Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Bulls’

DRose

Derrick Rose during an interview after Monday’s practice with the U.S. Men’s National Team. (Photo: W.G. Ramirez)

W.G. Ramirez

I had never met Derrick Rose before this past week, during the U.S. men’s national team opened training camp here in Las Vegas.

In previous years, he’s been dealing with knee injuries, so he hasn’t accompanied Team USA here.

Turns out, the Chicago Bulls point guard and I have something in common.

Forget for a moment I have plenty in common with any other father who loves his son, that’s not the point. While interviewing the 25-year-old professional basketball player, what I realized when speaking to him, is the genuineness he spoke of when relating to his toddler son PJ, who will turn two in October.

On Monday after practice Rose said “I take the game serious, basketball is my life.” But what I’ve come to learn even further, is the one driving force behind Rose wanting to be back on the court – more than winning an NBA title or Gold medal – is PJ. It’s an undying, parental love I fully understand.

I get it.

As a single father of 18 years, I comprehend what it means to dedicate your existence so someone who depends on you can live their life easier. It’s how I’ve been since before my son was born. I had outfits and Nikes picked out before my son came into this world. I knew things he’d be doing, how I’d provide for him and that he’d be my rib once he entered the world.

For Derrick Rose, that’s how it is with PJ.

“Most people in my profession really don’t get the chance to be around their kids,” said Rose, who is one of 10 pure guards competing for a spot on the 12-man roster Team USA will take to Spain for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. “It’s fun to be around him because it takes my mind off of everything. Him playing around, he’s fun to be around.”

That’s why, Rose said, for him to be around PJ as much as he has been, he’s looked at these injuries as more of a blessing in disguise. They’ve allowed him to be a part of PJ’s life at the most crucial time in a baby’s life, the beginning of it. Rose isn’t just a daddy – he’s a father. He’s been able to see PJ’s first steps, enjoy his first words, laugh along with his first giggle and quite possibly, tear up among PJ’s many first-shed tears.

So rather than dwell on the injuries that limited him to just 10 games last season, and clipped him from the 2013 playoffs, Rose has made sure he’s been around his son every other day – if not daily – while rehabbing his knee. He’s called being a father the “perfect distraction” to stay sane and grounded, while the world around him has been in a frenzy about his knee. When he’s not with his son, Rose said he’s most likely been either working out with weights, conditioning his knee or on the court perfecting his game.

“I can’t give up, I have a son that’s looking up to me,” Rose said. “When he gets older and realizes what’s going on, he’s going to look back, and hopefully that’ll give him some motivation, knowing I had to go through so much. I hope that pushes him to be a great individual.”

I know what he means, trust me.

I’ve been through my own trials and tribulations. And though D-Rose and I live two entirely different lives, I can appreciate knowing every thought, during every waking moment, he is thinking about PJ.

PJ Rose

PJ Rose (Photo courtesy: Derrick Rose Twitter/@DRose)

It’s how I think about my son, Jordin.

“Derrick has the highest standards, just like the elite players – (Kevin) Durant, LeBron (James),” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He was an MVP of the league and one of the great players of the league. He’s been out, so Derrick’s going to be on a mission to get back to, not just playing and being good, but he wants to get back to being elite.”

Rose told me he knows this is only the beginning of a long journey – “a long grind,” as he puts it – but he’s ready to put the injury behind him and move forward by continuing to learn daily to become a better leader for not only the men’s national team and Chicago Bulls, but that little boy back in Chicago.

“Like I said, when he gets older, he’s going to look at this and hopefully it’ll make him better,” he said. “He drives me every day, to tell you the truth. I ask about him even while I’m here. I ask about him (and his mother) sends me pictures and videos every day, and that kind of gives me that extra boost when I don’t feel like doing the things I (need) to do like the maintenance on my body, the massages, and getting iced and stuff – I think about him.”

I feel you D. I get it.

