GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Well, my NBA betting career is off to a pretty craptacular start. The Spurs game played out much like I expected. It was very sloppy at first, but there seemed to be a lot of scoring anyway and they made it just past the over.

Next came the Dallas/Phoenix game. Had this ended at regulation, the score would have been 35 points under the total. If it had ended after one overtime, I would have made it by 13 points. In addition, Phoenix blew substantial leads in both regulation and overtime that would have given Dallas one of the 29 losses I need from them this year.

Of course, the worst thing of all happened after the games, when I realized that the system I was going to try to use to predict the scoring outputs of each team in early season games just wasn't going to work. I plugged in the Miami/Memphis game and got Memphis as a 32 point favorite! The first sign your system might be broken is when one of the top teams is favored to lose by 32 points. While it wouldn't surprise me if Memphis were a favorite, these numbers were obviously wrong.

The problem is that the data set I was using is just too small, and the method didn't really take into account things like team chemistry (which are generally harder to model mathematically anyway). I had planned to use these numbers and merge them with the actual numbers over the first 20 games of the season. Instead, I'm going to work them in over the first 10 games, although I might just readjust them and go for another 10 games.

In any case, I tried to use the numbers I had to come up with to get more accurate and reasonable estimates of what to expect. These numbers should at least give me a reliable jumping off point to make reasonable bets for a while.

And oh yeah...


I feel like I should give some analysis at this point, but I don't exactly know what to expect. Portland looks to be pretty horendous, so I sort of expect a win.

Since I don't really know exactly what to say, so I'll take some time to reply to what SBG said.

If there's one thing I learned about basketball this offseason, it's that being a great man defender in the NBA is vastly overrated (this is covered in some depth in Basketball On Paper). In lower levels of basketball, having guards who can play great defense (especially point guards) is an incredibly valuable asset to have. They can spearhead the defense and get steals that lead to easy points. However, by the time you get to the NBA, the ball handlers are simply too good for this to be effective.

The problem with being a strong man defender is that the offense always has the initiative, so they somewhat counteract your good man defense by essentially ignoring you. If you look at a lot of players who are known as defensive specialists, none of them really show good on court/off court numbers. For example:

Bruce Bowen
Doug Christie
Trenton Hassell

All of these players had their teams outscored while they were on the court last year.

Given the choice between someone who is a good defender but average offensively and someone who is average defensively and good offensively, I'll take the good offensive player any day. If a players is good defensively but not offensively, then he's not really adding anything on either end of the court. If he's not adding anything, then he's basically useless. The good offensive player is at least helping you to outscore your opponent on one end of the court.

For this reason, I'm perfectly fine with Wally being a go-to guy on our team, as long as he can defend adequately and stay within himself. He needs to shoot when he's open and not try to drive past 37 people to get to the basket. If he can do that, we'll all remember why he was an all-star some years ago.

On the flip side, if someone is a horrendous defender, the opposition can pick on him mercilessly, so it's very important that he is at least adequate on defense.

The exception to this rule comes at the center position. At high levels of basketball, getting good defense out of this position becomes much more important for two reasons. First, he's generally guarding the area of the court that's closest to the basket. In that sense, he's kind of like a goalie, and who cares if you goalie has a jump shot? Second, he's the most frequently used player when it comes to help defense. Because of this, it's much harder for the offense to simply ignore him.

It's running late so I'll come back with more thoughts on Marko et al. after I get a chance to see them.

Today's picks:
Washington(-2) over Toronto (20/20.19)
Atlanta/GS under 203.5 (20/20.56)
LAL/Den under 204 (20.40/20)

YTD 0-2 for -$54.20