College Hoops Takes Center Stage


With the Super Bowl in the rear view mirror, the next big event on the sports stage is college basketball’s season-ending tournaments. Since 1997, college basketball’s national champion has come from several different conferences: the Pac 10 (Arizona), SEC (Kentucky and Florida), Big 10 (Michigan State), the ACC (Duke, Maryland, North Carolina), Nig 12 (Kansas) and the old Big East (UConn, Syracuse, Louisville). Over the next few weeks, let’s examine some of the top hoop teams in each conference, starting this week with the ACC. Duke: A down year for Duke? For losses already for Coach Mike Krzyzewski, a pair against the Top 10 but also a pair of defeats (Notre Dame, Clemson) outside the Top 25. It’s a young team with 6-8 freshman Jabari Parker (19 ppg, 7.7 rpg) team with sophomores Amile Jefferson and Rodney Hood. They like the uptempo style, tops in the conference in scoring averaging 87 ppg in ACC play.

One problem is defense, ranked second to last in the ACC in field goal shooting defense, giving up 45% shooting. It’s not a big team in the low post and they can be pushed around by power frontcourts. In the last to Clemson, Duke was outrebounded 48-30. The Blue Devils are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 home games, 10-4 over on Saturdays. Duke has at least 4 losses in its first 16 games for the first time since the 1996-97 season. Syracuse: Coach Jim Boheim has a powerhouse team that has met every challenge, including wins over No. 8 Villanova (78-62), No. 18 Baylor (74-67) and No. 22 Pitt (59-54). Freshman guard Tyler Ennis (12 ppg, 5.5 apg) leads a unit that is tops in the conference in steals, while 6-8 senior C.J. Fair (16.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and 6-8 sophomore Jerami Grant (12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) provide frontcourt muscle. They turn up the defense on the road, 4-1-1 under the total away. Syracuse is in the middle of a stretch playing 5 of 6 at home.

The Orange is 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning record. Pitt: The Panthers have been impressive, with a pair of losses to Cincinnati and Syracuse by a total of 5 points. Their calling card is defense, third in the ACC in points allowed with 6-9 senior Talib Zanna (13 ppg, 8 rpg) and 6-8 Mike Young in the paint. In the backcourt, 6-5 senior Lamar Patterson (17 ppg) and sophomore James Robinson are highly efficient, as the team doesn’t score a ton of points but ranks 7th in the nation in assists. Despite all that defense this team is 60-29-1 over the total on Saturdays. They only play one top 20 team before the ACC tourney, hosting Syracuse next week. Virginia: The Cavaliers are getting it done with a terrific one-two punch of 6-5 sophomore Malcolm Brogdon (11 ppg, 5 rpg) and 6-6 senior Joe Harris (12.3 ppg). Virginia plays great defense, second in the ACC in points allowed, as well as third in field goal shooting defense (36% allowed). Virginia hasn’t done well when stepping up, losing to Wisconsin (48-38), VCU (59-56) and Duke (69-65), slowing the pace down. The Cavaliers are 22-8 ATS in their last 30 Saturday games. One flaw that could be fatal in March is free throw shooting, one of the worst in the ACC at 62.5%.

Clemson: The Tigers are one of the poorest offenses in the country (64 ppg), but stay alive by strangling opponents with defense, tops in the ACC in points allowed (53.6 ppg), field goal defense (32% allowed) and three-point defense (22%). 6-6 junior K.J., McDaniels (16 ppg, 7 rpg) is a workhorse in the paint along with 6-10 sophomore Landry Nnoko. It’s no surprise they started the season 8-5 under the total. But do they have the offense to come back against good teams when needed? Clemson got thumped by Florida State (56-41) and Pitt (76-43) shooting 30% and 32%. Against Pitt Daniels got into early foul trouble and this team doesn’t have other offensive options. Clemons is in the middle of a stretch now playing 5 of 6 on the road. Florida State: The Seminoles are a tough team to play because they attack opponents in a variety of ways.