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The following should provide you with a little insight for the upcoming semifinals in the Eastern and Western Conference, as we’re down to the NBA’s Elite Eight. I am giving you predictions in each series.
Hope you enjoy the write-ups!!!
Western Conference
No. 1 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (64-24 SU/4-2 playoffs, 54-34 ATS/3-3) vs.
No. 5 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (60-28 SU, 4-2 playoffs, 53-35 ATS/5-1)
Season series: Grizzlies, 2-1 SU and 1-2 ATS. One of the few teams to win its season series against the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City, the Memphis Grizzlies took two of three thanks to a road win way back in November, a 107-97 victory on the Thunder’s home court. Oklahoma City got revenge in January in front of its home crowd, winning handsomely by 17. In March, the Grizzlies went to overtime to secure a 90-89 behind Marc Gasol’s tip-in at the overtime buzzer. These two have history, too, as they meet two seasons ago in the postseason, with the Thunder winning in seven. It’s no surprise referees called nine technical fouls in the three games this season.
Oklahoma City Backstory: Isn’t it clear what the storyline is with this team? All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook is done for the season, as he was lost to a knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the playoffs, and now that the Thunder survived a scare against the Houston Rockets, one has to wonder how the Thunder will respond against a chief rival out of the Western Conference. Sure, there is Kevin Durant to contend with, but the Rockets proved there are ways to shut him down and frustrate the Thunder by double-, triple- and maybe even quadruple-teaming him at times.
Memphis Backstory: I told you two weeks ago the Grizzlies were the best series value I could find, and they looked solid against the Los Angeles Clippers. Now they seemingly ride into this series with a big ol’ chip on their shoulders, as they should, and just might be catching the Thunder at the right time. I love what I see from Zach Randolph, who might come out looking to make a statement against Kendrick Perkins, establishing whose boss. Both were ejected for an on-court fight, then ran to the back to finish the altercation. Personally, I believe Randolph has the edge, as he comes in after averaging 24.8 points during a four-game win streak, and certainly feels his team can get to the ship next month.
Key Trends (heading into the series): The road team has won four of the last seven meetings on the wood, but it’s even better at the window having covered six of those games. Memphis comes into this one having covered five in a row, 4 of 5 with a suitcase in hand and 4-1 against Northwest division teams. On the flipside, the Thunder have covered 22 of 32 against Southwest teams, but are mired in a 1-5 ATS slide at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Over/Under numbers (heading into the series): In this series, the Over has cashed out 20 of 28 times now. Memphis has gone Over in four straight on the road, and in 5 of 6 in intra-conference play, but it is also on a 21-7 Under run against teams out of the Northwest. The Thunder have stayed Under in 10 of 11 against the Southwest division and in 13 of 16 at home. They’re also 18-4 on the low against Western Conference teams.
Prediction: I’m sticking with my longshot Grizzlies in the playoffs, and think they’re in the right spot at the right time. I love the confidence they play with, and think they would love nothing more than to be the team to knock off the Thunder. I’m thinking Memphis in 7.
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No. 2 SAN ANTONIO SPURS (62-24 SU/4-0 playoffs, 45-41 ATS/4-0) vs.
No. 6 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (51-37 SU/4-2 playoffs, 49-39 ATS/6-0)
Season series: Tied 2-2 SU and Warriors 3-1 ATS. While the teams split the regular-season series, the most notable stat in this series is the Spurs winning an astounding 29 straight over the Warriors in San Antonio since 1997. Perspective: Tim Duncan was still playing at Wake Forest when that streak began. Even more perspective: if the Warriors want to win this series, that streak will have to come to an end. Interestingly, the Spurs shot just 41.7 percent and scored 10 fewer points than their season-average (103.6) against the Warriors during the regular season. Of course, in this volatile series, Golden State also shot a rather bleak 42.1 percent and scored nearly seven points less than its season average (99.9) per game.
