Archive for January, 2009

Three Free Superbowl Prop Bets

January 31st, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on Three Free Superbowl Prop Bets

Everyone knows Superbowl Sunday is the single biggest betting event every year. The sportsbooks around the nation offer unlimited amounts of unusual and exciting bets for the Superbowl considering the extremely large amount of bettors eagerly anticipating a final chance to win some money to close out the football season. This year you can bet on anything from how long it will take Jennifer Hudson to sing the national anthem to who will win the coin toss. If you looking for some ways to win some money on some other aspects of the game consider a few of these prop betting picks we have established.

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Team to receive the opening kickoff?

Steelers +145
Cardinals -175

This bet is as simple as it gets. Arizona always wants the ball when they win the coin flip so they can put their high power offense on the field. The Arizona offense leads the team and definitely not the defense which gave up nearly 27 points on the board every game this season. The Cardinals offense will be eager to get on the field if they win the toss and possibly make some big plays early and not allow the Pittsburgh defense to dominate like they have all season. Pittsburgh on the other hand is definitely going to put their defense on the field if they win the toss. The Steelers have the best defense in the NFL and they will definitely want to shut down the Arizona offense right off the bat to make a statement. The Steelers defense ranks first in 3 of 4 major defensive categories and 2nd in the other major category which is rushing defense. The Steelers will definitely be trying to prove early that they can shutdown the Cardinals offense and control the pace of the game. Throw some extra money on this prop if you have the chance. The odds may not be favorable to making a big win, but this is a certain winner.

Pick: Arizona -175

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Will there be a score in the first 7:30 of the first quarter?

Yes -170
No +140

I know a lot of people are jumping on the over total for the game due to the fact both offenses have performed really well through the playoffs and many are anticipating for their to be a good bit of points scored. However while that may or may not happen, teams less likely come out of the gates with a bang on offense in the Superbowl. A lot of times the defenses control the first minutes of the games and the play calling is a bit conservative until the tempo picks up. Going back to the first prop bet, I believe Arizona gets the ball and will attempt to move it up the field through the air. I like to think Pittsburgh defense will at least win the first battle against the Arizona offense on the field. Predicting that the Pittsburgh offense will then take over and then move the ball rather slowly as they usually do with a good bit of running plays with a pass thrown in here and there. The first few minutes usually fly by and believe it will again. Place a wager that there will not be any points scored in the opening minutes on this game and get some good odds as well.

Pick: No +140

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First team to be penalized for pass interference?

Steelers -140
Cardinals +110

This is a bet like other prop bets that are simply by the trend of the game. Arizona will be throwing the ball all over the field while Pittsburgh will throw the ball more sparingly. Expecting that the Steelers get many more chances to make a pass interference and the difficulty they may have covering the Arizona receivers I would place my money on Pittsburgh. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin have been unstoppable all year long with over 25 combined touchdowns grabs. Fitzgerald caught 3 touchdown passes in the first half of the NFL Championship and has also broken a postseason record with 419 receiving yards. It is safe to say that the Pittsburgh defense will have a tough task in trying to control these playmakers that lead one of the best air attacks in the NFL. Not to mention how the NFL has gotten fairly absurd with their pass interference calls over the last few years. It seems like the defender is to a big disadvantage with the rules and the first touch they make on a receiver the yellow flag flies. Again the odds may not be what you would like on a winning bet, but follow the likelihood of what will happen and place this wager with Pittsburgh.

Pick: Pittsburgh -140

Hall of Fame Audition

January 30th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NFL Football   2 Comments »

Kurt WarnerThe 2009 Super Bowl is a mere two days away as the world awaits one of the biggest sporting spectacles on the planet. The Super Bowl has always been the most popular and widely watched game in sports. This year’s battle promises to draw some more dramatic excitement as the Arizona Cardinals are in search for their first ever Super Bowl victory while the Pittsburgh Steelers will be trying to break an NFL record with their 6th Super Bowl win. Not only does this game cap off a great season for the winner, but it will also define the eternal career of quarterback Kurt Warner. One of the growing debates leading into this year’s spectacle has been the possibility and chances that veteran QB Kurt Warner will make the Hall of Fame. Warner has definitely received a bigger fan base through his performance during the playoffs this year where he has epitomized what it takes to be a leader of an NFL football team. Clearly this debate does not have an answer with many people believing Warner will make it into the Hall of Fame and many believing he will be left out. One thing that is for sure is this year’s Super Bowl may be the final audition that concretes the Warner legacy forever.