Florida State is a dynamite defensive team allowing 36% shooting in ACC play (third), solid from the line and tough on the road. They lost at No. 15 Florida by one point and a two-point loss to Michigan in overtime. The Seminoles have a lot of depth and balance with 6-9 senior Okaro White (12 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and 6-7 Montay Brandon up front, plus senior Ian Miller and 6-5 sophomore Aaron Thomas in the backcourt, both averaging 13 ppg. The under is 14-5 versus a team with a winning record.  Written by Jim Feist for

Best Sporting Events Of The Week

Kevin Durant

A little game called the Super Bowl will dominate the week’s action in your sportsbook. But don’t forget about the NBA and college hoops, as well as the NHL and UFC.



Super Bowl XLVIII will go down at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday as the big game is held in a cold-weather venue for the first time. Denver and Seattle both have experience playing in cold weather, so it isn’t supposed to play that big of a factor, but it is definitely something you should keep an eye out for.


Kevin Durant hasn’t stopped his relentless tear, even with an ailing shoulder, and he will lead Oklahoma City into Miami on Wednesday for a meeting with the two-time defending champs. The next night in the TNT nightcap, the Los Angeles Clippers take on Golden State.

NCAA Basketball

There will be a few college basketball matchups worth watching this week, but the marquee game will be on Saturday, as Syracuse hosts Duke for the first time since coming to the ACC. The Orangemen go into the week undefeated.


It is always fun when rivals go at it, and you will get your fill in the NHL this week, starting on Wednesday when Chicago visits Vancouver. On Thursday, Montreal and Boston clash in an Original Six rivalry where the temperature is always high.


The UFC always has a card on Super Bowl weekend, and Saturday’s UFC 169 features a pair of championship tilts for fight fans. Renan Barao will aim to defend his 135-pound title when he meets Urijah Faber for the second time; Barao beat Faber for the interim bantamweight belt at UFC 149. In the featherweight division, Jose Aldo aims to continue his reign when he takes on Ricardo Lamas.

Exposing the Top 25: Where the polls went wrong


Each week throughout the college basketball season,  Jesse Schule
will dissect the new Top 25 rankings, looking for betting value. He’ll showcase
the most overrated team, along with the most underrated ranked team, and an
unranked squad that he feels should be in the Top 25.

Most underrated Top
25 team: Wichita State Shockers (19-0 SU, 12-3-1 ATS)

It’s tough to make
an argument that the Shockers aren’t underrated. After all, they have the best
record in the country at 19-0 and yet they’re ranked behind both Villanova and
Michigan State, despite the fact that both those teams have suffered at least
one loss this season. There is also the fact that the Shockers are covering the
spread in 80 percent of their games so far, a truly amazing statistic
considering we are more than halfway through the season.

Critics will say
that the Shockers’ schedule doesn’t see them play a single ranked opponent all
season. That doesn’t mean they haven’t played any quality teams. They have
registered impressive double-digit victories over BYU and DePaul, and they beat
Saint Louis and Alabama on the road. We saw what this team was capable in last
year’s tournament and there is every reason to expect them to be a contender
once again this March.

Most overrated Top 25 team: Villanova Wildcats
(16-2 SU, 12-4 ATS)

The Wildcats climbed all the way to fourth in the
national polls this week. But on the very same day the new rankings came out,
they were blown out on their own court by the Creighton Bluejays. They didn’t
just lose that game – they lost by a staggering 18-point margin at

The Wildcats play three straight road games over the next 10 days,
then return home to host a dangerous Xavier team. It seems inevitable that
Villanova will slide downward in the rankings as the season

Unranked team that should be ranked: Creighton Bluejays (15-3
SU, 12-5 ATS)

The AP dropped the Bluejays from the rankings this week,
after their 10-game winning streak came to an end on the road against
Providence. Creighton, though, is almost guaranteed to shoot back up into the
rankings after its upset win at Villanova.

Doug McDermott and the boys
shot 60 percent from 3-point range in the win over the Wildcats, hitting 21
3-pointers. Any team that is capable of doing that on the road versus one of the
nation’s Top 5 teams is going to strike fear into any opponent.

By Jesse Schule of VegasTopDogs.

Add Some Variety To Your NFL Football Betting Picks


Football usually takes center stage here, and it still does even though the college season is over and there are just four teams left in the NFL. But there is more to look for in your online sportsbook. Here are a couple of football matchups, and three more options you should check out.