San Antonio Backstory: If there is one edge the Spurs bring into this series, it’s the fact they  will have plenty of rested legs in aging stars Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Duncan after sweeping the rather dismal Los Angeles Lakers. If there is a downside for the Spurs, they’ll be facing a much different team than the Lakes, and guys like Ginobili, Parker and Duncan may feel their age once sizing up against the youthful and exuberant Warriors. Ginobili missed nine of San Antonio’s last 10 games due to a strained right hamstring. He turned around and averaged 11.3 points and 4.8 assists in just fewer than 20 minutes per game against the Lakers, but now he’ll be dealing with a faster and younger team – specifically Jarrett Jack, who started four of the six games against Denver and averaged 18.8 points, seven assists and 5.2 rebounds in the series.
Golden State Backstory: Anyone else with me in thinking Stephen Curry was the MVP of the first round? His 3-point prowess and rise to franchise-player status might have single-handedly willed the Warriors past an agile and physical Denver Nuggets team in six games. His relationship with coach Mark Jackson – who has played in some of the most fierce playoff series in modern-day history – has helped this team forget about Andrew Bogut’s left ankle and All-Star forward David Lee’s hip injury. The Warriors are playing with plenty of momentum, and I’m very interested in seeing how Bogut responds against Duncan.
Key Trends (heading into the series): Golden State is on a 6-0 ATS run in the postseason, as it covered every game versus Denver to improve to 16-5 overall dating back to the regular season. The Warriors have also covered 10 of 11 in Western Conference play and are on a perfect 5-0 road run. Meanwhile, the Spurs have failed to cover 7 of their last 10 at home and are mired in a 4-10 betting slide after a straight-up win.
Over/Under numbers (heading into the series): These two have stayed low in four of five meetings in San Antonio and 4 of the last five overall. Golden State has stayed Under in 6 of 7 against Southwest division teams, and 4 of 5 against winning teams. With the Spurs, they’ve gone Over in 4 of 5 at home, but have stayed low in 5 of 7 after winning on the wood.
Prediction: Call me crazy, but I like the underdog in this series, as I continue to marvel at how well Jackson is coaching and Curry is playing. The sharp-shooting guard drained 272 treys in the regular season, three more than Ray Allen’s record set in 2005-06, when he was in Seattle. Curry’s offensive surges from beyond the arc can take the wind out of any opponent, as we saw against Denver in the first round and certainly make the Warriors dangerous. I’m taking a shot here, and like the Warriors in 6.
Eastern Conference
No. 1 MIAMI HEAT (70-16 SU/4-0 playoffs, 49-37 ATS/3-1) vs.
No. 5 CHICAGO BULLS (49-40 SU/4-3 playoffs, 39-50 ATS/3-4)
Season series: Tied 2-2 SU and ATS. Both teams went 1-1 on their home floor, as the road team won the first two meetings, and the home team both got revenge toward the latter part of the season. Chicago struck first blood, winning in Miami 96-89 on Jan. 4. Miami got revenge on Feb. 21, winning in Chi-town by 21. But undoubtedly the ‘game heard round the world’ was on March 27, when the Heat’s 27-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt in a 101-97 loss in Chicago. Miami finished the regular-season series with a 105-93 win on April 14.
Miami Backstory: I don’t care what anyone says about a month and a half after the fact, the Heat will have a chip on their shoulders the entire time during this series, because of that March 27 loss at the United Center. I know for a fact through my friends in the media, LeBron James wanted that single-season record, and now he’ll do everything to make the Bulls pay. He knows Chicago is physical, and knows what the Bulls are capable of, but I know how good the Heat are right now. Miami looked fantastic against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, turning it up when it needed to, and sticking to the gameplan throughout.
Chicago Backstory: Where are Hawkeye and Trapper when you need them? The Bulls look much like a MASH unit coming into this series, with Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich’s status a question mark for Chicago, not to mention Derrick Rose still showing up in suit and tie. I can’t imagine who is going to have the task of covering King James… dare I say Jimmy Butler or Taj Gibson? The Bulls got through a seven-game series with the Brooklyn Nets, I’ll give them that; but this is a step up in class, and I’m not so sure Joakim Noah can continue these heroic efforts, especially in dealing with plantar fasciitis.
Key Trends (heading into the series): While the Bulls have lost 4 of 5 to the books when facing Southeast Division teams and the Heat are in on a 19-7 ATS run in the Eastern Conference semis, the straight-up winner in this series has covered seven straight meetings. Make note, also, the home team is on a 5-2 ATS run in this showdown.
