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NBA Road Trips and Home Stands
by Bryan Leonard - 02/26/2008
So whoâ€™s up and whoâ€™s down this week in the NBA? One way to get a sense of who might get hot or go cold is the schedule. The NBA trades last week got all the attention, but handicappers and oddsmakers take careful notice of road trips and situational spots.
One team that might get hot this week is Boston. The Celtics have been working Kevin Garnett back into the lineup after a lengthy lay-off to rest injured ribs. They certainly looked rusty and out of whack during their first three-game skid of the season, going 0-3 SU/ATS against Denver, Golden State and Phoenix. They had no defense in the first two games, losses at Denver and Golden State, and no offense in an 85-77 defeat at Phoenix.
But all those games were on the road. They got well in a hurry in a 112-102 win at Portland and come home this week starting Wednesday for a 5-game home stand, playing creampuffs Charlotte and Atlanta this weekend. â€œOur rule really is to stop a losing streak at two and try not to make this an ongoing thing,â€쳌 said Kevin Garnett. â€œYou could feel it on the bus. Our focus was there.â€쳌 This is a motivated team unlikely to go through the midseason motions some teams slide into.
The sleepwalking Knicks have a tough spot this weekend, playing back to back road games at Atlanta (Friday) and at Orlando (Saturday). They didnâ€™t look so hot the last road game, getting blown out at Toronto, 115-92. After which Eddy Curry flipped out: "Iâ€™m not going to change who I amâ€쳌 when questioned whether his style still "fits in" with the Knicks. Curry also said he disagreed with coach Isiah Thomas' "small man's game" excuse and would like to see Thomas use him more as a tandem with Zach Randolph.
Torontoâ€™s Andrea Bargnani all by himself outscored the Knicks' big-man tandem, hitting for 25 points on five 3-pointers, most of them over an unresponsive Curry. What a mess. And they gave up a first round pick for that chump?
Philadelphia is in a tough situational spot, playing on the road Friday and Saturday, at Golden State and Phoenix. Thatâ€™s two teams that push the ball up the floor, and Philly doesnâ€™t have a deep roster. They could be dead tired in the second half Saturday at Phoenix.
Charlotte is on a road trip all this week, ending Friday in Boston, which will be a tough spot. Teams can pack it in on the final game of a long road trip, and the Bobcats are riding a 1-10 SU, 2-8-1 ATS run.
Is there a worse team than the Memphis Grizzlies? I donâ€™t mean this season. How about in the history of the NBA? This team looks awful after giving away Pau Gasol for (laugh track) Kwame Brown. They just lost three in a row by 20, 15 and 14 points. The Grizzlies played like Cubs throughout a 109-89 loss Sunday at Cleveland. The Griz fell behind by 28 points and never seriously threatened and played without Mike Miller for a third straight game because of back trouble
Cleveland's front line dominated. The Cavs' starting frontcourt -- James, Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas combined for 59 points and 30 rebounds. The Griz haven't countered much down low since Pau Gasol was shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers. Starting Kwame Brown instead of Darko Milicic against the Cavs was a change of pace but not production.
Griz head coach Marc Iavaroni said, "I was proud of the way our guys came out in the second half as poorly as we played in the first half. We won the second half. That was a good effort by us." Iâ€™d rather have a coach who says his team stinks and shows some fire, like Nate McMillan in Portland before they turned things around.