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NBA Futures Wager

   by ASA - 10/28/2014

The Clips have the fifth-best odds to win the 2014 NBA Championship behind the Cavs, Spurs, Bulls, and Thunder. While there are concerns among the four teams ahead of the Clips -- How will the Cavs mesh in the first year with three superstars? Will Derrick Rose be the player he was three years ago? How will the Thunder respond without Durant in the lineup for an extended period? Will the Spurs finally start to slow down with an aging roster? -- LAC is the only squad without major questions surrounding the team heading into the season. They ended 2013 as the third best team in the West last year, finishing five games behind San Antonio and two games behind OKC. The Clips were one of the favorites to compete for the 2013 NBA Finals once the playoffs began and they were headed in the right direction, up 2-games-to-1 against the Warriors in the 1st Round, when the Donald Sterling controversy came to light. The media storm surrounding Sterling was inescapable for the team, the league, and its fans. The emotional fallout forced the LAC-GS series to go longer than necessary and took its toll on the team. Even then, the Clips survived the Warriors in seven games and were right there with OKC in the 2nd Round. LAC won Game One and with the series tied at 2-2, OKC squeaked out a home win, 105-104, shifting the series momentum in the Thunder's favor. They entered the offseason not knowing who their owner would be or what kind of drastic measures it might take to to get away from Sterling. Ultimately the Clippers truly grew closer over the course of last season and the offseason and chemistry wise, the Clippers have never been better. There weren't a ton of improvements to be made on last year's roster, but the Clips did a nice job of upgrading their bench. They brought in Jordan Farmar to replace Darren Collison as the backup point guard. Farmar is an underrated shooter and can run the offense off the bench. He's a great fit with this roster and is an upgrade over what Collison brought to the table in 2013. LAC also brought back Glen Davis and acquired Spencer Hawes to solidify the frontcourt depth. Hawes can function as a rebounder and can spread the floor as a stretch 4/5, and will be a nice change of pace from DeAndre Jordan. LAC, in the second year under proven head coach Doc Rivers, will be better than last year's version and are a great under-the-radar bet to win the 2014 NBA Finals.

OVER 32.5 Wins - Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have the biggest change in win totals from last season, when they were slated to win 54.5 games, to this season, where they are slated to win just 32.5 and finish nine games below .500. The 22-game difference can be attributed to the fact that Indiana lost its two best offensive players in the offseason when Lance Stephenson left in free agency and when Paul George suffered a broken leg while participating on Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. The offense will struggle without Stephenson or George in the lineup, but the defense will allow them to compete. Frank Vogel's squad has had one of the top defensive systems in the NBA over the last few seasons, a system will be even more defense-oriented in 2014. The Pacers of 2014 will resemble that of the Chicago Bulls sans Derrick Rose in the lineup. The Rose-less Bulls of 2012 & 2013 were slow (4th slowest pace in '12, 2nd slowest in '13), bad offensively (last in PPG in '12 & '13), and great defensively (3rd in PPG allowed in '12, 1st in PPG allowed in '13). Chicago finished with 48 wins in 2013 and 45 in 2012. Expect that Indiana will use a similar formula in 2014 that will allow them to compete for a playoff spot in a subpar Eastern Conference. Don't expect the Pacers to fall too far and take Indiana to win OVER 32.5 games.

UNDER 48.5 Wins - Portland Trailblazers

Last season the young Blazers rode a red hot 22-4 start to the season to a playoff berth and an overall record of 54-28 in the regular season. It was a remarkable turnaround for the Blazers who had won just 61 total games in the previous season. In fact, the 21 more wins they had last season compared to the previous season was the biggest turnaround in the NBA last season. A big reason for Portland's success last season was the fact they had the second fewest lost minutes (injuries) by starters for the year. The Blazers won't be sneaking up on anyone this season and of course they play in the much tougher Western Conference. Interestingly enough, of the Blazers 54 regular season wins last season, 23 came by 7-points or less so obviously when a few of those games don't go their way this season they won't threaten their win total of 48.5 games. Don't get me wrong we love the young Blazers roster with LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard, Wesley Mathews and Robin Lopez but we don't expect a team that was 19th in defensive efficiency allowing 1.043 points per possession last season to finish with 50+ wins.

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