New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos – Sunday, 3:00 PM ET

The Pats came back to stun the Broncos after spotting them 24 points in the regular season, but now the Broncos will be at home, where they have lost once this year. Can Peyton Manning improve on a dismal head-to-head record against Tom Brady with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line? This AFC title game figures to be something else.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – Sunday, 6:30 PM ET

The NFC could be just as good as these two West teams split a pair of meetings in the regular season with the home team winning each time. They also don’t like each other very much; the animosity is very real between the 49ers and the Seahawks, from the head coaches (remember, Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll went at it in college before moving on to the NFL).

Golden State Warriors @ Oklahoma City Thunder – Friday, 9:30 PM ET

Not only are these two contenders in the tough Western Conference in the NBA, they are also two of the most exciting teams to watch in the entire league. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are superstars in this league and can score from basically anywhere past the halfcourt line, and both teams rank in the top 10 in terms of points scored, so this should be fun to watch.

Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs – Saturday, 7:00 PM ET

It is always an occasion when these two Original Six rivals meet, and the Maple Leafs are falling back of the pack as they are eight points behind the Habs at the beginning of the week. Montreal is powered from the back by a pair of newly-minted Canadian Olympians in reigning Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban and Carey Price, with the latter being slated to be the #1 goalie in Sochi. This isn’t a must-win for Toronto, but they can’t afford to fall much further in the East.

Lucien Bute vs. Jean Pascal – Saturday, 10:00 PM ET

The Canadiens won’t be playing at the Bell Centre on Saturday, which frees up the arena for a boxing match of epic proportions, and likely the biggest in Canadian history. Bute and Pascal are native sons of Montreal and will go toe-to-toe for the WBC Diamond belt in this light heavyweight bout, and even though Bute made his name at 168 pounds, he has proven to be adept at 175 as well. Can he bring his knockout power up to 175 pounds to take down Pascal, the former WBC titleholder at light heavyweight? This could be an incredible match on Saturday night on HBO.

Written by for

What Sports to Watch and Bet On This Week


There is NBA and NCAA basketball on the agenda this week, as well as the NHL. But we will start with the NFL playoffs, where the spotlight will be under center as it usually is.

Quarterback Play Will Be Huge In The NFL Playoffs

Russell Wilson leads Seattle as 9-point home favorites against Drew Brees and New Orleans on Saturday, while the nightcap has Tom Brady and New England as 7.5-point favorites at home against Andrew Luck and Indianapolis. On Sunday, Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco are 2-point road favorites against Cam Newton and Carolina, while the schedule wraps up with Peyton Manning and Denver as 10-point favorites at home against Philip Rivers and San Diego, who won in Denver in Week 15.

The Heat Take Over New York

The two-time defending champions from Miami have a trip to New York lined up, and they should be favorites on the road on Thursday, when they face the Knicks and Friday, when they take on the Nets in Brooklyn. No teams in the NBA have been as disappointing (and that is being generous) as the New York clubs, although the Nets had won three in a row as of Tuesday.

Can Carolina Pull Off Another Upset?

You have no idea what you’ll get with North Carolina so far in this NCAA hoops season as they have knocked off the likes of Louisville, Kentucky and Michigan State, but then they will lose to Wake Forest. The Tar Heels could be underdogs on the road at Syracuse on Saturday in their first meeting with the #2 Orangemen as ACC foes.

American Teams Anchor Loaded NHL Saturday Night

Saturday night is the big night in the NHL week, and this Saturday, the American teams take the spotlight in a pair of late-night matchups. Boston is in San Jose in one showdown, while Detroit faces off with Los Angeles. Look for the home teams to be favored here.

Written for

What kind of message is Carmelo Anthony sending to the Knicks with his free agency talk?


Carmelo Anthonys career has been good overall. When he was drafted by the Nuggets in 2003 , I think that most everyone felt that the 6-8 forward was going to be a prominent player who was going to be a scoring machine and a possible champion someday. Melo has never been a poor scorer, by any means. Putting up career numbers of 25/ game. And has been a solid rebounder as well with 6.5/clip. And his clutch genes have always been there, with his excellent play with time running out at the end of games.