One of the pessimistic clouds that have overshadowed Warner’s career is that many believe he has not been as consistent enough as a top quarterback to receive the ultimate nomination into Canton, Ohio. Warner became an Arena Football League quarterback in 1995 after not being able to get a spot with an NFL team. Warner did not even enter the NFL until 3 years later at the age of 28. However, one year later Kurt Warner would take the role behind center for the St. Louis Rams and complete one of the biggest breakout stories in NFL history. The 1999 season really put the star quarterback on the map as he completed 65% of his passes on the season, for 4,353 yards, and an amazing 41 touchdowns. The 41 touchdowns became a Rams all-time record while placing 5th on the single season all-time list. Warner received his first MVP and led the St. Louis Rams to their first ever Super Bowl victory and also won the Super Bowl MVP becoming the 6th person ever to win both MVP titles in the same year. Over the next two years Warner will still have a good bit of success throwing 57 touchdowns and racking up an outstanding 4,830 yards through the air in 2001. The yardage total of 4,830 ranked 3rd all-time and led to Kurt Warner receiving his 2nd MVP award in 3 years while leading the Rams to another Super Bowl appearance. The Rams lost a close game to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, but Warner still amassed over 365 yards the 2nd most in Super Bowl history behind his 414 yard performance in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Warner seemed to be on the fast track as one of the NFL’s all-time greats at the quarterback position despite his late entrance into the NFL. However, the following years were anything but expected. In 2002, Warner broke a finger on his throwing hand after a 0-3 start and despite making a comeback effort only played in two more games the rest of the season. Warner got the starting role back in the 2003 season opener, but after fumbling 6 times in the opener against the New York Giants his season was over before it begun. Marc Bulger took over the QB position for the Rams and Warner was left on the sidelines for the rest of the season and was releases by the Rams at the end of the year in 2004. During the off-season, Warner found a home with the New York Giants. However, this fit could be seen long before it happened that it was not going to work. Warner had become popular behind explosive offensive attacks and the New York Giants offense was more balanced power attack. Not to mention the Giants had already signed their future franchise quarterback in rookie Eli Manning. Warner got the Giants off to a 5-2 start before going through 2 straight poor performances that resulted in losses and Eli Manning would take over behind center. Following the season, Warner signed a one year contract with the Arizona Cardinal in a move similar to the St. Louis situation where a talented receiving core based around a west coast offense was in search of quarterback to give them a spark.

During the beginning of the Arizona campaign in 2005, Warner battled injuries in the midst of mediocre performances and finally partially tore his MCL at the end of the season. The popular belief quickly became that Kurt Warner’s days of a starting quarterback in the NFL were over and that he may even retire. However Warner got off to a fairly good start in 2006, but shared time with Matt Lienart who many thought was the future for the Cardinals. Leinart got the nod going into the 2007 season, but after some poor performances Warner would have to come of the bench and give Arizona a much needed confidence boost. Warner ended the 2007 season with a rather effective impression falling one touchdown short of a franchise record with 27 TDs for the season along with 3,417 yards as well. Warner got the start entering this season and it quickly became apparent that all the pieces of the Arizona offense had finally got glued together. Arizona sported one of the most potent passing attacks in the NFL and Warner led the assault by amassing over 4,583 yards and a franchise record 30 touchdowns. Warner’s ability to direct the talented Arizona offense down the stretch this season has become eerie similar to that of his performance with the St. Louis Rams. Despite the year’s of underachieving, Warner has the opportunity to grab his 2nd Super Bowl ring and become the first ever quarterback to win the first franchise Super Bowl with two different teams. If Warner can lead the Cardinals into another postseason upset, the years from 2002-2006 will likely be forgotten forever.

