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NBA News

NBA: Pistons introduce Bower as new GM

"I think the final decision thing gets overblown," Van Gundy said. "What we want is a collaborative process with a lot of hard-working, intelligent people, who are thinking, and then use the process to come to a decision."
Jeff Bower is now the teams general manager, after Van Gundy was hired as coach and team president last month. They both appeared at a news conference, then were available for more informal interviews afterward. Van Gundy was surrounded by reporters almost immediately, and its clear that hes still the face of the franchises next big effort to return to relevance.

But Bower brings plenty of experience at the NBA level to his new job. He was the coach at Marist College last season, but hes been a general manager and coach in the pros with New Orleans.

"Hes done almost everything at the NBA level," Van Gundy said. "Hes been an assistant coach, hes been a head coach, hes been a scout, hes been an assistant general manager, hes been a general manager, so hes got an experience that really allows him to know the NBA on every level of what goes on in terms of basketball operations."

Bower said his coaching experience helps shape the way he evaluates talent.

"Being able to see how players change and the impact that you can have on a players game always kind of kept that thought process in mind, that you can improve players, and that players can get better," Bower said.

Bower was the general manager of the Charlotte-New Orleans Hornets from 2001-03 and again from 2005-10. He also coached the team in 2009-10, going 34-39.

Bower has also been an assistant coach at Penn State and Marist. Van Gundy said their relationship dates to when Bower was an assistant at Marist and Van Gundy was an assistant at Fordham.

"Ive always had a tremendous respect for people who have really had to work their way up the ladder," Van Gundy said.

NBA: Phoenix at San Antonio (9:30E – ESPN)

The Spurs have to win Apuestas Deportivas Golf Betting Online Bingo Sportsbook March Madness Contest four of their next five games to advance to West Finals and even having its three stars seemingly healthy might not be enough to make that occur. It seems that Phoenix has all of its pieces meshing at this point in time and appears to be a real threat to the Lakers in the Western Conference. With the Spurs in a must-win spot at home in Game 3 of this series, oddsmakers have listed San Antonio as a 6-point favorite.

Basketball is five on five with every player having a job to do. Though Tony Parker is coming off the bench, he’s playing starter minutes. (36:05 in Game 2) And even if you take bench scoring in the literal sense, San Antonio was outscored 31-24 by players that came off the Phoenix chairs, which was essentially the difference in 110-102 final.

Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have been carrying this franchise for years, unfortunately they can’t do it alone and need more help. This helps explain an 11-25 ATS record revenging a road loss over the last two seasons. Richard Jefferson was more effective in the last contest, but Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner were non-factors.

Phoenix on the other hand showed the depth of the Chinese Red Army. The Suns starters were a step slow, out of rhythm and playing mediocre basketball as they trailed 30-21 after the first quarter.

Coach Alvin Gentry had just pleaded with his team to give more effort and in came Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Louis Amundson. Phoenix exploded with increased energy, scoring, rebounding and playing tighter defense. The starters watched as their teammates led the surge on San Antonio and by halftime the game was knotted up at 51.

Dudley in particular was the star of stars. "He was my player of the game -- he made some huge plays for us," Steve Nash said. "He did a bunch of things that more than anything gave us energy and confidence and changed the game and enabled us to come back and tie at halftime just because of his energy and spirit."

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich seconded that notion: "Jared Dudley changed the whole game. He came in and was a monster. He was committed to the boards, and it was infectious."

The Spurs need this type of player to help the power trio against a Suns’ team that is shining bright with a 20-4 SU and 17-6-1 ATS record since Mar.14. San Antonio is six-point favorites with total of 205.5 and is 8-3 ATS off a straight up and spread loss. This is a conflict they need to take control of throughout and are 10-3-1 UNDER at home vs. teams with a winning road record.

Phoenix has covered eight of last 11 contests as road underdogs and is 17-6 OVER away from Arizona after consecutive games as a home favorite.

NBA: Western Conference Playoff Odds

Much like a year ago, the Lakers broke early from the gate and put it on cruise control for most of the latter part of the season, securing the top seed rather easily. There were challengers along the way, as Denver had its best moments early, then came the Mavericks, who at one point ripped off a 13-game winning streak, then the Jazz got hot, and finally, the Blazers, Suns and Spurs seemed to save their best play for the stretch run. Throughout it all, the surprising Oklahoma City Thunder played consistent enough to qualify for the postseason for the first time in their new city. All that was just uttered makes the 2010 Western Conference Playoffs very intriguing, as it would seem that any team that gets hot at this point could pose a threat to the defending champs. However, it is the NBA though, and most often, the league’s best teams with the biggest stars prevail, and it seems that oddsmakers have put a heavy emphasis on that as they’ve built their futures prices out West. Let’s look closely at each team and see if they might have what it takes to unseat Kobe & Co. this spring.

DALLAS MAVERICKS Odds to Win NBA Title: +1200 Odds to Win Western Conference: +700

Reasons they can win: Whether it was due to opponents being unfamiliar with the new roster or simply good play, the Mavericks ripped off 13-straight wins after mid-season trades. This type of hot streak in the playoffs would go a LONG way, especially with a veteran loaded lineup.

