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NBA Personnel Changes and Lineups
by Bryan Leonard - 04/22/2012
Like a stock broker, a good handicapper has to keep up with the changes that take place on and off the court. This is particularly true this time of year. The final month of the NBA season has seen all kinds of strange lineup changes, from injuries (Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant) to coaches purposely sitting players, resting them up for the postseason.
Many coaches are sitting veteran players because it has been an unusual season with the late start, then cramming 66 games into an abbreviated schedule littered with back to back spots as well as three games in three nights, which was unheard of for years.
Gregg Popovich in San Antonio has sat Tim Duncan out many times, especially in the second of back to back spots. Boston coach Doc Rivers has rested Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and even Rajon Rondo often the last month. It’s essential for handicappers to keep up with rosters and players who are sitting or playing.
Also, as we are into the second half of the season, teams that are gearing up to make a postseason run are tinkering with their lineups. And those that are out of the playoff hunt are beginning to make moves that are focused on next season.
Good news for the New York Knicks is that Amare Stoudemire is back. The bad news is they lost to the Cavs, 98-90 on Friday. Stoudemire had missed New York's previous 13 games with a bulging disk. But even with him in the lineup, the Knicks couldn't handle the Cavs, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the fourth time in 19 games. Stoudemire finished with 15 points and Carmelo Anthony had 12 before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Manny Harris had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Cavs, and rookie Kyrie Irving scored 21 in his second game back from a shoulder injury. Cleveland's Anderson Varejao was shut down for the remainder of the season by the Cavs because he's still has soreness around his broken right wrist. Varejao broke his wrist on Feb. 10 against Milwaukee, and while the fracture has healed, the area close to his wrist was causing him discomfort.
Orlando has its own problems with Dwight Howard out for the rest of the year and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy doubted Hedo Turkoglu's ability to return for the playoffs. The Magic is 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games playing on two days rest. In addition, are they less concerned about defense? Orlando is on a 9-4 run over the total.
Chicago has had Derek Rose in and out of the lineup and Miami has done the same with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade down the stretch, making keeping track of injuries and lineups essential. By the way, the under is 20-6 in the Heat’s last 26 home games and 21-5 under the total in the Heat’s last 26 games playing on one day’s rest. The point is, a good handicapper needs to keep up on ALL moves and carefully assess the results on the court and against the spread.