Personally I like Anthony, his scoring ability is almost unmatched, he can get a shot off anywhere on the court, he can hit it deep, take it to the hole, post up, and has a nice mid range shot. But he is also a guy who needs the ball, the game slows down, he gets the rock and it sits in his hands for 15 seconds, while he decides what he is going to do. It becomes isolation ball the minute he gets it in his hands.

When he went to New York, there was the Knicks exaggeration with him and Amare. Could they coexist on the court together, I think we all saw what happened when they played together, they were much less impressive. Carmelo, for some reason, can’t get other guys over the hump to the next level with his game style.

Last year, the Knicks were on the doorstep, of becoming the next big thing in the NBA. Most felt this way after they lost in the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. the Indiana Pacers in 6, where Melo scored great, but shot miserably. So this season coming in, certainly looked as if only promise and getting better should follow, signing yet another shooter, Andrea Bargnani. to help out in the lineup.

Then early on, as in, as the season was starting, Carmelo brings up talk about trying out free agency next season. Free agency? What? Are you serious? And now he’s saying the Knicks are the laughing stock of the NBA. Are they a failure of a team so far, yes, but keep your mouth shut, talk to your team behind closed doors.

At some point, there has to be some kind of loyalty. Or are those days long gone, with the high short shorts in the NBA? After saying while he was in Denver, how much he wanted to play in hometown New York? Says to me that he is simply giving up on the team.

Of course, on the sniffing radar are the LA Lakers, who seem to always be prepared to snag someone to help Kobe get his magical and mystical 6th ring. But I hate to break the news, him and Kobe would never make it together on the court. Both are too selfish of players. Both needs to be “the man” and I don’t see either one willing to bend and play 2nd fiddle to the other. Were talking about guys who take about 40+ shots a game between the 2 of them, it would be them chucking up shots back and forth, feeling no one could stop them, yet that would likely not be the case. When other players check out mentally, when it becomes a 1-2 man show on offense. They are both primary scorers, who need the ball in their hands, neither can facilitate an offense happily, and Kobe wants the ball for every shot.

Carmelo needs to stop the talk, stop the nonsense and get his head in the game and his team at this time. That should be his only concern right now, is trying to turn around his lousy team and make them into something better. Unfortunately, Carmelo seems to be riding down the path of being one of those excellent scorers who just cant seem to make his teammates better.

Do the Knicks look like a serious playoff team now? Not even close. Do they look like they can become a legitimate playoff team, absolutely, they have scoring shot blocker, Andrea Bargnani and underestimated PG, Raymond Felton, both of whom are supportable and adequate players who can get them through some games as well. Carmelo needs to take care of his team and his business now. Melo, of course, has been the biggest gleaming spot on many bad nights this season keeping the Knicks in games.

But it still just seems to be Carmelo worrying about Carmelo.

Written by TonyK of

The VegasTopDogs Year in Review


     The end of the sports year is coming to a close. and with it, come the memories that will stay with us, for the seasons end. The passion, the controversy, and the satisfaction, and even the embarrassment of many moments of the sports seasons will sit buried in the archives of our emotions for all time. let’s take a look at some of the biggest sports stories and moments of 2013.

The Boston Red Sox shocked the world this season in baseball, by their remarkable worst-to-first reversal by winning the World Series in 6 games over the St. Louis Cardinals. where they outscored the powerful Cards 2-1 And Big Popi batted .688 knocking in 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, and scored 7 times, easily winning the MVP.


Andy Murray finally ended the drought for the Brits. Becoming the 1st British man to win the Wimbledon championship in 77 years. Defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets, in a match that lasted over 3 hours.

LeBron James dodged his haters again, leading the Miami Heat as NBA Finals champions, repeating champs, by surviving the pesky and stubborn Spurs, who were up in the series 3-2, but the Heat got themselves righted, and won it in 7 breathtaking games.

