Browsing Posts published in January, 2013

When the Brooklyn Nets fired Avery Johnson, interim coach PJ Carlesimo knew that this was probably the last chance that he was ever going to have at being the head coach of a team during his career. He is in the midst of a solid season, as his team is 27-19 and in second place in the Eastern Conference. However, losses like 105-85 home defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat are the types of ones that Carlesimo can’t afford if he wants to become the full-time coach of this team.

In fairness to Carlesimo, he has done a really nice job with this roster, going 13-5 in his 18 games as the man in charge. Making great NBA picks at a clip like that is the type of record that will give a man his job for quite a few years in this league, and that’s exactly what Carlesimo is going to try to keep up with going into February, which starts with home games against the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.

The New York Knicks remain on the heels of the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but will have  their mettle tested this week with a trio of game beginning Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks (27-15) will be coming off a 106-104 home win against the Atlanta Hawks—failing to cover as a 5.5-point favorite—when they face the bottom-feeding Magic (14-30). Carmelo Anthony continues to stamp himself as a legitimate NBA MVP candidate this season after prompting the Knicks to the winner’s circle with a 42-point performance that included the game winner with 12.2 second in regulation.

This work week will continue with a home game against the struggling Orlando Magic on Wednesday and will continue at the Garden with a weekend back-to-back against the Milwaukee Bucks (24-19) on Saturday night and the Sacramento Kings (17-29) on Sunday.  

The Brooklyn Nets are emerging as a serious contender in the Eastern Conference, but will get the litmus test Wednesday when they host the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

After a sparkling run that followed the firing of coach Avery Johnson beginning last month, Brooklyn (26-18) has come back down to earth by going 5-5 over its last 10 games. Miami (28-13) continues to hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but are coming off a double-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday that snapped a four-game winning streak.

These two teams faced off Dec. 1—prior to the Johnson firing and the beginning of the P.J. Carlesimo tenure—with the Heat coming away an easy 102-89 victor in Brooklyn.

As NBA picks, both of these teams have been mediocre this season. Miami brings in a record of 20-21 against the spread, while the Nets have gone 21-21-3 against the number.

The New York Knicks are already the oldest team in the NBA. They don’t have much that they can legitimately trade at the deadline, but if they are insistent in going for it this year, there are pieces out there that could be had for a package involving Iman Shumpert.

Shumpert is a defensive star and is a man that could really evolve into a fantastic five-tool player if he is put in the right spot. A team like the Orlando Magic would love to start to build around Shumpert, and they have the pieces in place to send back to the Big Apple to make the Knicks more competitive.

At 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, Shumpert’s numbers are suspect, but we certainly would make our NBA picks on him at least being dangled for trade bait before the trade deadline, especially now that he is back in the Knicks’ starting lineup for Head Coach Mike Woodson.

The Syracuse Orange will put their perfect record in the Big East on the line when they travel to take on the Villanova Wildcats on Saturday. The Orange are 18-1 overall and 5-0 out of the gate in conference play, while Villanova brings in an overall mark of 12-7 and 3-3 in the Big East.

Syracuse may be playing the best basketball in the country at present and are positioning themselves to be a No. 1 seed   . The Orange, which are an excellent 10-5 against the spread this season, is coming off consecutive two-point wins over then-No. 1 Louisville last weekend and Cincinnati on Monday.

Villanova had lost three straight in the Big East before also beating Louisville, 73-64 as an 11-point road underdog, on Tuesday. The Wildcats are led by forward Jay Vaughn Pinkston, who is among three players averaging double-digits in points for the Villanova.

The Brooklyn Nets have surged to fourth-place in the Eastern conference by winning nine of their last 10 games, and now look to continue that roll this week with difficult road games on consecutive days beginning with the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday and concluding with the Houston Rockets.

The Nets (25-16) resurgence under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo has largely been spurred by an improved performance on the defensive end. This development has largely coincided with the increased health of center Brook Lopez, who in addition to being the teams leading scorer (18.5 points a game) provides a much-needed physical presence down low for the Nets.

Brooklyn recently displayed their defensive dominance in an 88-85 win against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden as a 3.5-point underdog Monday. In that game, Brooklyn held the Knicks to 40.5 percent shooting from the field.

