the road to the Clippers, which they’d previously beaten the game before at home. Golden State definitely has a nice bench led by PG Jarrett Jack (11.9 PPG, 5.0 APG) and PF Carl Landry (12.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG).

9. Houston Rockets (21-15) – Houston continues to climb the standings on the strength of James Harden’s scoring (26.5 PPG). He’s not the only one tallying points either because this team leads the NBA with 106.0 PPG, and eight players are averaging 8.9 PPG or better. If they can keep this up, Houston will definitely be in the postseason come May.

10.  Denver Nuggets (21-16) – Denver marks the seventh Western Conference team to appear in our top 10 this week. They’ve gotten here by winning 6 out of the past 8 contests – including one game against the Clippers. This has truly been a team effort since six Nuggets are averaging double figures in scoring. Danilo Gallinari leads the team with 16.2 PPG while Ty Lawson is chipping in 14.1 PPG.