Underdogs faring Well in First Round of 2014 NBA Playoffs

2014-nba-playoffs-underdogsHome court advantage is always nice in the NBA Playoffs. But it by no means guarantees a team of winning a series. Case in point, just look at the insanity that we’re witnessing in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs right now:

Eastern Conference

#1 Seed Indiana Pacers – 2 Wins
#8 Seed Atlanta Hawks – 3 Wins

#4 Seed Chicago Bulls – 1 Win
#5 Seed Washington Wizards – 4 Wins, advances to conference semifinals

#3 Seed Toronto Raptors – 2 Wins
#6 Seed Brooklyn Nets – 2 Wins

#2 Seed Miami Heat – 4 Wins, advances to conference semifinals
#7 Seed Charlotte Bobcats – 0 Wins

Western Conference

#1 Seed San Antonio Spurs – 2 Wins
#8 Seed Dallas Mavericks – 2 Wins

#4 Seed Houston Rockets – 1 Win
#5 Seed Portland Trailblazers – 3 Wins

#3 Seed L.A. Clippers – 3 Wins
#6 Seed Golden State Warriors – 2 Wins

#2 Seed Oklahoma City Thunder – 2 Wins
#7 Seed Memphis Grizzlies – 3 Wins

2014-nba-playoffs-underdogs-1As you can see, the only favorite to finish off their series so far is the Miami Heat. The underdog Wizards are the lone other team that’s advanced to the conference semifinals.

As for the rest, the top seeds in both conferences are struggling to win, with Indiana actually on the ropes as they head to Atlanta for Game 6. Oklahoma City, the West’s number-two seed, is in a similar situation to Indiana as they face elimination in Memphis.

The number-three seeds are also locked in struggles. Toronto is tied up with Brooklyn while the Clippers lead Golden State by one game. As for the latter, L.A. has actually hung tough when you consider the terrible ordeal they’ve gone through regarding Donald Sterling’s racist comments.

Finally, we come to the Houston Rockets – everybody’s dark horse to win the NBA Championship at the start of the season. You have to feel for Houston because they’ve lost three games by a combined 12 points. And their inability to win three close contests has them now needing to win three straight games. Only eight teams have rallied from a 3-1 deficit, so the Rockets will have to join historic company if they want to advance to the semifinals.

All in all, the 2014 NBA Playoffs have already offered plenty of excitement and upsets. Both the Hawks and Grizzlies are on the verge of HUGE upsets, while a few other underdogs are also within striking distance. That said, there’s never been a better time to go with the underdogs when betting on the NBA Playoffs. So if you have a good feeling about one of the series that we’ve covered so far, then put down a little money on it.

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.

Brandon Roy’s Career comes to Sad End with Timberwolves

NBA: Preseason-Chicago Bulls at Minnesota TimberwolvesThree years ago, Brandon Roy was an NBA-Star averaging 21.5 PPG, 4.7 APG and 4.4 RPG. Now, at the age of just 28, it appears as if his career has officially ended.

Roy was waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves over the weekend. He started the first five games of the season and averaged 5.8 PPG while shooting 31.4% from the field. His performance was definitely affected by a preseason collision, and his chronic knee problems quickly resurfaced after this. Roy then underwent arthroscopic surgery in an attempt at getting back on the court. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out and he never suited up for Minnesota again.

Now this isn’t the first time that Roy retired since he did so before last year. He suffered from terrible bone-on-bone pain in his knees and had to end his Portland Trailblazers career after the 2010-2011 season.

Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State WarriorsBut after a full year of rest and an advanced surgery procedure, Roy was healthy enough to come out of retirement. A healed Brandon Roy was definitely an attractive prospect so the T-Wolves signed him to a two-year, $10 million deal. The hope was to create an exceptional backcourt with point guard Ricky Rubio dishing out assists to Roy.

Training camp was going pretty well, and it looked like Minnesota might have one of the top backcourts in the Western Conference. However, the aforementioned preseason collision was the beginning of his downfall. And following the knee surgery after the first five regular season contests, Roy kept trying to return. But the pain kept returning as well and he never played another game.

brandon-roy-portland-1Seeing as how Roy was hardly able to play and had little prospect of ever returning to his three-time All-Star form, it was an easy cut for Minnesota. This is especially the case when you consider that the second year of Roy’s contract wasn’t guaranteed.

As sad as it is to see Roy’s career come to an end this way, it will definitely help Minnesota out in the offseason. They clear $5.3 million of cap space and now have a better opportunity at picking up sought-after shooting guards this summer. Kevin Martin and O.J. Mayo are definitely a couple of players the Timberwolves will consider.

But the real story here is how Roy’s playing days are most likely finished. In six seasons, he averaged 18.8 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.4 RPG and 1.0 SPG. He also shot 34.8% from the three-point line and 80.0% from the free throw line.

Roy won the 2007 Rookie of the Year award, made the 2009 All-NBA Second Team, and the 2010 All-NBA Third Team. As mentioned before, he also made the All-Star team three straight years from 2008-2010. If not for injuries, we can only imagine how many more All-Star appearances and accolades he would’ve racked up.