The debate is so popular because the argument is legitimate from both sides. Many people may argue how can a guy receive the Hall of Fame talk when he spent nearly half his career battling for a starting position? However, looking at the statistics side of the argument Warner would likely be a lock. After all how can you turn down someone who has the second highest completion percentage all time at 66%, 3 Super Bowl appearances, 1 Lombardi Trophy, a Super Bowl MVP, and 2 NFL MVP awards? Warner also has a few more notable statistics including the highest passing yards per game average in NFL history at 261, the highest percentage of 300 yard games at 45%, and is tied with Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger for the most games with a perfect passing rating. However, the sad thing is that without this year’s breakout Warner might not be in any of the Hall of Fame talk. Still his performance down the stretch has been noticed by everybody in America and truly spectacular to watch. It is safe to say if he can pull off another underdog type feat and win his 2nd Super Bowl then the 37 year old can make retirement reservations for Canton, Ohio, but for now let the debate rage on.

Another Wild Wednesday in College Hoops

January 29th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on Another Wild Wednesday in College Hoops

How’s that popular saying go? Another one bites the dust, or at least another top ranked team that is. The Duke Blue Devils become yet another victim of the growing trend of number 1 ranked teams to fall in the opening month of 2009. The Blue Devils and Wake Forest ACC classic highlighted what turned out to be the second straight wild Wednesday in the last two weeks. Here is a recap of the night and how some of big games turned out.

#4 Wake Forest 70 – #1 Duke 68

Wake Forest controlled this game from the start making plays all over the court. The Demon Deacons highlights probably flooded the top 10 plays of the night with an outstanding put back slam, a between the legs pass followed by a dunk, and also an inbounds pass with less than 3 seconds to go that lead to James Johnson making the winning shot. Yes the Demon Deacons responded nicely after last week’s upset loss to Virginia Tech that knocked them out of the number 1 ranking. Wake Forest controlled the majority of this game. However, Duke did show that they are a very strong team as they made a valiant comeback effort. Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson may have been the only two Blue Devils on the floor last night or at least that is the only names that were heard considering the rest of the team must have still been back at Cameron last night. Still Duke closed what was an 11 points gap late in the second half to tie the game with 14 seconds to play after a great shot by Gerald Henderson who scored 20 points on the night. Unfortunately Duke poorly covered the inbounds pass to Johnson and perhaps turned it up a notch a tad to late. The Blue Devils become the 3rd team in 3 weeks to get knocked off the number 1 ranking only two days after earning the top spot.

#3 Pittsburgh 57 – #21 Villanova 67

The Pittsburgh Panthers were the 2nd upset victim of the night to 21 ranked Villanova. Early on in the game the Panthers were quick out of the gates and even jumped to a 10 point lead. However, junior guard Reggie Redding came on strong as the game progressed knocking down 18 points and the Wildcats took over. Villanova capitalized off a poor shooting performance from Pittsburgh to grab their first victory over a top 25 opponent this season despite 4 attempts before. Pittsburgh shot a disappointing 41% from the floor and an embarrassing 3-16 (18%) from behind the arc. Not to mention the Pittsburgh starting lineup only accounted for a total of 36 points the entire night. The loss marked the Panthers 2 loss in the last 4 games while dropping them further down in the Big East standings. Considering Marquette and Louisville is still undefeated in conference play, the Panthers can not afford any more defeats or they can say goodbye to Big East regular season title hopes. With the no. 1 and no. 3 teams both losing on Wednesday night you expect their to be some shake up in the rankings amidst the Top 5 as Connecticut will likely take over the top spot.

