Lakers Run of Covers Reminds Some of Patriots

Lakers Run of Covers Reminds Some of Patriots
by David Lane

Of all the NBA moves made prior to the trading deadline, the first trade that was made – the Los Angeles Lakers fleecing of the Memphis Grizzlies on February 2 which handed them stud forward Pau Gasol (19.6 ppg, 8.4 rb, 1.5 blks, and 52.7% fgp) – still appears to be just a bit above the rest, especially if you consider the immediate impact to his team. After the trade the Lakers have won now 13 of their last 14 and are currently working on a nine game winning streak after beating the Portland Trailblazers at home by 13 points – a game in which they failed to cover for the first time in nine games. In fact, they have covered the spread in 13 of their last 15 games, and amazingly enough 12 of them occurred on the road! Since road wins in basketball usually indicates just how good a team is, this is basically the NBAs equivalent of the New England Patriots already which begs the question of how long it will be before the point spread catches up with the team which will give astute bettors a great opportunity to fade the public consensus.

What should be even more frightening to the Western Conference and the rest of the league is that theyre still missing a very special piece in center Andrew Bynum (13.1 ppg, 10.2 rb, 2 blks, and a 63.6% fgp), who was already having the best season of his short three year career and is slated for a mid-March return. Not only was he an integral part of the team, but was also really flourishing in the triangle offense. After the injury the Lakers hit their worst run of the season losing five of their next seven including the only loss this season to division rival Phoenix Suns.

AT -105 AT 5DIMES?

Bynums return will not only allow Gasol to move from center to power forward where he should flourish, but will also put another terrific low post scoring option on the floor who can also block shots, rebound and defend alongside Lamar Odom (13.7 ppg, 10 reb, 3.4 ast and a 49.7 fgp) and Kobe Bryant (27.8 ppg, 6 reb, 5.3 ast and a 46.3 fgp). Theyll be virtually unstoppable on offense and in wins if they don’t get greedy and if they share the ball. Not only do they have what is arguably the best front line in the NBA but they also have who is arguably the best player to go with it, Kobe Bryant.

But thats not where it even ends yet with this team! The bench is certainly gifted as well with talented forward Ronny Turiaf, versatile guard/forward Luke Walton, Vladimir Radmonovich who is enjoying a nice year, Sasha Vujacic coming into his own, Jordan Farmar scoring, and veteran starting guard Derek Fischer adding character and stability. If you add it all up and then include a Hall of Fame Coach in Phil Jackson, its’ going to be really difficult for anyone to beat them.

The question of whether or not they will be equally adept in covering the point spread might just be a different story entirely, and as happened with the Patriots in football, it will be due to a large adjustment in the spread. The adjustment has already begun by the sportsbooks to try and persuade bettors to take the other side, like the Pats during NFL had done to them, they will be priced so highly that theyll be on the bookies side for the most part. At some point, most people will be forced to take the other side and the huge line that goes with it or most of their games wont appear attractive enough to even wager on to begin with, at least to astute bettors. There’s always those “squares” that don’t seem to get it though and that are likely to keep chasing the Lakeshow regardless of what line the book hangs.

On February 1, a day before the trade for Gasol was made, the Lakers were an underdog and received six and half points in a game at Toronto, one in which they won by 21 points. In their last road game at Seattle on the 24th of February they were favored by -11 – their highest line on the road all season – and they won the game by 20 points and covered. This game was followed up by the aforementioned Trailblazers home game in which they were installed as a 15 point favorite – their highest line at home all season – a game again in which they failed to cover. Granted, part of the reason for the line being so high was also due to Blazers star guard and leading scorer Brandon Roy hurting his ankle and missing the game. Anyhow, the run of covers also has been for the most part stress free as the final scores have seldom been close enough to sniff the number with their average win being by 15 points during this win.

Whats becoming obvious is that the oddsmakers are once again overcompensating and adjusting the line. Nothing lasts forever, I suppose, and what goes up must come down, however, these types of runs are few and far between. They can be very special while they last only they dont, at least not for long. Regardless, the ride can be fun and profitable for sure if you are astute enough to know when to jump off the gravy train and take a position on the other side!

If you use the early returns as a measuring stick the new look Lakers have scored an A plus grade in my book. Vegas has already positioned them as a 2 to 1 favorite to win the NBA finals and theyre looking up to that challenge already. They will still cover their fair share of games and expect another run when Bynum returns and gets in the flow. SEVEN defenders couldnt stop this team from scoring because their shooting percentages are collectively high as it is already and thats with one less serious threat on the court! Open shots will be abound because all are creative and can produce their own shots as well.

Once again, the purple and gold will be restored to what some feel is their rightful place – being in serious contention for the NBA title for many years to come.

In what many feel was an unbalanced trade in the Lakers favor, they have only begun to prosper and while at the same time they also happen to be one of the NBAs youngest teams.

Like they did to the Patriots, it seems that the oddsmakers are doing their best to catch up to the team and even out the balance of wins and losses which is their job after all.

If they were truly like the Pats, I suppose Coach Phil Jackson would be taping Gregg Popovichs signs to his team?

Hopefully for the Lakers and their fans, the outcome in the Finals will be better for them than was for New England!