In Memphis, the Nets face a team that has been among the favorite NBA picks among handicappers, as evidenced by their 23-16-1 mark against the spread this season. That mark could certainly improve as the Grizzlies (26-14) have  been caught in a rut of late and have lost three of their last five games straight-up.

Houston (22-21 straight-up) is trying to snap out of its own rut, as the Rockets lost seven straight games before beating-up on the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.  

When the New York Rangers made a play for Rick Nash, fans knew they were getting one of the best players in hockey. Despite being largely overlooked in Columbus due to his team’s lack of success, he is now thrown in the spotlight as one of the best players on a team in hockey’s biggest market.

Many feel that Nash could be that missing piece for the Rangers as they make a run at a Stanley Cup championship. This shortened season definitely makes things a bit different, but early on, Nash has meshed nicely with his team. So what are the keys for the Rangers when it comes to Nash?

For starters, any NHL team can use more scoring. Nash has been a solid scorer for years, notching 290 career goals and 259 assists as the main weapon for the Blue Jackets. While that type of production is probably not needed on a much better Rangers team, he will still be asked to bring his level of experience to help anchor an already solid offense.

Where Nash really thrives though is during both power plays and penalty killing opportunities. Many matches hinge on these crucial minutes, and few players are as good in both of these situations. The majority of star players excel in either one or the other, but the Rangers, and those who own him in fantasy hockey can feel comfortable with him on the ice at either point in the game.

New York was a solid offensive team, but they were near the bottom of the NHL in power play scoring. They need Nash’s help here more, although his penalty killing can certainly make the Rangers possibly the best team in the league in that category.

The Rangers were the best team in the Eastern Conference a year ago, but with no Stanley Cup to their name, it was a disappointing ending to the year. Nash brings skill and leadership qualities to an already stacked team looking to take advantage of the short season to make a strong playoff push.

Friday night is a light night on the collegiate hardwood, but it’s also a night where the Metro Atlantic will star, as the Manhattan Jaspers take on the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds at Draddy Gym.

It would appear that making NCAA basketball picks on the Greyhounds would be the right call to make, knowing that they are in second place in the MAAC, going 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in six conference games. We’re not really all that sure against the Jaspers, though.

Manhattan has been losing games, but losing them in close fashion. The team hasn’t been beaten by more than nine points in conference play yet this year, and it does have an upset over the St. Peter’s Peacocks at the outset of the MAAC campaign. The Jaspers are also 5-1 ATS in spite of their 1-5 SU record since the conference schedule started on January 4th.

The Utah Jazz have always had a problem at the power forward position. They basically have three players in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors that are all the exact same player, and Enes Kanter and Marvin Williams are getting their minutes cut as well as a result. Both Millsap and Jefferson have been on the trade block for most of the year, and it seems as though a deal might be surfacing sooner than later which would send Millsap to the Brooklyn Nets.

This is a move that would make a lot of sense for both teams. Brooklyn is hoping to be a better team for NBA picks by getting stronger in the paint, and it can send back a package of players that revolves around G MarShon Brooks, who would finally get a chance to shine as a regular in the rotation in Utah. The Nets would essentially be replacing the combination of Kris Humphries and Andray Blatche, which really just haven’t gotten the job done at the PF spot this year.

Veteran J.R. Smith’s is in the midst of a career-year and that has played a large part in propelling the New York Knicks to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and into the legitimate discussion of potential NBA champions. Though it came in a loss, Smith recently provided the production with a breakout 25-point, six assist and three rebound performance against the Indiana Pacers that boosted his career-best numbers for the season.

Since losing three straight games earlier this month, Smith and the Knicks have won their last two contests both straight-up and against the spread, which includes a 102-87 win against the Detroit Pistons as a 5.5-point road favorite on Thursday. Next up for New York is an inter-borough battle against the upstart Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Knicks, which just a month ago dispatched of the Nets 100-86 in Brooklyn, are a 3.5-point home favorite according to the NBA odds. The over/under is listed at 193.5.

If Smith—who is averaging 16.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3 assists this season—continues to emerge as a reliable third option along with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks should continue to prove formidable this season.