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NBA News and Notes: Zion to Miss Start of NBA Season

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The start of the new NBA season is just around the corner but let’s look at some news from the last week of the NBA Preseason as NBA odds boards at different sportsbooks see adjustments to the win totals for the teams.

Zion Williamson to Miss Start of NBA Season with Knee Injury

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, out of Duke, is expected to miss a “period of weeks” so we will have to wait for his NBA debut. The news obviously worries Pelicans fans because Williamson is expected to help turn the franchise around but he should not play unless he is 100 percent ready.

Williamson showed promise in his preseason debut, scoring 16 points with seven rebounds and three assists while entertaining the crowd with amazing dunks as the Pelicans beat the Hawks 133-109 on October 7 but we also witnessed potential issues in his game. Williamson took 13 shots (missed two 3-pointers) and eight of those were around the restricted area in the lane (he would make just three of them).

Jrue Holiday led the way against the Hawks with 21 points in 18 minutes, Brandon Ingram finished with 19 points and six rebounds, Lonzo Ball had nine points, seven assists and five rebounds and promising rookie Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 12 points, which tells us that this is a team with a deep roster that to me will be just fine in those few weeks without Williamson. New Orleans also signed free agents JJ Redick and Derrick Favors and they can make some noise in the West once Williamson comes back.

Bradley Beal Signs Contract Extension with Wizards

Star guard Bradley Beal agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Washington Wizards worth $72 million. The deal has a player option for the second year, which means that Beal can push his free agency from 2021 to 2022, seemingly keeping him off the trade market while giving the Wizards at least one more year to show him that they’re serious about their intentions to be a competitive team in the near future.

Beal averaged a career-high 25.6 points, 5.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds in 36.9 minutes over 82 games last season and he averages 19.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 34.4 minutes over 488 career games (454 starts) in seven seasons with the Wizards. Beal clearly wants to play for a winner, so now is up to the Wizards to prove him that they can build a competitive roster, unless they want to risk losing him.

Russell Westbrook Exits Preseason Finale Due to Finger Injuries

The Rockets ended their preseason slate with a 144-133 road win against the Heat last Friday but Russell Westbrook had to leave the game in the fourth quarter after re-aggravating finger injuries on his right hand.

Westbrook dislocated two fingers on the right hand in the game against the Spurs but he still played against the Heat. Backup guard Austin Rivers also left the game early. He played only seven minutes before experiencing neck soreness and sitting out.

“Both of them told me they were OK, so we’ll take that,” head coach Mike D’Antoni told ESPN. Westbrook had 16 points, four rebounds and four assists on 6 of 13 shooting in 26 minutes.

After Paul George demanded a trade to the Clippers, the Thunder worked together with Westbrook to send him to a team of his choice and James Harden wanted to play with him, so he convinced the Rockets to go after the 2017 NBA MVP.

Harden and Westbrook were teammates with the Thunder for three years and their Big Three with Kevin Durant made it to the 2012 NBA Finals where they would eventually lose to the Heat in five games. Adding Westbrook makes the Rockets serious contenders in the Western Conference as long as both players show a willingness to sacrifice.

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How The Hawks Beat Expectations At Home

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  • The Atlanta Hawks had an incredibly taxing season on their fans. The Hawks finished their regular season with a 20-47 record, the fourth worst record in the NBA, and an ATS record of 29-36-2. The Hawks were not invited to finish their regular season in Orlando. However, betting on the Hawks as home underdogs has been profitable for bettors. The Hawks were 15-10 ATS as home underdogs this season.
  • The Hawks faced large spreads at home as underdogs as their losses started to pile up. However, Atlanta has never been as bad as their record suggests. The Hawks’ second best player, third-year power forward John Collins, was suspended for much of the season for violating the league’s drug policy towards growth hormones. Atlanta’s win-loss record was a dreadful 5-21 in the 26 games that Collins did not play. The Hawks’ win-loss record was a more respectable 15-26 in the 41 games that Collins did play.
  • It should be no surprise that a team with as young a nucleus as the Hawks performs better at home than it does on the road. The five Hawks who led the team in minutes per game, Trae Young, John Collins, De’andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and Cam Reddish are all under 23 years of age and none of them have played more than three seasons in the NBA. Young players are naturally going to play better where they are more comfortable.
  • Atlanta’s ability to compete has always depended on the performance of point guard Trae Young. The first-time all-star was a much better player at home than he was away from Atlanta. At home, Young averaged 31.4 points per game, 9.9 assists, and shot 37.9% from the three-point line. Away from Atlanta, Young’s averages fell to 27.6 points per game, 8.7 assists per game, and just 34.1% shooting from the three-point line.

