Nba nerd

TheNBAGeek Vegas Bet Checkup

Before the season started, I went to Vegas and placed a few bets. I promised to revisit them as the season went on. I did it in November, and again at the end of the year. Since the Super Bowl is when everyone loves to go to Vegas, it seems like a good time to check in again.

Last time, I spent a lot of time talking about how we whiffed on the Pacers and the Blazers. Fair warning, I think I'm done with that topic (who wants to dwell on past mistakes?). Can we talk about how bad Andrea Bargnani is instead?

First, let's look at how things are doing so far. This is from the standings after games played on January 28th.
Team Bet Current Pace Bet Y/N/Maybe?
Knicks Under 50 33 wins $1,000 Book it
Hawks Over 40 43 wins $100 Surprisingly still in it
Pelicans Under 40.5 35 wins $300 Gotta Good Feeling
Celtics Over 28 26 wins $500 Rondo Ain't Helping Yet
Pacers Under 55 65 wins $600 Curse you, Lance!
76ers Over 17 25 wins $500 Bought a 76ers Tshirt
Jazz Over 25 29 wins $800 ****ing Pheonix From the Ashes!
Warriors Under 51.5 48 wins $600 Sweatin'
Trailblazers Under 38.5 59 wins $400 Fugeddaboudit
Celtics Win Division 2nd $40 Oh how times change. Meh
Jazz Win Division Last $40 Sunk Cost
Grizzlies Win Division 4th $60 Poor Start killed me
Pistons Win Division 2nd-but-yeah-whatever $20 JSmoove Experiment: Fail
Cavaliers Win Division 4th $20 Hahaha! Oh wait, I really made this bet?
76ers Win Division Last $20 I like longshots
Totals $5,000  

The Knicks under 50

When we projected the Knicks would win 35 games in our preview, lots of people were shocked. Sure, not a lot of people thought the Knicks were contenders, but our projection of 35 wins seemed crazy to some. But the gist of our message was: Andrea Bargnani really is that bad. And the internet, at least, appears to have caught on. I could post the now infamous failed dunk attempt, but I think this does a much better job of explaining his deficiencies (and please, give @cjzero a follow if you love gifs):

I especially love the little "WTF?" look he gives J.R. Smith, who correctly does not leave the corner 3-point shooter to help; he figures his SEVEN FOOT TALL TEAMMATE HAS GOT THIS.

Now, with Bargnani out, I expect that the Knicks will go on a little run (as long as Chandler stays healthy) – mostly because his minutes are being soaked up by the very respectable Prigioni, and Anthony is moving to power forward, where he traditionally plays like an actual all-star. But of course, that won't be enough to hurt my wallet or to prevent a first-round playoff exit.

Hawks over 40

This bet has been a bit close all season long. At one time, the Hawks were rolling; then Horford went down and I despaired. Since then, surprisingly, the Hawks have been just good enough to keep me in this race. Here's hoping that Ayon's minutes keep upticking. I know Ayon is returning from an injury, but there is no reason that Antic should be ahead of him in the depth chart; Ayon is a much better defender and rebounder. I imagine this boils down to the idiotic notion that Antic can "stretch" the floor with Millsap. I think Atlanta's wings are already good enough at that and it didn't seem to be a problem that Horford wasn't shooting 5 3s a game.

Pelicans Under 40.5

This is still close, but getting less so. With Ryan Anderson out, I like my chances a lot. The Pelicans remain a team with too much money tied up in mediocre guards and wing players. They gave away Noel for the priviledge of paying Holiday a fair deal (he's a replacement-level point guard and he makes nearly twice what Kyle Lowry makes). As I've said a million times, for replacement-level players, a "fair" deal is a raw deal for an NBA owner. If they can somehow trade Eric Gordon for servicable pieces, things might look up for them, but they gave Gordon $15m a year based on potential, not results, and so far, he hasn't lived up to it. As long as they have Gordon, they won't get the right minute distribution on the wing; Evans and Aminu would both get 35 a night if management wasn't concerned about "getting their money's worth" out Gordon, rather than just giving up on the sunk cost.

