The Knicks beat Philly 103-90 yesterday in their second to last preseason game.  They are now 4-2 in preseason, and handling Philly despite not having Quentin Richardson available (mild sprain ankle).  Jared Jeffries started at SF, and played his usual 20 minutes.  He had 4 points and, surprisingly, 4 assists.  Fred Jones came off the bench, and once again played alot in the 3-guard rotation Isiah loves... he had 16 points (5/6 shooting) and 5 rebounds, in 20 minutes.  Also playing 20 minutes and lighting it up?  None other than Nate Robinson (again): 20 points (8/10 shooting).  Zach Randolph looked good, with 16 pts and 10 rebound (7/11 shooting) in 26 minutes. 

Eddy Curry struggled, getting into foul trouble again (3 early offensive fouls).  He had 6 pts, 6 fouls and only 17 minutes.  A lot of the talk around the Knicks by the media has centered on how the Curry-Randolph tandem isn't working.  Keep in mind that they've played maybe four games together so far, and Curry has been in foul trouble in at least half of them. 

Last season, after the Iverson trade went down, Carmelo was still on suspension for like 10 games.  By the time they actually started playing together, it was after the All-Star break.  They didn't mesh too well at first - stats wise they did fine actually, but it wasn't showing up in the win column.  Until the end of the season, when they went on a late season tear.  When April came around, the Nuggets won 10 of their last 11 games.  They then got spanked by the eventual champions, the Spurs, but the greater point is this:  Even now, we still haven't seen the best of the Iverson-Anthony duo.  They needed at least a half season to mesh.  So, too, do Curry and Randolph.  There is no reason to write them off before the season has started, and before the All-Star break.  There will probably be more nights they two of them look a little uneasy than they look great.  No worries. 

They might not work out, but reserve judgment until they have had a half-season or so of playing together.  In the meanwhile, enjoy the new Knicks.  Despite lingering injuries in the preseason - Balkman, Quentin Richardson, Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry's shoulder - and despite Curry's foul problems, the Knicks have beaten the teams they should (like yesterday's victory over the 76ers, a weaker team that caused many problems for the Knicks last season), and they beat their strongest opponent of the preseason, the Celtics.  There is reason to be optimistic, as the Knicks have depth, energy, youth and savvy.  I would guess 45 wins and a playoff spot is not out of the questions.
Some of Las Vegas' lines on wins per team for this upcoming season:

Atlanta - 39.0
Washington 39.5 
Charlotte 35.5
Orlando 46.5
Miami 45.0

Apparently the Magic and Heat are the big favorites in the Southeast division.  Gotta say, the trade yesterday between the Heat and the T-Wolves (essential Ricky Davis for Antoine Walker, cap relief, and a future first-rounder) does benefit the Heat this year.  With the SE division as poor as it's ever been, the Heat added a third scorer to complement Shaq and Wade.  Of course, they also have Smush Parker at point guard. 

I'm not big on Orlando.  I like the Dwight Howard-Rashard Lewis tandem, but... I think 42 wins is more likely.  The best bet in this division is to take the Bobcats, who might get to 38-39 wins.  Bottom line: which tandem is better: Jason Richardson-Okafor, or Howard-Lewis?  Okay, even if you call that a draw, which point guard do you like better:  Raymond Felton or  Jameer Nelson?  Gerald Wallace, or Turko?  Walter Herrmann vs. Trevor Ariza?   The starting lineups are pretty evenly matched.

The Bobcats lost a lot of depth with the injuries to Sean May, Othella Harrington, and Adam Morrison, or else this wouldn't even be close.  Conclusion:  The Magic are either too high, or the Bobcats are too low.  Take the Bobcats.

Chicago 50.5
Cleveland 48.5
Detroit 50.5
Indiana 30.5
Milwaukee 36.5

The big three teams are all expected to repeat their success from last season.  Hard to argue, especially with the Southeast being as weak as it looks.  Still, one of these three teams is not going to do as well as they did last season.  I'm just not sure which one of the three!

New Jersey 43.5
Toronto 42.5
Boston 50.5
Philly 31.5
New York 36.5

Do I really need to tell you that taking the over on the NYK is the best bet?  Last season I made three bets - one was that the Knicks would top their expected wins (31); the other two were that the Grizzlies (38.5) and Indiana (43) would go under.  This season, I'm making only two bets.  One is the Knicks again to top 36.5 wins... the negative press is good for one thing, and that's to artificially deflate expectations.  The Knicks, especially after their summer league and preseason success, and the fact that they could be a player in the trade market come February (Ron Artest, AK47, Shawn Marion, even Kobe are all possible Knick targets) should be enough to expect the Knicks to net at least 41 wins.

Toronto also seems a bit low.  Didn't they win the division last year?  I wouldn't bet on them, but it seems like just because all the press has gone to the Celtics, the Nets and Raptors are underestimated.

Take the under for Boston if you feel like betting - the Big Three is really the Big Two, with Ray Allen looking more and more done.  Remember Bill Simmons article on draft day, where he blasted the Ray Allen trade?  He was right... Ray Allen can't guard anyone, and he can't take anyone, other than Jamal Crawford, off the dribble.  He can't get open off the screens quickly anymore, either.  He'll be a three-point shooter, a rich man's Jason Kapono.  And the Celtics have no bench, no depth, no experience at point guard.  They could conceivable trade for Sam Cassell, if only they had something, anything, to offer.  They don't, though. 

Finally, Western Conference teams of note:

Phoenix 56.5
Dallas  56.5
Denver 49.5
Houston 53.5
LAL 42.5
Minnesota 20.5
Memphis 33.5
San Antonio 54.5

No point to betting on Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, or even the Rockets.  All are too close to being on target to make it worth a bet.  Even the Nuggets, at 49.5, seem to expected to do well.  It's interesting to see that while the East has gotten better, no one is predicting the West to lose anything, either.  I would guess that the Suns and Mavs aren't as likely to win 60 games again, but Vegas is thinking that, too.  Shoot.

The Warriors are at 43 wins, which seems right.  If you really believe in them, go ahead and bet on them to go over.  I'll avoid betting on them, though, as they are unpredictable. 

Memphis, on the other hand...  that's my second bet.  The Knicks to go over is Bet 1; the Grizzlies to go over is Bet 2.  Can I win two years in a row betting on the Knicks and Grizzlies?  We'll find out in April.

Also worth a bet:  Houston at 10-1 to win the NBA title.  Put money on it before the odds drop to 4-1, which is what they will be come April.

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[October 25, 2007 6:23 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Ricky - Sixers4guidos said

Did u watch the Sixers game? I didn't, so I would like to know more about my fav team, how did it look like? anything/anyone that surprised you?

thanks my friend

[October 25, 2007 6:32 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Nah, Ricky, I didn't. I forgot to TiVo the game, and missed it. Wish I had some useful analysis for you, but I don't....

[June 13, 2010 8:05 PM]  |  link  |  reply
las vegas seo said

Thanks! I had a difficult time viewing your post in Internet Explorer 8. Just wanted to bring that to your attention! Thanks.

Spring Training 08

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