Over/Under numbers (heading into the series): The Bulls closed out their series with Brooklyn going over in four straight, and have gone high 7 of 8 times when playing on just one day’s rest. Miami is on a 4-0 Under run and has stayed low in five straight against Central division teams. On the other hand, the Heat are in on an 11-4 Over run in the conference semis.
Prediction: I can’t imagine what that seven-game series did to the Bulls, but I don’t see them being able to carry the momentum over that quick against a well-rested Heat team. Take the defending champs here, as I like the Heat to win this series in 5.
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No. 2 NEW YORK KNICKS (53-34 SU/4-2 playoffs, 51-37 ATS/3-3) vs.
No. 3 INDIANA PACERS (53-34 SU/4-2 playoffs, 46-41 ATS/4-2)
Season series: Tied 2-2 SU and Knicks 3-1 ATS. The home team went 4-0 this regular season, with the Knicks winning the first meeting, the Pacers taking the next two, and New York closing things out last month with the win. If there is one game that stands out, it has to be te Feb. 20 meeting in Indianapolis, where the Knicks suffered their worst loss of the season, 125-91, in Indianapolis. That was just before what I like to believe was the best in-season acquisition for any team, as the Knicks signed Kenyon Martin shortly after that. The Knicks covered three of the four meetings, the lone loss coming in that blowout on Feb. 20.
to split the series and wrap up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 90-80 home victory April 14.  but was only 4 of 17 on 3-pointers (23.5 percent), while Paul George scored 20 a game for the Pacers.
New York Backstory: The Knicks are far different team than the one that shot just 37 percent from the field and 26 percent against the Pacers in the regular season. Carmelo Anthony averaged 22 points against Indiana, but he too has improved down the stretch, and I think has the potential to emerge as the MVP of the conference semifinals (I say Steph Curry was the MVP of the opening round). But the X-factor for this team in this series is going to be Tyson Chandler, who looked fully recovered from a bulging disk that kept him sidelined for much of the end of the regular season. I think he needs to step up to double-double status, and will need to challenge the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert, who averaged a mere 5.5 points and 6.3 rebounds against the Knicks.
Indiana Backstory: The Pacers finally found their road game in the opening round against Atlanta, as the home team was dominant over the first five games. Their Game 6 performance might have been what they needed, as they snapped a 13-game losing streak in Atlanta that dated back to December 2006, before heading to the Big Apple to open this series at Madison Square Garden. The biggest question mark will be to see how the team responds in the series-opener on Sunday, as the Pacers are looking at being on the road for six days.
Key Trends (heading into the series): While the home team has won five straight on the hardwood in this series, the Knicks come into this series having covered six of the last eight meetings. New York is also on ATS win streaks of 10-1 against winning teams, 5-1 against the Central Division, 17-6 in intra-conference play and 19-7 overall. On the flipside, the Pacers are mired in ATS slides of 8-21 against the Atlantic Division, 2-7 in the conference semis, 4-9 against intra-conference foes and 1-4 with a suitcase in hand.
Over/Under numbers (heading into the series): Beginning in this series, which begins in New York, the Under is on a 4-1 run when these two meet at Madison Square Garden. The Pacers have gone over in 8 of 11 and in 9 of 12 against Eastern Conference teams. On the other hand, the physical Knicks have stayed low in five straight at home and 6 of 7 overall.
Prediction: This is such an intriguing series, given the Pacers spent a good portion of the season being labeled as the team that could challenge the Miami Heat in the playoffs. But here we are in the conference semifinals, and for the past two months it’s been the Knicks who look like the biggest challenger. I like New York in 6.
The following should provide you with a little insight for the upcoming postseason, as we approach the two-month stretch to determine your NBA champion. I am giving you predictions in each series of the Eastern Conference today, and will do the same later this evening in the Western Conference, except the ONE SERIES I feel is the BEST BET and will offer as part of a sales package this weekend – the Western Conference series between the Memphis Grizzlies and L.A. Clippers.
Hope you enjoy the write-ups!!!
No. 1 MIAMI HEAT (66-16 SU, 46-36 ATS) vs.
No. 8 MILWAUKEE BUCKS (38-44 SU, 36-45-1 ATS)