Misleading Win-Loss Record

Oddsmakers lost faith in the Hawks as their losses began to accumulate. Atlanta has been an ATS underdog in 55 of their 67 games. Their overall win-loss record is 20-47 while their overall ATS record is 29-36-2. However, the Hawks have been one of the best NBA picks against the spread for bettors as home underdogs. The Hawks are 15-10 ATS as a home underdog despite winning only 14 of their 34 home games. The Hawks have faced large spreads even at home because their win-loss record is misleading. Atlanta was a much different team this season with John Collins than they were without him.

The wheels came off the Hawks’ season when the NBA suspended Collins for 25 games after he tested positive for growth hormone. Collins is the second-best player on the Hawks and is one of their future building blocks. This season, the power forward averaged a career-high 21.6 points per game, a career-high 10.1 rebounds per game, and even shot a career-high 40.1% from the three-point line. Collins had the second best value over replacement player rating on the team and the highest win shares per 48 minutes of any player on the Hawks. Atlanta’s win-loss record with Collins was 15-26 while their win-loss record without Collins was 5-21.

A Young Nucleus

It’s no secret that young teams play better at home where they are more familiar with their surroundings and are not subject to the conditions of a hostile crowd. Trae Young, Collins, De’andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and Cam Reddish led the Hawks in minutes per game this season. None of these five players have celebrated their 23rd birthday yet. Collins was in his third-year in the league, Young and Huerter were only in their second-year, and Hunter and Reddish were rookies. The youth of the Hawks’ core is reflected in the disparity between their performances at home and their performances on the road. The Hawks scored 114.6 points per game at home but just 108.8 points per game on the road. The Hawks surrendered 117.4 points per game at home compared to 122.2 points per game on the road. With a young nucleus Hawks fans should have something to look forward to in the future and may even be the consensus pick as the NBA team with the most potential moving forward. 

Trae Young

Like most teams, the Hawks will only go as far as their best player takes them. Their point guard Trae Young is the Hawks’ best player. Young averaged 29.6 points per game, the fourth-best in the league, and 9.3 assists per game, the second-best in the league. The second-year player made the all-star team this season and has largely met expectations after the Hawks acquired him in the 2018 NBA draft through a trade with the Dallas Mavericks involving Luka Doncic. The Hawks made their backers money as home underdogs because Young played at a much different level at home than he did on the road. In Atlanta, Young averaged 31.4 points per game, 9.9 assists, and shot 37.9% from the three-point line. Away from Atlanta, Young’s numbers dipped to 27.6 points per game, 8.7 assists per game, and just 34.1% shooting from the three-point line.

Looking Ahead

Bettors will not have another opportunity this season to wager on the Hawks as home underdogs. Atlanta’s season is over as they were not invited to Orlando. However, bettors will likely still have plenty of opportunities to wager on the Hawks as home underdogs next season as oddsmakers will probably still treat Atlanta as a team not ready for primetime until they can string together something resembling a .500 season.

 

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6 Things You Can Do To Enhance Your Basketball Knowledge

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Are you looking for an ultimate guide to improve your basketball knowledge? Well, you have landed here correctly. I’m going to list down a few things that you can follow to continually study and learn the game of basketball:

#1: Join Coaching Clinics

Attending coaching clinics is an excellent option to improve your knowledge of basketball. It is because you get to meet coaches who have extensive experience in the field. You can seek their advice to learn more about the game.

There is no specific list when it comes to joining a coaching clinic. You can search online for a coaching clinic that is near to your location. This way, you can easily attend, and you don’t regret missing any session.

#2: Mastermind with Coaches

In today’s digital age, knowledge has no boundary. It is because great technology has to offer benefits to its users. You can now connect, meet, and mastermind with other coaches online. These days, it is incredibly easy to approach your favorite coaches.

You can do that by sending an email, writing a tweet, and texting on a Facebook messenger. You will be glad to know that so many coaches are willing to connect with sports enthusiasts. However, you are required to carefully design your message or query so that you can assure high chances of receiving a response.

#3: Attend Online Free Clinics

Up next, you can check on the online free clinics to acquire reliable information related to the basketball world. You can get access to tons of tutorials to watch online. If you don’t know where to look for such online free clinics, then you must visit the FIBA YouTube channel. It is one of the best platforms to improve your basketball knowledge because this channel uploads useful content and relevant videos to keep you updated with everything on basketball.