Louisville won the national title. Louisville continued to find ways to score points and ways to make the stops when needed, in a fantastic title game for the ages, when they defeated Michigan 82-76. The Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII over the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. With Ray Lewis’ last journey being the big momentum pusher for the Ravens, Joe Flacco played his heart out earning him a monster contract. It had just about everything fans could want in a Super Bowl. The Alabama Crimson Tide, continued to roll. Taking home its 3rd national championship in 4 years, pounding the surprise Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 42-14.


The Yankees hitter, Alex Rodriguez, was given a extraordinary 211-game ban in MLB’s Biogenesis investigation. OL Jonathan Martin left the Dolphins with his accusations of bullying at the hands of fellow OL, Richie Incognito. Martin stated he was the point of verbal attacks, of racial slurs and belligerent threats. We finally got Lance Armstrong admitting to doping. After years upon years of speculation, the Tour de France machine, confessed he used PEDs. What made this even weirder, was his adamant denial for so long, then to finally arrogantly just say “yep, I did.”


The awful Aaron Hernandez murder case. never a highlight, more of a lowlight, but a huge sports story this year. When NE Patriots star TE Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with the homicide of Odin Lloyd. And the gang connection possibilities. It all came as a huge shock.

We came into a great direction, finally, when the BCS would in the end be replaced by a 4-team playoff. Thankfully, no more computer based champions. Peyton Manning had a ridiculous start to the NFL season. Wasting zero time getting his Broncos ready and firing in the 2013 NFL season, throwing for 7 touchdowns in the very 1st game of the year. Surpassing the old 50 TD record by Tom Brady, Manning adds yet another record, to his 5 inch thick record book already. We got acquainted with the fast paced offensive style of Chip Kelly into the NFL. When he accepted the head coaching job for Philadelphia Eagles. Many were on the fence if his style would be effective in the NFL. It has shown it was more than effective with the surprising emergence of star QB, Nick Foles, leading the team.

Super freshman, Jameis Winston owns the NCAA football world. The Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston stood as the biggest and baddest QB in the nation. After allegations of inappropriate relations with a female, he went on to win the Heisman Trophy. Winston won the trophy easily, finishing with the 7th-largest margin of victory in Heisman voting history.

And let’s not forget the amazing game we will all certainly remember, when Auburn DB Chris Davis returned a missed field-goal attempt 100+ yards to score the game-winning touchdown as time expired vs. #1 Alabama. Auburn won 34-28, putting them into the title game. It was more than a busy year in sports, it was entertaining, and drama filled, as always.

And as always, wishing you all a SAFE & HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014.

Nets window to win NBA title is a “this season only” situation


When Brooklyn pulled off their sizable moves, I felt it was a great move by the Nets GM. It showed a ravenous want to win, and win now, as in immediate. This was a hired gun situation, to make Brooklyn pertinent, at least presently. It was never looked at as a long term solution, but let’s win now, bring some excitement to a deadened city, and shake things up. It’s fun to have New York relevant again, because we all know the Knicks aren’t doing their part either. Another disappointment, this could have been such a fun intense feud for the year. Not looking quite the same as of right now.

Brooklyn has been atrocious this season, scoring 96/ game, and giving up 102. They aren’t even close to being in the playoff hunt, whats the deal in New York? They have an upper limit of 2 seasons from the guys they snatched, with any hopes of making any push at all, and overall, they still cannot match up with the Heat or the Pacers. Talent-wise, speed, or coaching wise. Jason Kidd was a great player, and should be 1st ballot HOF’er, but his coaching skills so far have to be examined. They can’t win on the road, and they can’t win at home, which are bad, I understand possibly struggling on the road, it can be weary, but at home, with your crowd? You have to bring it even more, and they haven’t, having lost games by 12 and 10 already in their home arena.


When the Brooklyn Nets, made their off-season moves, on paper, it got people excited, it got me excited, and I bought into the hype, hook, line and sinker. Especially sinker. Then came the grotesque realization that the guys they signed are 37,two 36 year olds, and haven’t been great players in the last several seasons.

The thinking of them pulling out some “old school magic” is always fun and we as fans love it and eat it up like stuffing on Thanksgiving. But the understanding is that the older players get, the less their game becomes effective on the court, lets be painfully honest.

