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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

NBA Things We Have Learned March 1st-15th

I am using this post to just recap on a few things we could have taken from recent NBA games and how we can use them to our advantage as we go forward. I will also update my profit/loss for the month each time I recap.

1- The LA Lakers are still the team to beat
The LA Lakers were being criticised from all angles as we entered the All-Star break last month, but surely everyone should have realised that this team is all about rings and gearing up for the Play Offs.

The Lakers had struggled against the elite teams in the NBA before the break, but have returned with a vengeance, winning 10 of 11 games overall. A closer look at the results show they are 7-1 in that time against teams that will be in the Play Offs come April, and they have beaten their big Western rivals, Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio on the road in that stretch.

LA might not end with the Number 1 seed in the Western Conference, but someone is going to have to play exceptionally well to knock this team off from three-peating this season.

2- The Miami Heat can beat the best
We had all seen the record- Miami were 1-9 against the elite teams in the NBA and were 1-15 in games decided by 3 points or less so there was no way the Heat could be considered a serious threat come Play Off time. 5 defeats in a row seemed to back that up, more so when considering all those losses came to Play Off bound teams.

However, things are looking brighter on South Beach after the team knocked off the LA Lakers and San Antonio Spurs in recent games and now people are slowly falling back in line.

The Heat have lost a lot of close games this season, but this looks like an anomoly rather than Miami struggling. Granted there have been some stunning losses, like the 24 point lead they blew while losing to Orlando, but the Big Three look like they have found a niche for their individual roles and the returning Udonis Haslem will provide a further boost to the team.

Miami are definitely a dangerous team, and now they have the belief and proof they can beat the best.

3- New York are at least 1 year away from being a real threat in the East
The Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony and all New York fans were rejoicing that the team was back in contention in the suddenly loaded East. Dont get me wrong, I marked out too!!

However, a lot of the pieces that had given the Knicks such a solid foundation this season were moved on in the trade and there is a real lack of depth in the rotation.

The deal was a good one for New York and should work out well for the future of this franchise but this season looks too soon for an inconsistent team.

The Knicks might push one of the top teams to 6 games at best in the Play Offs, but I fear a 1st Round loss this season, although that is a total improvement on the last 5 seasons put together.

4- Oklahoma City can whip the worst, but what about the best?
Oklahoma City made one of the best trades when bringing in Kendrick Perkins from the Boston Celtics to improve their Defense. The loss of Jeff Green has been unnoticed so far thanks to the supreme play of James Harden while we all know what Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook bring to the party.

This makes the Thunder a real threat in the West this season, one year after pushing the Lakers to 6 games in the 2nd Round, but they have to prove they can compete with the better teams in the NBA.

Oklahoma City have been thumping the sub .500 teams all season, and they continued that trend with double digit wins at Detroit, Cleveland and Washington recently, but they have lost their last 5 games played against Miami, Orlando, San Antonio and the LA Lakers and they need to prove they can compete with those teams on a regular basis.

5- Are the Boston Celtics showing their age?
While Oklahoma City have to be praised for trading for Perkins, Boston left many scratching their heads as they gave away the one piece that gave them a real edge over Miami in the East.

The Celtics have been struggling of late, but I would not be too concerned as the veterans certainly showed last season that they can show up for the Play Offs.

What would be a concern is they have fallen out of the Number 1 seed in the East, and that means no home court advantage throughout the Play Offs- this is a big deal for a team that truly felt they would have won the Championship last season if Game 7 was played in Boston rather than Los Angeles.

They do need to start winning, but I might steer clear of picking the Celtics in the next couple of weeks until I have more of a feel for them.

6- The LA Clippers are much better than their record suggests
The final thing that looks clear to me is the how dangerous the LA Clippers are at the moment. They are a much better team than their record suggests and look set to play spoiler in the Western Conference if wins over Houston and Denver in the last couple of weeks is anything to go by.

When you have players like Mo Williams, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin, you are certain to cause teams problems, and I will be keeping an eye out on this progressing team.

Profit for March = + 5.83 Units

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