Season series: Heat 3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS. The home team won three of the four meetings, with Miami stealing one on the road last month. I make that point because the road team had dominated since mid-season 2011. The visitor in this clash has won 5 of 9, while the Bucks are 6-3 ATS in those games. After taking the Heat to overtime in the first meeting on Nov. 21, and eventually losing 113-106, the Bucks pulled off the upset on Dec. 29, winning by 19 points. Miami dominated the last two meetings, winning by 13 last month in Milwaukee, 107-94, on March 15 and by 11 earlier this month on April 9, 94-83.
Miami Backstory: After winning the NBA Finals last season, the Heat seemingly breezed through their 2012-13 campaign, setting a franchise record with 66 victories that included a 27-game winning streak while finishing with the best record in the NBA. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to average 48 points, and lead a team that was 37-4 at home this season.
Milwaukee Backstory: The Bucks, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and just the second time in eight years, haven’t won a playoff series since 2001. They closed the season by losing 12 of their last 16 games, including five straight setbacks before a season-ending 95-89 victory over defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City.
ATS Notes: The Bucks are mired in spread skids of 6-20 in Eastern Conference play, 2-8 with a suitcase in hand and 2-11 versus teams out of the Southeast Division. The Heat begin this series on Vegas streaks of 7-1 against Eastern Conference teams, 4-1 in South Beach, 4-1 in the conference quarters and 7-1 overall.
Over/Under: The Bucks were 40-41-1 this season with the totals, with vast differences in Milwaukee and on the road. When hosting games, the Bucks were 23-17-1. On the highway they were 17-24. Miami was 42-39-1 season-long, going 24-16-1 at home and 18-23 with a suitcase in hand.
Prediction: The Heat are going to be pumped to get the postseason started, and are far too experienced to dink around in the conference quarterfinals. Heat win this in 4.
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No. 2 NEW YORK KNICKS (54-28 SU, 47-34-1 ATS) vs.
No. 7 BOSTON CELTICS (41-40 SU, 36-41-4 ATS)
Season series: Knicks 3-1 SU and ATS. While New York won the season series with their arch-rivals for the first time since 2003-04, make note the road team was 3-1, a twist from last season when the home team swept the season series. The straight-up winner was a perfect 4-0 in this year’s games. The first meeting of the campaign became notorious when and Kevin Garnett exchanged words, and continued the argument outside Boston’s team bus after the game. After the teams split the first two in a pair of contentious games, the Knicks won by double digits in the last two contests, by 15 and 19.
New York Backstory: Just before acquiring Kenyon Martin at the end of February, the Knicks were playing mediocre basketball and couldn’t find a groove on the court. But since he joined the team, the Knicks are on a 22-8 run. And during a 13-game win streak New York’s offense produced triple figs in 10 of the games. They come into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the NBA after ending the Boston’s five-year reign as Atlantic Division champs while capturing their first division title since 1994.
Boston Backstory: The Celtics, who have never lost in the first round with Garnett and Paul Pierce, lost three of their last four games, including three straight on the road – in Miami, Orlando and Toronto. In fact, dating back to a five-game win streak that highlighted the start of March, the Celtics have lost 13 of their last 20 games.
ATS Notes: Boston comes into the playoffs on spread streaks of 12-5 against winning teams, 3-8 on the highway and 0-4 against intradivision rivals. Meanwhile, the Knicks are in on ATS win streaks of 4-0 against intradivision foes, 14-3 against intraconference opponents, 46-21 at home, 10-1 against winning teams and 20-6 overall.
Over/Under: Boston was 42-38-1 this season with totals, going 21-18-1 in Beantown and 21-20 as the guest. The Knicks were pretty much a .500 team when it came to totals, as they were 40-41-1 overall, going 20-21 with a suitcase and 20-20-1 at Madison Square Garden.
Prediction: The Knicks have emerged as the No. 1 contender to the Heat, and know they can’t afford to get into a brawl in this series. Boston may steal one at home, but the Knicks win in 5.
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No. 3 INDIANA PACERS (49-32 SU, 42-39 ATS) vs.
No. 6 ATLANTA HAWKS (44-38 SU, 37-43-2 ATS)
