NBA Hardwood Handle: What to do for an encore?

What could the NBA do for an encore?

Between Kobe Bryant’s 81 points and the entire Ron Artest debacle the previous week, there was not much the NBA could do to surprise its fans.

But this week’s lack of drama doesn’t mean there weren’t some trends developing for bettors to take advantage of.

There is still no `D` in Seattle

Bob Hill knows to play to his team’s strengths.

The Seattle Supersonics new bench boss, who took over for Bob Weiss three weeks ago, could’ve tried to put his stamp on a defensively-lacking team by slowing down the pace and having the Sonics focus on stopping their opponents.

But knowing that was not Seattle’s strength, the veteran coach decided he would ramp up the offense, telling reporters last week that the Sonics would no longer matchup with teams instead saying, “teams will have to match up with us.”

Unfortunately, it appears the Supersonics have misunderstood their coach, skewing his remarks to mean they no longer had to matchup with their opponents on the defensive end. As a result the Sonics are still allowing an NBA-worst 106.7 points per game under Hill.

Their offense has improved. The Sonics own the second-best offense in the league, averaging almost 103 points per game. Watching them you get the sense you are watching a greyhound race at the track; the Sonics are great at going forward but have a complete inability to go backwards.

Over bettors don`t mind - the Sonics are 32-12-1 O/U this season, including a 9-6 mark under Hill.

Kings are coming around

Are the Maloof brothers really a pair of multimillionaire siblings or the reincarnation of the 1980’s wrestling tag team the British Bulldogs?

It was tough to determine seeing the two casino owners do the media rounds during the Ron Artest episode last week. But one thing is for certain, they will soon be taken for a pair of geniuses if the Sacramento Kings continue to play the way they did against the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night.

Buoyed by Artest’s 19 points and his tireless hustle, the Kings handled the Nuggets 98-91 as 3-point favorites. As well, his ability to keep Carmelo Anthony in check helped the under cash easily on a 201-point total.

Winning with the under cashing may become a common theme with the Kings as Artest continues to assimilate himself. His ability to stop a team’s best scorer while providing an offensive punch is unparallel.

They also have Bonzi Wells back in the lineup and the two of them provide an athleticism and physical presence at the shooting guard and small forward positions that no other team possesses. This combination should warrant Sacto some attention from bettors going forward.

Second unit has Mavs rolling

There is no better bench in the NBA than that of the Dallas Mavericks and because of this there is no spread the Mavs can’t cover.

For example, take Dallas’ game last Thursday against the Seattle Supersonics as a 5-point favorite. The Sonics, hot off a two-game win streak, came out firing, building an early 17-point lead.

Then Avery Johnson brought in his second unit. With a combination of size and experience the Sonics second-stringers were unable to match, the Mavs were back in the lead halftime, leading to an eventual 104-97 win.

It is this type of contribution that has helped Dallas cover eight of their last 10 games.

Prospects of the Mavs continuing this run became even better when the team welcomed Devin Harris back to the lineup Wednesday. The backup point guard is extremely quick and provides a different pace to the game than starter Jason Terry.

Pass on Pistons’ 72-win season

There has been no prop released on the Detroit Pistons equaling the 72-10 record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls but after talking to several sportsbooks it’s only a matter of time before oddsmakers release some kind of number.

When they do it would probably be best to bet the Pistons to not equal the record, no matter what kind of payout the books are throwing your way.

Sure, the Pistons are done with several of the NBA heavyweights (Spurs and Grizzlies) and their longest remaining road trip is only four games long, but 10 losses over an 82-game schedule is an incredibly difficult feat.

Do you realize the Pistons would actually have to play better than they have played? The Bulls’ winning percentage was .878 during the 1995-96 season while the Pistons are currently winning at a .864 clip.

To even have a chance, Detroit’s starting five can’t miss a game and Joe Dumars will have to find someone to help take the backcourt burden off of Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton.

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