Celtics Over 28

The last time I wrote this, they were on pace to win 35 games, but they have been so bad over the last month that they are now on pace to win 25. Trading away Crawford and Lee didn't help, and Rondo is pulling a Derrick Rose move -- he's actually killing them (even in limited minutes) since his return. He clearly hasn't gotten his leg(s) back yet. It also hasn't helped that after a hot start, Jeff Green is back to being Jeff Green (didn't I say they should sell high on him? It's probably too late now). Frankly, as long as Green plays power forward ahead of the much better Kris Humphries, the Celtics will continue to struggle.

I'm still hoping that Rondo becomes Rondo again and the team pulls off a couple of 3-game win streaks. How hard can this be in the East?

Pacers under 55

For the fail cliff notes, see last issue. All I will say today is that Lance Stephenson is an all-star. Why are people talking about this as if it's a question and not a given? If the coaches do not vote him in, the privilege to vote should be taken away from them. For the first half of this season, he was the best shooting guard in the league, and I think I'd say that even if Wade had played 40 games. His True Shooting is at 57%, with an amazing 9.6 rebounds/48 and 7 assists/48, and before you bitch about his turnovers, his assist-to-turnover ratio (2.06) is better than that of many starting point guards. On top of that, he has exactly the kind of flair to his game that you want in an all-star game. No-brainer vote.

76ers Over 17

I'm still waiting for Hinkie to make a move and sell high on Turner or Wroten (the moment may have passed with Wroten), or to sell Hawes for anything at all (like Deng in Chicago, the 76ers won't want to sign Hawes at his price next year). And I'm still hoping that Noel and Moultrie play in the second half (I hear Moultrie is coming soon! Yay!). As I understand it, the thing with both of them is that Brown is a conditioning freak. Being healthy isn't enough for either to get back on the floor; Brown will work both of them really hard in practice before he plays them. 

Still, what we've always said still stands: they aren't a good team, but 17 wins!? Get the **** out. A lot of the folks predicting 17 wins were never fans who had to watch actual 17-win teams, or they'd have known that the difference between bad 25-30 win teams and truly terrible 17 win teams is a big one.

Jazz Over 25

Last time I said, what looked like a sure bet has become a "well, they've gotta run hot". And...they're 7-5 since then. Not exactly blistering, but definitely enough to make this bet look like a winner! The Jazz started 1-14 without Trey Burke, and are 15-15 since. Remember how we thought the Jazz would be about a .500 team? A big part of that was how we thought that Trey Burke would be servicable. It turns out Burke hasn't really been all that great, but Jamaal Tinsley and John Lucas III were each so bad that Burke has made a difference (and, given his AST:TO ratio, I like his future). And wait, hang on a second...holy shit, is that Jeremy Evans I see getting around 20 minutes a game!? If he can crack the rotation permanently, then I like this bet even more.

Warriors Under 51.5

Despite the fact that Bogut has been a big X-factor for them, this was a solid preseason bet. The Warriors are one of those teams that has a great starting unit, and not much else, and key starters (Bogut, Curry) who have a history of injuries. In the West, that seems like a 45-50 win team, not a contender. They are going to make me sweat this one, though, aren't they?

Blazers Under 38.5

Since the inception of the three point line, 25 players have averaged 6+ three attempts a game and hit 40% of them. The Blazers have two of those players. They're probably going to hit 55+ wins. But here's the thing: if Vegas sets the O/U around that number next year, I'll probably take the under again; they are a good team but they ran very hot at the beginning of the season and I think that is skewing people's expectations.

Celtics to Win Atlantic

60-1 was pretty awesome last time, when they were at the time just a game or two back in 2nd place. But Stevens is looking a lot less like coach-of-the-year material and Rondo looks a lot less ready than they want him to be.

Jazz to Win Northwest/Grizzlies to Win Southwest/Pistons or Cavaliers to Win Central

By now, these are recyclable pieces of paper. Anyone want to buy them all in a package deal for $5?


76ers to Win Atlantic

This bet is still barely a +EV bet, and (still) only because of the 500:1 odds. It's a very longshot bet that Moultrie returns and gets minutes and that Noel plays in the second half and turns out to be amazing and that 35-40 wins can still take the Titanic. Shut up, it's only $20 and I did say "very longshot" and come on it's 500 to 1 dammit!

And that's the pre-superbowl round-up. Those of you who are heading to Vegas for the big game, have fun and place a bet on the Seahawks in my honor!