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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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The Most Important Basketball Matches To Bet On In 2020

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With basketball and the NBA season set to restart on the 30th of July after a gap of more than 4 months, betting on the sport will now again be peaking. With that in mind, here is a set of 10 games that you need to think the most about putting your money on. This will be a list of important games to bet on, rather than important games to watch out for basketball action:

  1. Clippers vs Lakers, 30th July

The presence of the best player in basketball makes the odds lopsided in the Lakers’ favor. Their significantly superior record compared to the Clippers has given them the oddsmakers’ benefit of short odds on every remaining matchup. But betting on the Clippers in this game could turn out to be a really wise move.

Powered by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers can punch way above their weight and make you a killing on the +165 odds on offer.

  1. Celtics vs Bucks, 31st July 

Normally, when the best team in basketball goes up against the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, the odds are supposed to be shorter. But Bet way has offered tempting odds on the Celtics in this game, giving a payout of +170 despite the fact that they have 3 players averaging 20 points per game.

While the Bucks, led by Giannis, have been in rude form throughout the season, the Celtics beat them early in the season by 12 points. Going with the Cs in this game will be a handy basketball gamble to make. 

  1. Pacers vs Sixers, 1st August

The Sixes and the Pacers sit on exactly the same record (39-26). But the difference is that the Sixes are at full strength with the resumption of the basketball season, while the Pacers will miss Sabonis.

However, the line offered on Bet way of +195 on the Pacers is far too tempting for an avid gambler to pass up. You’d be well-advised to put your money on Pacers basketball for this game. Especially with the expected comeback of Victor Oladipo.

  1. Clippers vs Pelicans, 2nd August

The absence of Lou Williams due to a silly decision of going out to have chicken wings at Magic City will deplete the basketball roster of the Clippers for the first 3 games.

The Pelicans, on the other hand, will be at full strength, including the likely return of rookie sensation and #1 NBA draft pick in 2019 Zion Williamson. There are great chances that the Pelicans receive a +140 line or so and go on to win this basketball game.

  1. Clippers vs Suns, 5th August

The Clippers have gotten off to a sluggish start in the scrimmages, especially Kawhi Leonard. With the Phoenix Suns at full strength and Lou Williams likely to miss their first 3 games, there’s a good possibility that the Clippers will rest one of Leonard or George for this game.

The betting line will still be at least +140 in favor of the Suns, who will look to Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton to provide them with the scoring punch. A bet on the Suns wouldn’t go amiss on this game of basketball.

  1. Nuggets vs Trail Blazers, 7th August

The Nuggets are comfortably placed at 3rd in the Western Conference. They are likely to finish at that spot and have no basketball reasons to overexert their squad during the seeding games.

The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, sit at 9th in the Conference and will be aiming to make the playoffs. They are likely to receive a line of +1300 or better. Powered by Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Nurkic, the Blazers have a real shot at beating Denver in this game.

  1. Bucks vs Heat, 7th August

The Heat and the Bucks are separated by the significant margin of 12 games in the Eastern Conference. The two teams are well set to meet in playoff basketball given their status as the #4 and #1 seeds respectively.

The last time the Bucks played the Heat, Giannis had his worst scoring game of the season. The odds will definitely be quite short on the Bucks, so picking the Heat could prove to be a real steal on this one.

  1. Rockets vs Lakers, 7th August

The Rockets would be aiming to finish 5th in the Conference, tied as they are with the Thunder on a 40-24 record. Their faceoff with the Lakers would be a pivotal game of basketball in this path.

The Rockets are likely to receive a line of +130 or so for this game. They beat the Lakers in their last faceoff, after the Clint Capela trade. So going for a Rockets W for this game is solidly advisable on betting factors.

  1. Bucks vs Mavericks, 9th August

The Mavericks beat the Bucks in their first meeting of the season in Milwaukee, despite not having MVP candidate Luka Doncic in their ranks. Despite this, the odds line is likely to heavily favor the Bucks, to a tune of at least -450.

Betting on the Mavs, who’re likely to get a payoff of +150 or more, will be a handy pick. Basketball is a make-or-miss game, and the probability of the Mavs making their shots in this game seems pretty high given their size and versatility across the board.

  1. Nets vs Magic, 11th August

These two basketball teams are destined to meet each other twice in the bubble. While their first meeting will likely be quite competitive, by the time they meet the second time, the Magic will probably have secured 7th seed by a significant margin.

This would put the betting line in their favor, and the Magic would have the chance to rest its players before a possible playoff matchup repeat against the Raptors. Betting on the Nets in this game, for a prospective line of +140 or so, would be the way forward.

 

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Popularity of Basketball in UK, is it the next Big Market?

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When talking about the most popular sports in the UK, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear basketball being mentioned. However, the sport has gathered some momentum over the last five years or so and is steadily rising in both participation and spectator numbers.