Reasons they can't: Dallas has been awful at home in covering pointspreads, and while some may argue that this means little in winning or losing games, the margin for error decreases in the playoffs and close wins in the regular season often turn to losses in the postseason.

StatFox Steve’s projection: I see a 7-game won or lost series in the first round vs. San Antonio. No further though for this team, even as the #2.

DENVER NUGGETS Odds to Win NBA Title: +800 Odds to Win Western Conference: +500

Reasons they can win: There seems to be a rallying cry for George Karl going on with the Nuggets’ players, and last year’s run proved this group is capable of almost anything. With Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, Denver boasts two postseason playmakers.

Reasons they can't: At any given time, there seems to be a lot of internal issues going on with the Nuggets. Cohesion is key to any playoff run. Plus, at presstime, this team had the worst road record of any West playoff club.

StatFox Steve’s projection: I like the matchup vs. Utah in the first round and think the Nuggets have a good chance of advancing. However, second round exit in all likelihood.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS Odds to Win NBA Title: +150 Odds to Win Western Conference: -300

Reasons they can win: The Lakers can win because they did it a year ago and supposedly fortified their chances by adding Ron Artest to the mix. Any team with Kobe Bryant is capable of winning a title and the ability to clinch the West #1 seed early allowed L.A. to turn its focus to the playoffs early.

Reasons they can't: Something just seems amiss with the Lakers this year. Perhaps there is some internal dissension in the ranks. That wouldn’t come as a shock for a team that has Ron Artest. Last year’s effort, even in the regular season, seemed much more convincing.

StatFox Steve’s projection: I believe Phoenix is the only West team that can beat L.A. in a series. That upset is possible, otherwise, L.A. comes up short in the Finals.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER Odds to Win NBA Title: +3000 Odds to Win Western Conference: +1000

Reasons they can win: Kevin Durant. Any team with a scorer of Durant’s capability has a chance to win on a given night. The Thunder has also proven nearly as effective on the road as at home.

Reasons they can't: No team boasts less playoff experience than OKC. In a playoff bracket as loaded as the West’s for teams that have been there before, not knowing “how to win a series” could be the difference.

StatFox Steve’s projection: As much as I’d like to say the Thunder are capable of a first round upset, their seeding makes it extremely unlikely. Out in five or six games, first round.

PHOENIX SUNS Odds to Win NBA Title: +8000 Odds to Win Western Conference: +4000

Reasons they can win: If any team is peaking at the right time, it’s Phoenix. The most encouraging thing is that the Suns have been just as effective on the defensive end as the offensive end in their late season surge. Steve Nash is also a big reason this team has big hopes.

Reasons they can't: Might the Suns relapse to the play that saw them go 12-18 in December and January? Amare Stoudemire’s uncertain status at that time played a role, but is it a sign of how fragile this team’s psyche is?

StatFox Steve’s projection: It’s been awhile since any sustained playoff success in Phoenix, but this team looks capable of a long run. I make them my official darkhorse for a trip to the Finals.

PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS Odds to Win NBA Title: +8000 Odds to Win Western Conference: +2500

Reasons they can win: Portland plays a style perhaps more suited for the Eastern Conference but that difference might just be enough to give it a shot at some prolonged success this spring. No team in the West allows fewer points, nor is as efficient on offense. In most playoff games, there are fewer possessions than in the regular season.

Reasons they can't: Can Portland keep up with the likes of Phoenix and Denver if that is a first round matchup? Can the Blazers overcome the fact that they haven’t won a playoff series in 10 years?

StatFox Steve’s projection: The Brandon Roy knee injury is obviously going to have an effect on his play. The Blazers will be competitive but I think Phoenix takes them down.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS Odds to Win NBA Title: +3000 Odds to Win Western Conference: +2000

Reasons they can win: No other West team…I repeat NO ONE is lining up in hopes of a matchup with the Spurs, simply because of this franchise’s rich playoff history. One of their key players, Tony Parker, will have fresh legs too, having missed much of the late part of the season.

Reasons they can't: Road playoff wins have come too far and in between for the Spurs of late as they’ve won just one of their last 10. Considering their inability to win on the road with regularity this season, I don’t see that changing in these playoffs.

StatFox Steve’s projection: The Spurs might be the team that looks best on paper and in reputation than they do in real life. Age has caught up with the key cogs and they just don’t boast the same role players as in past years. Matchup vs. Dallas in winnable, beyond that, I don’t see it.

UTAH JAZZ Odds to Win NBA Title: +1500 Odds to Win Western Conference: +500

Reasons they can win: Utah boasts the West’s best margin between field goal offense and defense, meaning they are the most efficient team in the conference. The Jazz have the been on an extended run of success since January 9th too, going 32-11 as of presstime.

Reasons they can't: Utah’s inability to win consistently on the road, even during its second half surge, is a deep concern. Beyond that, the Jazz haven’t even sniffed a win in Los Angeles in long time, losing seven straight games by double-digits. The road to the Finals runs through Tinseltown in the West.

StatFox Steve’s projection: The seeding worked out to where the Jazz have quite possibly the toughest playoff road of any team in the NBA. With the Boozer injury throwing a wrench into things this week, I’m not so sure anymore that this team gets to the second round.