KG is no where in any sense of the word, the same player he was, even in 2008, putting up 20 and 9 nightly. Paul Pierce isn’t a 20 point scorer anymore, hes “hot” if he scores 12 on a consistent basis now. And Jason Terry, has forever been the spot up guy to stick a jumper from deep for that spark player, at 36, hes not quite a “spark” in any sense of the word, shooting a dismal 38% so far.

The one thing the Nets have going for them, is the lack of good teams in the Eastern conference. Sad, but true, with only 2 teams, the Heat and the Pacers really showing any promise on the early season. The way it looks now, there could potentially be 2-3 teams that make the playoffs under .500, which is beyond pitiable.

With the age factoring in strongly recently in particular, the Nets are not looking like a playoff team in any sense of the word. Which obviously undoes them as a championship competitor.

Written by Mike Anthony of

Tracy McGrady and the Spurs

How much will Tracy McGrady impact the Spurs for the playoffs, if at all? The Spurs picked up the 33 year old Tracy McGrady bringing him to a team that has been punctured with injuries. He will give them depth and experience on the team.

Make no mistake about it; McGrady has had a very good career, with averages of 20 pts, 6 boards and 4 assists in 15 seasons. And he yet individually plays better in the playoffs, at 25 pts, 6 boards, and 6 assists, but his playoff record has never been good, his teams have never done much.

He has gone through a surplus of teams in his career, bouncing around and playing for the Raptors, Magic, Rockets, Knicks, Pistons, and Hawks. Obviously he was mainly successful when he played for Orlando, where he averaged 28 in his career there. Coming off his worst season for Atlanta in 2012, scoring 5/game, he fell off into the Chinese basketball league, where he was averaging 25 pts and 7 rbs. The guys he was playing in China certainly cannot compare to the athletic capacity the NBA owns in its amazing cache.

They obviously picked up T-Mac to help them in their injured areas they are dealing with. How much is he really going to help the Spurs? How much more is left in the tank on this guy? Teams keep trying to pick him up economically and roll the dice, hoping they can get a touch of what he used to be, back 5-6 years ago. But we are still talking about a guy who has averaged only 7 ppg over the last 3 seasons in the NBA. Do they feel he has a game or 2 where he can drop 25 off the bench?

He has had some really first-class playoff games in his career, with 42 pts, 8 rbs, and 10 asts vs the Bucks in 2001, and 37, 8, and 7 vs Dallas in 2005. But that was a long time ago. How far behind are those days of T-Mac? At 33, he is certainly on the back 9 of his career, along with all the injuries that beat him. And he has always been considered a fragile player, always will be under the “what if umbrella.”

As a back up, he is still a guy who could get another 2-3 years, and get a team 8-10 a night. Look at Ray Allen at 37 and what he is doing. Let alone, Paul Pierce at 35, still putting up 19 & 6 for the Celts. When Tracy was playing for the Hawks, he was only playing 16 minutes/game. How much time do the Spurs plan on playing him, I would expect around 15-20 minutes. As long as his soft shot hasn’t left him, he can make a team pay if they leave him open, or him splicing off screens.

The Spurs are losing momentum rapidly, and are spiraling. Tony Parker being not 100% is an enormous blister against them; I just don’t see the Spurs seeing a long run in the playoffs. Any team that plays them now, I think feel they have an advantage over them, no matter how team oriented the Spurs are.

The Spurs who rank 5th shooting the deep ball, they can put McGrady as a spot up deep ball shooter, McGrady, for his career is a sturdy shooter from long range. He could fit in well, in their scheme.

I do think this is going to be a rough ride for the Spurs though. I think the Spurs did the best thing they could do with what they were forced to deal with. With a potential 1st round out, it wouldn’t shock me by any means. They don’t match up well vs some of these younger, faster teams.

It’s easy to forget how good T-Mac was, 10 years ago, when you see him now, only a ghost of his former self, when he was a real big time baller, scoring 28/game. I hope McGrady does well, but I think that the belief may have assembly.

Written by Mike Anthony of

The NBA Playoffs

The NBA playoffs are in full
swing, which means overall the better teams are battling each other. This is
different from the regular season when many nights great teams are playing bad
teams and bad teams are playing worse one. Astute sports bettors should pay very
careful attention to blowouts.