#4: Read, Read, & Read

If you are a true sports enthusiast, then reading books is one of the ideal solutions for you to enhance your knowledge. You must invest your time in reading books, particularly coaching autobiographies.

Reading is a sure way to gain knowledge about the former and current coaches, their struggles, and their success stories. You must understand that reading can be your best friend when you are looking to learn the game of basketball.

#5: Subscribe to Coaching Blogs

You can subscribe to useful coaching blogs, so you don’t end up missing out on any latest content published. You will directly get an email or receive a message on your phone related to new articles. You can click on the link and read the article when you have the time. In present times, there are a number of coaching blogs that you can subscribe to for valuable content.

Furthermore, you can visit lines.com for free online content. It is one of the primary sources for up-to-the-minute info on NBA, MLB, college basketball, sports betting, and more.

#6: Listen to Podcasts

The podcast is a new big thing in the field of media. Podcasts attempt to cover a massive list of topics and content to educate the audience. If you want to learn more about basketball, then develop a habit of listening to podcasts. You can listen to them while cooking, cleaning, and driving, just like you listen to your favorite music.

You should not waste your time if you hope to know with every little detail of the basketball world. It’s high time that you do yourself a favor and listen to a single episode every day for a better understanding of the game.

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The Houston Rockets Can Win The NBA Championship?

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  • The Houston Rockets have largely been dismissed as credible contenders for the NBA championship. Coach Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball lineups featuring 6’5 PJ Tucker as Houston’s starting center have been dismissed as gimmicks. However, there is value for bettors to take a flyer on the Rockets winning the championship at +1500 odds.
  • The truncated season works to the Rockets’ advantage. The challenge with the Rockets’ small-ball approach is that their players tire out through the course of a long season from having to expend so much energy defending bigger players. This concern should be mitigated by the fact that there are only eight games left in the regular season.
  • In the past, former MVPs James Harden and Russell Westbrook who both have the ability to majorly impact NBA spreads, have struggled in the playoffs after playing so many regular season minutes. Thanks to the four-month layoff, the Rockets should get the best of a fresh and rested duo of Harden and Westbrook. 
  • The end of the regular season and start of the playoffs may resemble scrimmages without fans in attendance. This environment should help a team like the Rockets that relies heavily on the three-point shot.
  • The Rockets are currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference. The team that ended Houston’s championship aspirations the two previous seasons, the Golden State Warriors, have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Shortened Season

It is tough to think of a team that benefited more from the season’s suspension and the shortened regular season than the Rockets. D’Antoni’s small-ball approach has plenty of critics. D’Antoni plays a short rotation where the tallest player on the court for Houston most of the time is 6’7 forward Robert Covington. Even supporters of D’Antoni’s approach worried that the Rockets’ smaller players would simply run out of gas by playoff time from having to play undersized through a long season.

With only eight games left in the regular season, these concerns should be alleviated. D’Antoni is free to run his short rotation as hard as possible without having to worry about exhausting the energy of his players. Houston’s opponents will have less time to adjust to the Rockets’ unique approach before the playoffs with the season almost completed. 

Harden and Westbrook

The Rockets’ championship hopes rest on the shoulders of the two former MVPs on their roster, Harden and Westbrook. Last season, Harden and Westbrook both played on average over 36 minutes per game, which makes them a favorite for NBA public betting and daily fantasy players.. They played so many regular season minutes that it negatively impacted their playoff performances. In the 2018-2019 regular season, Harden averaged 36.1 points per game for the Rockets while Russell Westbrook shot 42.8% from the field for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the 2019 playoffs, Harden’s scoring average dipped to 31.6 points per game while Westbrook’s field goal percentage fell off a cliff to 36%.

The Rockets will be getting a rested Harden and Westbrook for the stretch run. Houston should be hopeful that the four-month layoff provided Harden and Westbrook with enough rest so that their playoff performances will not decline like they have previously.

Three-point shooting

The NBA season will resume in Orlando without arenas filled with fans. The environment at these games will resemble scrimmages more so than professional basketball games. A scrimmage-type game should favor teams with an offensive arsenal that relies heavily on three-pointers. The Rockets led the NBA in three-point field goals made per game at the time of the season’s suspension. If you are a betting man keep your eye on the Rockets over under line for three pointers. This may be an easy way to make some cash during the NBA playoffs. 

The Rockets are a clear underdog to win the NBA championship. However, bettors should remember that the only team that has beaten the Rockets the last two seasons was the Stephen Curry-Kevin Durant led Golden State Warriors. The Rockets are worth a small investment at +1500 odds to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Clutch City.

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