Season series: Tied 2-2 both SU and ATS. The home teams were undefeated in this series, with the Hawks winning the first two meetings in Atlanta, and the Pacers capturing the final two clashes in Indianapolis. These two were about as even as they come, as the Pacers outscored the Hawks 400-395 in the four regular-season meetings. The home team has always dominated this series going back almost three years, as the host is on a 9-1 SU tear. Atlanta holds the slight edge at the window in those games, with a 6-4 advantage. The straight-up winner is on an 8-2 ATS run, with the two losses coming this season when the Pacers lost the first meeting but covered as a 4-point dog, and the Hawks covered as a 6-1/2-point pup in Indianapolis just last month.
Indiana Backstory: The Pacers, once considered the top threat to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, closed the season by losing five of their last six contests. As the No. 3 seed, the Pacers return with four starters from last season’s playoff team: Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West. The one newcomer to the lineup is Lance Stephenson, who replaced former All-Star Danny Granger, who led the Pacers in scoring five straight seasons coming into this past one.
Atlanta Backstory: Atlanta, which is in the playoffs for the sixth straight season, has gone 11-15 since the start of March, and most recently looked far less than a playoff team, losing five of its last seven games. Though the Hawks were hammered in their last two games of the season, coach Larry Drew knows his players will be well-rested and healthy for what figures to be a physical series. The Hawks held out Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Devin Harris and Kyle Korver in Wednesday’s season-finale at New York.
ATS Notes: Though the Hawks have covered 6 of 8 on the highway and are on a 10-4 spread streak in the first round of the playoffs, they’re also mired in ATS slides of 1-8 against the East, 3-7 against winning teams and 2-8 overall. Meanwhile, the Pacers are stuck in ATS ruts of 0-7 versus Eastern Conference foes, 0-5 at home and 0-6 overall.
Over/Under: Indiana was 39-42 with its totals this season, with a 21-20 mark in Indianapolis and 18-22 on the road. The Hawks, meanwhile, were 42-39-1 on the year, going 22-19 at home and 20-20-1 while traveling.
Prediction: This might be the most contentious first-round series, in terms of physicality, as the Pacers had the No. 2 defense while the Hawks were ranked 13th, in terms of scoring defense. Look for Indy to take this in 7.
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No. 4 BROOKLYN NETS (49-33 SU, 39-41-2 ATS) vs.
No. 5 CHICAGO BULLS (45-37 SU, 36-46 ATS)
Season series: Bulls, 3-1 SU and ATS. Other than Chicago’s 11-point win on March 2 at the United Center, these two played very close games, with the underdog covering three of the four meetings. The average margin in the four games was 4.5 points, and if you throw out Chicago’s double-digit win last month, the average margin dwindles to 2.3 points per game. In Brooklyn’s lone win the Bulls were sans Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich. The straight-up winner in the last 10 meetings has covered 7 of those games, while the road team has covered 7 of 9 meetings.
Brooklyn Backstory: The Nets are in the playoffs after concluding their first season in Brooklyn, and did so behind one of the better scoring defenses in the league, allowing just 95.1 points per game, which ranked sixth in the NBA. They closed the season winning six of their last seven games, putting up triple figures in every one of their wins. In fact, in their last 12 wins of the season – spanning 17 games they went 12-5 – they averaged 108.5 points per game
Chicago Backstory: The Bulls won 45 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference playoffs despite being without Derrick Rose the entire season. Chicago had the No. 3 scoring defense in the NBA this season, allowing just 92.87 points per game. The Bulls come into this one as healthy as they’ve been all season, and hold the distinction of halting the two hottest win streaks of the season – Miami’s 27-game spree and New York’s 13-game run. Now the Bulls look to avenge last year’s first-round exit from the postseason.
ATS Notes: Chicago is in on a variety of ATS streaks, including 6-1 against winning teams, 7-2 versus the Atlantic Division, 2-6 against the Eastern Conference, 2-6 overall and 4-0 when visiting the Nets. On the flipside, Brooklyn checks into the postseason on ATS runs of 6-1 on extended rest, 5-2 in the opening round and a disappointing 5-12 at home.
Over/Under: The Bulls were 37-45 this season with the totals, staying under predominately at home with a 16-25 mark, while going 21-20 on the road. Brooklyn was 41-39-2 with the over/unders, going 21-19-1 at home and 20-20-1 with a suitcase in hand.
Prediction: I like the Nets’ attitude and how it takes charge with a little confidence, and something tells me they’re going to feel like the superior team, despite these two being the 4 and 5. I like Brooklyn in 6 games.

