Are the Brooklyn Nets bound to miss the Playoffs?

new-jersey-nets-miss-playoffsThis past offseason, the Brooklyn Nets made some huge free agent acquisitions to vault themselves among the NBA’s elite teams…or so it seemed. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov was pretty clear that he wanted to compete for a championship now, so GM Billy King went out and got Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko.

However, these moves were costly because the Nets gave up several draft picks, leaving them with just one draft selection between now and 2018. In addition to losing the picks, Brooklyn also has the highest payroll in the league at $102.2 million, along with an $87.2 million luxury tax – bringing their total to $187.4 million.

So with a third of the season now finished, what have they gotten for all of these expenditures? A 9-18 record, which is tied for third in the Atlantic Division. Things have been ugly beyond just the record too. Rookie head coach Jason Kidd seems in over his head, and he had a large role in super-assistant Lawrence Frank’s demotion. His locker room speeches are far from inspiring too, as you can see from the following gem that he delivered after the Nets’ blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers:

Well I think it is getting very close to just accepting losing. We are kind of getting comfortable with losing. And we got to make a stand with that because when things get tough, do we just give in and most of the time right now we do.

jason-kidd-new-jersey-coachKidd’s rough coaching introduction and King trading away Brooklyn’s future doesn’t even begin to cover everything that’s wrong here. The team’s early season MVP, Brook Lopez, is now sidelined with a broken foot. This means the team will have to replace 20.7 PPG, 6 RPG and 1.76 BPG. Brooklyn has also sorely missed an injured Andrei Kirilenko, who’s played just 57 minutes this year. His bargain-basement signing this offseason is what truly worried the defending champion Miami Heat. But there’s nothing to fear when Kirilenko can’t stay on the court.

Even those who have been on the court have underachieved. Pierce is scoring just 12.6 PPG and shooting 40.2% from the field. Nobody expected him to play like he did a decade ago. But Pierce is really struggling to fit in with his new team. Garnett is even more disappointing, averaging just 6.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG and shooting a dreadful 37.5% from the field. At 38 years old, you have to wonder if KG is now on a steep decline.

Joe Johnson (16.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG) and Deron Williams (12.5 PPG, 7.6 APG) have both been solid thus far. But these two alone aren’t capable of leading a team to the NBA title. So if they don’t get some help from the supporting cast soon, you have to wonder if this overly expensive team is headed for the draft lottery.

What’s sad is that, even if they do get a lottery pick, the selection will belong to the Atlanta Hawks (via Joe Johnson deal). So it basically looks like it’s postseason or bust for this team. Their best chance currently resides in passing some of their foes in the awful Atlantic Division. Toronto currently leads the Atlantic with an 11-15 record, while Boston holds the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed with a 12-17 record. Boston is 2 games ahead of New Jersey, while Toronto is 2.5 games ahead of them.

Assuming Brooklyn can’t overtake either of these teams and grab a playoff berth, this could mark one of the biggest disasters in NBA history. After all, who wants to pay $189.4 million for a lottery pick that you won’t get to use anyways?

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)

How Danny Granger convinced the Pacers to draft Paul George

paul-georgeMost NBA analysts and experts fully expected the Miami Heat to run through the 2013 Playoffs and on to their second straight title. But there’s just one holdup so far: the Indiana Pacers are giving the Heat a huge fight and have tied the Eastern Conference Finals series at 2-2.

Pacers forward Paul George is a huge reason behind why Indiana is playing Miami so tough right now. He’s displayed the same all-around game against the Heat that he has throughout the entire 2013 regular season. What’s more is that George has even given LeBron James some difficulties on both ends of the floor. Interestingly enough, none of this may have happened if not for currently injured Pacers star Danny Granger.

Back in 2010, before the NBA Draft, former Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird was trying to decide whether or not he should select George. After all, the Fresno State product was still a relatively unknown entity, despite playing two solid years of college ball. Plus Indiana had the 10th pick in the 2010 Draft and didn’t want to take a leap of faith on an unproven talent.

paul-george-pacersAt the time, Granger was working out with George and had some inside knowledge of the prospect. And the two had a connection since they shared an agent in Aaron Mintz. So Bird called Granger in an effort to find out what his opinion was of George, but hadn’t gotten a call back.