For instance, after losing Game 1 at the
Lakers a year ago, 103-88, the Nuggets covered in a close one in Game 2,
104-100, by changing strategy and going uptempo in the second half. They got
beat on the glass in the first game, but showcased more low post hustle in Game
2 where they outrebounded the taller Lakers.

That’s nothing new. Two
years ago the Lakers blew out the Hornets in Game 3, 100-86, then the a
different New Orleans club showed up the next game, winning straight up as a +5
dog. Three years ago after losing Game 1, the Celtics stunned the Cavaliers in
Game 2, 104-86, at Cleveland as an underdog. At one point they led 91-66. A big
part of the story was Rasheed Wallace, who had been called out by Coach Doc
Rivers after a lousy opener, but added 17 points off the bench.

Incensed, the Cavaliers had a few days to stew about the embarrassing
home defeat, then went to Boston for Game 3 and blew out the Celtics, 124-95. It
was Boston’s worst home playoff defeat in history and the Cavs shot 59%. The
fans booed when Boston left the court at halftime down 65-43. Series over? No.
Boston then won the next three games, including a blowout of their own, 120-88
with Cleveland fans booing their team!

Overall, blowouts are less
expected this time of the year. Oddsmakers are anticipating that the majority of
teams want to be here and will play all out for 48 minutes keeping things
relatively close.

This year’s Hawks/Pacers series is a good example.
Indiana destroyed Atlanta in the first two games, 107-90 and 113-98, only to get
blown out in Game 3, a 90-69 Hawks rout. What happened in Game 2 meant nothing
in predicting Game 3. It wasn’t just home court that turned the trick but some
subtle changes. The Hawks changed up their lineup — inserting 7-footer Johan
Petro at center and bringing 3-point specialist Kyle Korver off the bench —
after getting manhandled on the road. With more favorable matchups and a lot
more energy, Atlanta looked like a different team.

Playoff teams have
some talent or star players, which also makes closer, more competitive games
likely, especially as the playoffs move along. Still, one-sided games can happen
for a variety of reasons. Seven years ago the Spurs positively trashed the Kings
in Game 1, 122-88. The stats on the game were frightening, with San Antonio
shooting 57% and holding the Kings to 39%, while winning the battle of the
boards 51-32.

However, a funny thing happened in Game 2: the Kings
showed up. They showed up with a vengeance, too, taking the Spurs to overtime
before a wild 128-119 loss, though the angry dog still covered. Public
perception can be such that many were thinking the Spurs were going to destroy
the Kings even worse in Game 2. However, the veteran Kings were embarrassed and
angry. A very different team showed up for Game 2, one that was motivated by the

The point is, don’t easily dismiss teams that get routed. If
they have talent, are well coached, or have strong leadership, they can bounce
back and look like a very different team the next game. Another factor to
consider is defense. Many teams that make the postseason know how to play
defense and in a blowout loss, perhaps a team simply had a bad defensive game.
Or, the opponent was doing something that they couldn’t adjust to. Though after
watching game films, adjustments are made, which is why they can look very

Adjustments and motivation can spur a team in a bounce-back
role, as well as the fact that they simply had a bad game. Even handicappers
have to learn not to overanalyze certain situations. The important point is not
too read too much into a single, one-sided game. The playoffs only increase
competitive fire and passion with teams facing each other over and over again,
making adjustments and revenge spots even more acute. You may recall the NBA
Finals seven years ago, when two blowouts were followed by close nail-biters,
with the dog covering. Dallas won Game 2, 99-85, but the next game Miami won by
a basket. In Game 4, the Heat rolled by 24 points, only to see Game 5 go into
overtime and decided by one point.

One season the Celtics danced all
over the Pacers in a 102-82 Game 1 rout. Boston players made foolish comments
after the game about how they were already thinking about advancing to the next
round! In Game 2, a very different Indiana team showed up in an 82-79 win as a
road underdog. They eventually won the series, too. Every dog can have his day
in the NBA playoffs, so be careful: one-sided blowouts can be very different the
next encounter.

Written by Jim Feist of