So the Miami Heat have won 27 in a row after Monday’s win and cover in Orlando. But as the oddsmakers have to be going through a state of New England Patriotism – how big a favorite do they make the Heat each time out – I think we may have found the right times to bet on or against the defending NBA champions.

Here are some analytical looks as to when to invest in the Miami Heat, and when to bet against them…

First of all, during this 27-0 straight-up (SU) win streak, the Heat are 16-11 against the spread (ATS). At home, they’re 6-8 at the window while cashing in 10 of 13 with a suitcase in hand. That’s not to say they’re always unfocused at American Airlines Arena in South Beach, and more focused on shuffling over to Prime Italian for their after-game meals.

Remember, the oddsmakers are more inclined to put a double digit number on the Heat at home, and as it is, the Heat are just 8-11 as a double-digit favorite this season.

What I did notice, no matter what the point spread has been at home, when the Heat return to Miami they’re 0-4 ATS in their first game back. They’re also 1-3 ATS in their second consecutive game back at home. If the homestand extends past two games, the Heat’s numbers improve, as they’re 2-1 in Game 3, 2-0 in Game 4 and 1-0 in the fifth straight game of a homestand.

On the road, the pyramid flips, as Miami appears to be immediately focused when hitting the highway, with a 3-1 ATS mark in Game 1 of a road trip. The number stays healthy, until Games 4 and 5 of an extended road trip.

The Heat are 3-0 in Game 2 of a junket, 2-0 in Game 3, 2-1 in Game 4 and 0-1 in Game 5.

As for how much rest the best team in basketball might need, the breakdown is as follows:

  • On the second of back-to-back nights: 3-4 ATS
  • Playing on one day’s rest: 11-6 ATS
  • Playing on two day’s rest: 1-1
  • And the five-day rest period over the All-Star break: 1-0

Finally, here is a breakdown of actual point spreads that are in your favor when betting on the Heat, and that work against you:

  • Miami is a perfect 6-0 ATS when laying anywhere from 3′ to 5′ points.
  • Miami is 8-4 ATS when laying a number ranging from 6 to 11 points.
  • Miami sinks to a lowly 2-7 ATS when laying 11′ or more points.

Obviously, when the Heat are playing tougher competition and the number is lower, their stars on the floor longer and covering numbers. When they’re playing mid-range teams that would likely seed 5 through 8 in their respective conference playoffs – pure speculation – they could be up big and coach Erik Spoelstra is pulling his stars late and there might be backdoor covers. And when they’re playing the dregs of the NBA, it’s obvious Spoelstra is taking no chances, his stars playing less time and the Heat are doing what they have to nab the straight-up win.

So, when do the Heat next step on the court and where do all these intangible fall into place?

Miami plays the second of a four-game road trip Wednesday night in Chicago, after one day’s rest. The Heat failed to win or cover -7-1/2 the first time these two played – in Miami on Jan. 4 – and then won and covered the -3-1/2 in Chi-town in the second meeting (2/21).

Based on everything I’ve just broken down for you, and with a guess the line will be about 4 or 4-1/2, I’d lay the points with Miami to make a statement.

Okay, so now that I’ve given all grace and glory to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, enough is enough.