#6 North Carolina 80 – Florida State 77

The Tarheels barely escaped becoming the 3rd top 10 team to be upset on Wednesday night. By saying barely escaped is a mere understatement, considering North Carolina trailed in the final moments of the game. If you saw the Duke and Wake Forest ending where James Johnson hit the game winning lay-in with less than 3 seconds to go, you still only saw the second best finish of the night. In another ACC classic type game, North Carolina and Florida State battled back and forth over the closing minutes of the game. In a game where former Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough was held to a season low 8 points, teammates Danny Green and Ty Lawson picked up the slack. Toney Douglas drained 32 points for the Seminoles as they appeared they would get the victory with as they led by 3 under a minute and a half to go in the game. However, Danny Green came up with a huge steal for North Carolina taking it the length of the court and getting the bucket and the foul that eventually led to the game being tied at 77-77. Florida State had a chance to win, but somehow let the shot clock expire with 3.2 seconds to go after a Hansbrough block. Ty Lawson grabbed the inbounds play and sprinted up the court and delivering a floating three pointer that sailed through the net with the buzzer blaring in the background. At first it appeared, the shot came out to late but that did not stop the Tarheels from celebrating. Shortly after, the shot was confirmed legit as the Tarheels escaped Tallahassee capping yet another action filled Wednesday. In case you missed the ending, have a look…

Tiger Eyeing Return

January 28th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in Golf / PGA Tour   1 Comment »

It may be a bit early to start up the PGA talk, but the season has officially begun with the Mercedes-Benz Classic in Hawaii over two weeks ago. This time of year the golfing world is usually rather slows with the biggest names in the sport not picking up action until normally around February. Missing in action at the start of this season is the sport’s biggest name in Tiger Woods. Woods went through season ending surgery after having a torn ACL last June following the U.S Open. Tiger amazingly defeated Rocco Mediate in sudden Tiger Woodsdeath in the U.S Open after playing on a knee with a torn ACL and two stress fractures that displayed one of the most heroic accomplishments in sports history. However, since that time little has been said about the greatest golfer on the planet since he has kept quite through his rehabilitation process. After Tiger’s absolutely absurd showing at last year’s U.S Open, America’s number 1 ranked golfer nearly immediately received surgery to repair his severely damaged knee one week after winning his 14th major. Tiger had played many months on what doctors had called a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Doctors also told Tiger two weeks prior to the U.S Open that he had obtained two stress fractures in his left knee and forbid him to play. However, Woods responded with “I am going to play, and I am going to win.” Strong words for a man on one leg, but that is exactly how it happened. Tiger did not go out and dominate the field, but he made two birdies on the 18th hole to force a sudden death and again to tie Rocco Mediate on the 18th hole in sudden death. Woods then won the event on the next hole in a double overtime like performance sealing one of the most memorable wins in the history of golf.

Augusta, GA in early April. The nearest competitor with the closest odds is Phil Mickelson at 10 to 1. If you were like me you might have been hoping for some really good odds with Tiger considering he is coming off a huge knee surgery, but that is not to be.Tiger’s return has the media around the world in a frenzy trying to predict the exact tournament that he will finally step back onto a golf course. Tiger reportedly has said that he is still uncertain what the date of his return will be, but of course there is no way he will miss the Masters in April as he seeks his 15th major and his 5th green jacket. Despite only playing 6 events last year, Tiger had 4 wins and it will be very interesting to see how fast he returns to Tiger status. The Associated Press has marked Tiger’s return to come for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at the end of February. However, that is still a guess to say the least. There are also many other places Tiger could make his return depending on how the recovery process goes. The WGC-CA Championship at Doral in mid-march is another likely scenario considering the tournament is in Tiger’s home state at a course he really likes. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is an event Woods never misses, but may be a bit to close to the Master’s to be his first return.

Despite the date and time Tiger will make his return to golf, one thing that is certain is that the world will be watching. The sport of Golf seemed empty last year without Tiger on the course not to mention a drop in television ratings. When Woods does decide to come back it will be one of the most anticipated moments of the year. Golf will benefit from having Tiger back on course no matter how he plays, because everyone will be watching to see how the knee will hold up and if the time off has affected his game. However, I think we all know that Woods still has a lot left in the tank and I seriously doubt that we have seen the last of the legend that is Tiger.