So Mintz phoned Granger to convince his client to talk things over with Bird. As Sports Illustrated journalist Lee Jenkins wrote, the three-way conversation went something like this:

Mintz asked George, “Where do you want to go in the draft tomorrow?”
“Indiana,” George replied.

“Why?” Mintz asked.

“I think I can learn so much from Danny.”

Mintz hung up on George and asked Granger, “Can you call Bird now?”

Despite the fact that they both played the same position, Granger complied with Mintz’s request and gave a “glowing recommendation” of the fellow small forward. He would eventually tell Bird that George would be an All-Star by his third season – something which few other people around the league could’ve predicted.

danny-grangerHowever, Granger’s bold prophecy didn’t look very accurate in the beginning. As a rookie, George was a reserve who was mainly called upon for his stingy defense. He averaged a modest 20.7 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 1.0 SPG and 3.7 RPG.

George showed some definite improvement in his second season and blossomed in a starting role. He averaged 12.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 1.6 SPG while also shotting 38.5% from the 3-point line.

But this year is when George has truly stepped into a starring role. He made the All-Star team on the strength of 17.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 4.1 APG and 1.8 SPG. Granted, George has done this in a year where Granger has been sidelined all but five games with an injury; however, he’s still turned in a very impressive season.

And no matter how the current series against the Heat finishes out, the Pacers definitely have to be happy about Danny Granger making that phone call before the 2010 Draft.

NBA Power Rankings for Nov. 14th, 2012

After months of waiting, we’re finally seeing some meaningful NBA basketball being played. Thanks to this, we’ve gotten a chance to see who’s truly the best team at this point in the season. Now keep in mind that our power rankings don’t reflect how we think the playoffs will conclude, but rather who’s number one right now. This being said, here’s a look at the top 10 NBA teams.

1. San Antonio Spurs (7-1) – The Spurs had just about as many questions to answer as anybody else to start the 2012-2013 NBA season. And they’ve definitely answered these questions and then some after beating several top clubs and compiling a 7-1 record. Their lone loss was a road game to the upstart Clippers.

2. New York Knicks (5-0) – With Amare Stoudemire currently injured, the Knicks weren’t expected to have the greatest start. However, Carmelo Anthony is having an MVP-type season thus far, and J.R. Smith is shooting the lights out at a 72.2% clip from 3-point range. We doubt Smith keeps up this torrid pace, but you can’t deny that New York is playing excellent right now.

3. Miami Heat (6-3) – We still aren’t ready to be pushed off our preseason prediction of the Heat winning it all. However, they haven’t beaten any top tier teams yet and have lost games against other contenders such as the Knicks, Clippers and Grizzlies. It is worth mentioning that these were all road games though.

4. L.A. Clippers (6-2) – Jamal Crawford has come back down to earth after an extremely good start. However, the Clippers as a whole are still playing out of this world with wins over the Heat, Grizzlies, Hawks and Spurs. The only reason we don’t have them ranked higher is because of home losses to Cleveland and Golden State.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (6-1) – While we expected the Grizzlies to be good this year, we didn’t anticipate them bolting out to a 6-1 record. A big reason for the hot start is the improved play of PG Mike Conley Jr., who’s averaging 13.9 PPG and 6.9 APG. If he can maintain this, Memphis is a serious contender in the West.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-3) – Following a slow start and the trade of James Harden, the Thunder seem to be back on the right track. So far Kevin Martin has come close to matching Harden’s offensive production at shooting guard; however, the defense can’t be replaced in this situation.

7. L.A. Lakers (3-5) – The only team in our top 10 with a losing record is the Lakers. They’ve easily taken the cake for most disappointing start this year, and coach Mike Brown paid the ultimate price after losing his job. Now we get to see what Mike D’Antoni can do with a lineup that includes Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace……but very little else.

8. Milwaukee Bucks (5-2) – We knew that the Bucks would have a great backcourt this year with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. And they haven’t let anyone down either since Ellis is averaging 20 PPG while Jennings is dishing out 7.9 APG.

9. Chicago Bulls (5-3) – The Bulls make their first appearance in our top 10 after hanging tough without PG Derrick Rose. Luol Deng has stepped up his production (19.1 PPG) in the absence of Rose while Joakim Noah has also been solid with 16 PPG and 9.8 RPG.

10. Brooklyn Nets (5-2) – A new look and arena for the Nets seem to be paying off since they’re one of the East’s top squads. With Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and the newly-added Joe Johnson, Brooklyn has three solid scoring threats now.