I’ve never been a fan of the self-proclaimed King, and the only thing I’ve ever liked about the Heat, realistically is Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal raising the roof in 2006. Watching Wade do so with James after winning this year’s title didn’t bother me much, but what I can’t stand seeing now is all the articles about a rematch and how this is the next big rivalry of the NBA.

Uhm, excuse me. Did anyone forget about Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls?

Anyone else forget if his season painfully ended in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, and it was a torn ACL-injury in Game 1 that ultimately played a significantly played a role in the Bulls losing in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs to the Philadelphia 76ers?

Just as Michael Jordan, albeit never forgotten, was seemingly becoming a distant memory, April 28 became a day Bulls fans had nothing about His Airness to ponder until next year.

Well, as I saw the 2013 NBA Championship Future Odds come out not too long after James proclaimed “It’s about damn time” on national television, and I saw the Thunder and Heat were both +250 to win next year’s championship, I see Sportsbook.ag agrees with me that Chicago is going to be right back in the hunt.

The Bulls are next in line at +500, followed by: the Spurs (+700), Lakers (+1200), the Mavericks (+1500) and at +2000, the Celtics and Pacers.

So I’m not sure why there are so many columnists out there talking about the Thunder and Heat returning for another trip to the NBA Finals next June.

The Thunder? I can see it.

The Heat? I’m not so sure they have an easy path.

First order of business is to get Wade healthy, even if that means shipping him off to Germany to see the Kobe Bryant’s doctor to get that knee back in shape. I’m telling you now, if he doesn’t get that knee fixed NOW, the Heat won’t be around later. Next order of business, find a legitimate big man who can defend guys like Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez and Dwight Howard. Also, there has to be some sort of stipulation that Wade does not play in London, while James and Bosh get enough rest before and after the 2012 Olympics, cause it can be a tiring experience that cuts into needed rest. The Olympics begin in a month, with a full warm-up schedule preceding the games. Remember, Bosh was injured earlier in the playoffs, and we don’t know how he’s feeling now.

Now, as for the Bulls, this is what I read on their website:

“Derrick Rose is doing terrific. He’s been diligent in his rehab. He’s made tremendous progress to this point,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “The surgery obviously was a huge success. The biggest thing that has been encouraging about Derrick has been his mentality towards the rehab. He’s working each and every day, putting a lot of effort into it. We’re optimistic that if he continues to make the kind of progress that he has that we will see Derrick back on the floor at some point next season.”

That’s encouraging news for the Bulls, and the city of Chicago.

Again, I can see the Thunder returning, cause of the Western Conference contenders in line to make a run, I don’t trust the Spurs, Lakers or Mavericks. After the Thunder, the next viable number I see that might be worth an investment at its price: the Los Angeles Clippers at +3000. I mean, why not?

That organization has already started building for the future, while the Spurs, Lakers and Mavs have yet to clean house and start over. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see the Clippers continue their ascension in the Western Conference to challenge for the title and move into the NBA Finals.

HOTTIE – If you read my Blog before Game 5 of the NBA Finals, you read about my note regarding Miami-based model/professional sports dancer Alexis Augusto. Well get used to reading about her here, cause I’m going to remind all my players, readers and followers to vote for her every chance I get. I promised her I’d do so, as she is in the running for Maxim Magazine’s Hometown Hotties. And the first step is to get her into the Finals, that way we can get a bit more intimate with her, as I told her Thursday we’d conduct a one-on-one interview so her fans could get to her know her better.

She’s all in! Now it’s up to you to go to her PAGE and vote for this sports fanatic hottie. And trust me, she knows her game.

She’s been on the Miami Dolphins cheerleading roster, she’s been on the Florida Panthers Ice Dancer roster. She was a cheerleader for Florida Atlantic University. She’s a fitness model for VPX Redline and loves her some Yankee pinstripes. The list goes on, but believe me, this lady is all about competition.

As a betting man, my money in the Maxim Magazine Hometown Hottie competition is on Italian-American bombshell from Brooklyn, New York.

Goto her PAGE and vote for her now.