Paul Barely Misses Milestone

January 27th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NBA Basketball   Comments Off on Paul Barely Misses Milestone

On the midst of all the exciting action that has been going on in college basketball over the last few weeks it has drawn attention away from the NBA. However, last night Chris Paul nearly reached an achievement that can not go unnoticed. The New Orleans Hornets got a big victory over the Philadelphia 76ers last night 101-86 and closed to only one game behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division Standings. Hornets’ star point guard and last year’s MVP candidate Chris Paul nearly made history by earning a rare quadruple-double in his magnificent performance against the 76ers on Monday night.

Chris Paul has been extraordinary over the last two seasons running the New Orleans offense from the guard position. Outside of his tremendous ability to score at anytime and post big number Paul gains a lot of recognition from his ability to lift the other players around him. Paul leads the NBA this season with 11 assist and sports a double-double average with 21 points as well per game. However, on Monday night Chris Paul elevated his game even more. The playmaker out of Wake Forest got off to a fast start and showed how valuable he is on every end of the court. Paul racked up 15 assist by the end of the night along, 10 rebounds, 7 steals, and 27 points barely missing a rare quadruple double. It was quite apparent that Paul was running the show and to even have the quadruple double talk discussed is quite an accomplishment in itself.

For Chris Paul, the game marked his 3rd triple double of the month and also the second time this month where he has accumulated 7 steals. Paul is known for his ability to swipe the ball on defense and of course has led the league for some time in the assist category. However, when Paul put them all together in what turned out to be a brilliantly played game. Paul came up nearly 3 steals away from achieving the quadruple-double. While it may sound far fetched to ask for 3 more steals, Paul performance proved to be one of the better games all around in NBA history not to mention how many fantasy players cashed in huge points last night off his feat.

So how big is the seemingly impossible quadruple double? Actually if Chris Paul could have got the 3 more steals last night, it would have only been the 5th time in NBA History a player reached the quadruple double. 4 players have reached the quadruple double throughout the history of the NBA and only 1 player has accomplished the milestone including the steals category by the way of Alvin Robertson of the Spurs back in 1986. The other 3 players reached the accomplishment through earning more than 10 in the blocks category. Paul would have been the first player to reach this feat in the last 15 years considering the last quadruple double came in 1994 by David Robinson another Spurs player. The first ever player to reach the quadruple double was Chicago Bulls’ Nate Thurmond by in 1974 and the only other player to earn the accomplishment was NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon back in 1990.

While Paul’s performance will likely be forgotten in the next few games, it should gain some respect and marvel those NBA enthusiast that love rare accomplishments. Despite failing to actually get the quadruple double, Chris Paul deserves all the attention for getting near the feat in today’s NBA game that is usually conquered by players trying to score as many points as possible. However, Paul proves time and time again that he is a true team player that will do whatever it takes to get the win for his team. The little guy is fun to watch and so is the race in the Southwest between the Hornets and the Spurs. After a few days of wild College Basketball action seemingly drowned out the NBA play, Chris Paul delivers a big game and gets the attention back towards the NBA.

Intentional or Not?

January 25th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   1 Comment »

College Basketball on Saturday always brings some wild action to the court. A great game along with a bit of controversy emerged from Tucson, Arizona on Saturday when the Arizona Wildcats hosted the Houston Cougars in what turned out to be a great basketball game. Heading into the game Arizona has been really struggling and ranked near the bottom of the Pac-10. Houston on the other hand has been fairly good with a 12-4 record going in to the contest. Houston started out of the gates strong and quickly suggested that Arizona would fall victim by a steam rolling defeat yet again. However, an unlikely change of events would make a big impact on the game.