With this growth in popularity comes the increase in bets placed on the sport. Go to any main bookmaker online and you won’t struggle to find basketball betting among the array of sports to choose from. So, is basketball the next big betting market in the UK? We take a look at how UK basketball has gotten to where it is today and where it could go in the future.

Basketball in the UK has had a rather checkered past. Established in 1987, the British Basketball League (BBL) saw rapid growth in the early 1990s, most likely due to the rising popularity of the NBA in the UK, with Hall of Famer Michael Jordan coming to prominence in the sport and inspiring a generation to get involved in the sport.

For the next decade, basketball in the UK saw healthy progression, with record attendances and commercial sponsorship deals to even rival football, with the likes of Budweiser, Peugeot and Playboy all attaching their brands to the new venture. It looked as though basketball was going to be the most popular pastime besides football betting in the UK – that was until the early 2000s.

The new millennium saw a change in fortunes. ITV Digital, which was set to become the biggest subscription based sports channel in the UK, collapsed. The BBL were due to receive more than £21 million pounds in TV revenue as a result of the deal, but missed out on the essential funding. This led to multiple BBL teams such as Essex Leopards, Birmingham Bullets and the Manchester Giants pulling out of the league, with some franchises folding completely under the financial strain.

It’s taken a long time for basketball in the UK to recover. After sell-out crowds at Wembley Arena in 2012 and 2014; the 2015 BBL play-off finals took place in front of record crowds at the 02 Arena in London. Since then, franchises have continued to develop their facilities and build the necessary foundations for the sport to once again rise to prominence in the UK. The hard work that the BBL and the franchises have put in over the last decade looks to be coming to fruition, as Leicester became the first British basketball participant in Europe for 11 years when they played in the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Europe Cup in the 2018/19 season.

With basketball in the UK now looking back on the rise, it would be no surprise to see an increase in the amount of bets placed on the sport as a direct result. An indicator that online bookmakers are taking the sport seriously can be seen when looking at the amount of markets that are on offer. It’s not just match outright odds, you can now bet on handicap, or ‘spread’ markets, winning margin and total match points to name just a few.

A recent study by the UK Gambling Commission estimated more than £14 billion is spent on gambling in the UK. Maybe it’s time for basketball to get a bigger piece of that pie.

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Liked “The Last Dance”? Try These Documentaries

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Living through the biggest pandemic of the new millennium (so far, of course) is bad enough in itself… having to do so without live sports only makes it worse. The NBA is struggling to find a solution to the problems caused by the ongoing pandemic. The day the players step inside the court again is drawing close but sometimes it feels that it’s still way too far.

Reruns, YouTube videos, and documentaries like The Last Dance that can fill the void left by live sports in our souls. The latter is the perfect solution if you want to remember one of the greatest basketball teams in history, and while some may call it way too long (it has ten episodes filled with flashbacks and interviews, mostly focusing on Michael Jordan), others see it as the perfect way to pass the time until NBA finally resumes. And if it got you in the mood for more basketball documentaries, here are a few more to check out.

One & Done/Ben Simmons (Amazon Prime)

Born in Australia to a player at the Melbourne Tigers in Australia’s National Basketball League, Ben Simmons was destined to follow his father’s footsteps. He was torn, in turn, between basketball and his other passion, Australian rules football (a bit similar to rugby). He went with the first, though, and was pretty successful, too – at the age of 15, he was chosen to represent Australia at the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship. His dream was to play in the NBA, a dream that he achieved by first playing for the Montverde Academy, then with the NCAA Division 1 team LSU Tigers.

His road from his first games in Australia to becoming the number one overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers is depicted in the Showtime documentary “One & Done”, released in 2016.

Iverson (Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, Play Store, Microsoft Store)

Allen Iverson (aka AI or the Answer) played 14 years in the NBA. During his career, he collected 11 NBA All-Star positions, two All-Star MVP awards, and was the NBA’s most valuable player in 2001.

Iverson was born in 1975 to a 15-year-old single mom. In high school, he played football and basketball, earning The Associated Press High School Player of the Year award in both sports. At 17, he was involved in a brawl, arrested, and convicted – he received an unusually harsh sentence. Upon leaving Richard Milburn High School for at-risk students, Georgetown University head coach John Thompson was waiting for him with a full basketball scholarship.

Two seasons into his college basketball career, he was signed – first overall – by the Philadelphia 76ers, starting his successful career in the NBA.

A biopic about his life, directed by Zatella Beatty, was released in 2014.

Basketball: A Love Story (ESPNPlayer)

Award-winning director Dan Klores asked NBA and WNBA players, coaches, commissioners, both active and retired, what made them fall in love with basketball. The result: 62 “short stories” divided into ten two-hour episodes where Klores and the team talk to pretty much every major basketball personality (with the notable exception of Michael Jordan and Gregg Popovich).

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