Late into the second half in a game where Houston was rolling 63-51, Cougars standout guard Aubrey Coleman and Arizona’s forward Chase Budinger were involved in an altercation. Coleman is the second leading scorer for the Cougars and already had 14 points and 7 rebounds. However, Coleman was called for a charge after driving into Budinger. After Budinger fell to the floor is when the action picked up, Coleman appeared to glance down before stepping directly on the face of Budinger. Budinger quickly popped up and went after Coleman and a few pushes and shoves were exchanged. Budinger got charged with a technical foul for his retaliation tactics. The referees decided that Coleman’s actions where intent while charging a flagrant foul and also ejecting him from the game.

The altercation ramped up the Wildcat home crowd while also igniting the team. Arizona appeared more motivated the last 9 minutes following to close out the game. The Wildcats trimmed the lead slightly, but still trailed by 8 points with a minute and a half to go in the game. However, with the help of a Houston turnover and some two missed free throws in the final seconds Arizona guard Nic Wise hit a game tying 3 pointer with 10 seconds to go to force the game into overtime tied at 88-88. In the extra period, there was not much scoring involved. Wise hit the only basket from the floor with another long ball behind the arc and the Wildcats surged for the 96-90 victory. Houston definitely suffered a bit down the stretch without Coleman’s presence and the Cougars failed to hit a single shot from the floor in overtime going 0-10.

After the game, there was a lot of expected talk about the altercation on the floor. Houston coach Tom Penders admitted to how big of impact not having Coleman on the floor affected the team. Penders also went on to take up for his starting guard by saying that he definitely did not think the actions were intentional. The argument may be made because of how Coleman made the malicious action appear. Seemingly it appeared he accidentally stepped across Budinger while coming down on his head, but if you look at the replay Coleman clearly looks down at Budinger before lifting his head and stepping on the forwards face. Despite the intent of Coleman, the officials most likely made the right call by at least ejecting him from the game and avoiding any other conflicts that may have taken place the rest of the game. Still the game was a perfect example of how heated and passionate the basketball action gets on the floor which is why fans love College Basketball. Decide for yourself, if you think this action was purposely intended by Coleman by checking out the video here…

NBA Mid-Season Outlook

January 24th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NBA Basketball   Comments Off on NBA Mid-Season Outlook

The NBA regular season a little more than halfway through and there is a pretty clear sight of who are the front runners with the chance for a few more teams to make a surprise down the stretch. The Eastern Conference appears to be the strength of the league with the powerhouses of Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando. Out West we still await a contender to emerge to be able to challenge the L.A Lakers and the most likely team to take that role is the San Antonio Spurs. At this time in the season is when all the predictions start coming out and the betting lines are changing every day with new future odds. We break down the top 3 teams in each conference and provide some insight on some teams to keep an eye on that could surprise down the stretch.

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics (36-9)

The defending NBA Champions had the best start in NBA history at 27-2. However, the Celtics rang in the New Year poorly losing 4 out of their first 5 games and even 7 out of 9 at one point. The tough weeks of basketball exposed the first sign of troubles from Boston that we have seen in some time. Despite the tough stretch that featured 3 of 4 of their last losses on the road, Boston has bounced back with a vengeance. The Celtics have now knocked off 7 straight wins including a big win over what many call the best team in the league the Orland Magic last Thursday night 90-80. The difference in the wins and losses is how the Celtics play defense. In the Celtics last 4 defeats, the opponents were averaging 100.2 points per game. However, in the last 7 victories the Celtics have held opposing teams to only 88 points. The Celtics are 2nd behind Cleveland in scoring defense this season and that has always been a big attribute to their success. With the troubles seemingly out of the way, Boston appears to be right back where they left last off last year.

Orlando Magic (33-9)

The Magic that is Orlando comes in the form of 6’11 Dwight Howard. Howard has been superb this year and so has the rest of the Orlando lineup. Howard leads the league in rebounds (14rpg), blocked shots (3.2bpg), and also supports with 20 points every game. However, it has not been all the achievement of one man. Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jameer Nelson are all averaging at least 17 points while the Magic are averaging 101 points per contest. Orlando had won 8 straight games before their loss to Boston on Thursday night and they own a 7 ½ game over Atlanta in the Southeast. Orlando is the only team out of the top 3 in the Eastern Conference to have captured a victory over the L.A Lakers this season which is clearly the best team right now in the West. The Magic are actually 2-0 over the Lakers and many think they are the most complete team at this point in the season.

Cleveland Cavaliers (32-8)

Cleveland appeared to be the best team out of the East only a matter of a few short weeks ago. However, the Cavaliers have gone 2-2 in their last 4 games with losses over the Lakers and Trailblazers. Not to mention Cleveland is facing some key injuries over the last few days. Starting shooting guard Delonte West has a broken wrist and will miss 4-6 weeks. Also starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas has a fractured ankle and will miss 3-4 weeks. Despite the small dark cloud that has recently developed over the team, Cleveland is still among the best in the NBA. Lebron James is 2nd in the NBA in scoring with 27.8 points and the team seems to be playing better behind him than they have in past seasons. The Cavs also are a perfect 20-0 at home meaning that they could be very tough to beat at playoff time.

Team to watch…

Philadelphia 76ers (20-21)

The 76ers have risen from the dead after they were nearly written off with a 13-20 start. However, they have now put together 7 straight wins before a tough loss to Dallas on Monday night. Considering how inconsistent the rest of the East is behind the top 3, the 76ers have a chance to really make things interesting if they can put together another similar streak.


Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers (34-8)

The Lakers clearly look to be favorites again out of the Western Conference as they have a 5 game advantage over any other team from the West and a huge 10 ½ game lead in the Pacific division. Kobe Bryant’s 26.4 points per game is good for 3rd best in the league and the Lakers lead the NBA with 108 points per contest as a team. A few short weeks ago the Lakers appeared that they would be unchallenged this year in the conference, but they are realizing that the San Antonio Spurs are playing very well and will attempt to give them a challenge for frontrunner in the West. Los Angeles has won 13 of their past 16 games including big wins over Boston and Cleveland in the process. If nothing else drastically changes, the Lakers will likely make another run towards the NBA Finals.

San Antonio Spurs (29-13)

A lot of questions arose after the Spurs got off to a slow start losing 5 of their first 7 games. However, San Antonio bounced back winning 7 of their next 8 and the momentum has not slowed down much since. The Spurs have now won their last 4 games and 8 of their last 10 including a huge battle where they took down the Lakers 112-111. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker continue to lead the way both averaging 20.4 points per contest. The Spurs win over the Lakers proved that they are back on the right track and not ready to hand over the season quite yet to the Lakers considering Los Angeles is everybody’s pick to win the West. San Antonio gets another big match-up with the Lakers this Sunday and it will be interesting to see how things shake up this time inside the Staples Center. Look for the Spurs to be playing their best basketball as they usually do around post season time.

Denver Nuggets (28-15)

Giving up Allen Iverson may not been a big of mistake as people first thought. Chauncey Billups is averaging nearly 20 points and the Nuggets seem to be in better shape than the Pistons. Carmelo Anthony leads the team with 21 points, but has missed some valuable playing time recently due to a broken hand. Despite their star player missing time on the court, the Nuggets have still managed to win 8 of their last 11 games. Anthony participated in some workouts on Thursday and it should not be long before he rejoins the lineup. Denver will desperately need him back considering they are bout to embark on an 8 game road adventure at the start of February. The Nuggets are only 11-9 on the road this year and how they perform in the next few weeks away from home will definitely make an impact on their ability to maintain their 2 ½ game lead over Portland in the Northwest.

Team to watch…

New Orleans Hornets (26-14)

The Hornets proved last year that they could really come alive during the playoffs. Chris Paul has played like Chris Paul with 21.2ppg and an NBA leading 11 assist per game. New Orleans may have been expected to be in better position at this point in the season, but they are still only a mere 2 games back to the Spurs and definitely in striking range.