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Sacrifice Turns Into Strength For Bosh

He placed that request with the players and also his coaching staff after the Heat fell in The Finals to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. That forced guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to do some self-examination and find a weakness and turn it into a strength or find something they hadnt done much of and turn into a staple.

For James, it was about asserting himself and becoming the leader of this crew. For Wade, it was about learning how to defer to another superstar (or two, when needed), something foreign to his system as the lone superstar here before James and Bosh showed up. And for Bosh, it became about expanding his game and becoming the positionless big man Spoelstra needed for this team to play to its strengths.

Perhaps no ones sacrifice has been greater than Boshs. Hes had to abandon the conventional low-post construct most NBA big men operate in and learn how to play center while operating from the 3-point line in, a change that has come gradually over the past two seasons. Hes not a 3-point specialist by any stretch as he made just 21 this season and shot just 28 percent. But hes capable of being a threat from that distance if the Heat need him to be. He shot 54 percent from deep during the Heats championship run last season.

Thats where he becomes positionless, Spoelstra said. Is he a [four] or a [five]. As long hes doing the things that help us be versatile, thats what makes him so special and unique to us, his versatility. And if you dont have a player such as Chris, with his versatility

Just ask the Milwaukee Bucks, who have to figure out a way to deal with three of the leagues most versatile players tonight in Game 2 of their first round playoff series.

They couldnt handle any of them in Game 1. But Bosh was a particularly tough matchup because he stretched the floor early with two 3-pointers, drawing Bucks rim protector Larry Sanders away from his comfort zone and opening up the floor for James and Wade to operate.

Bosh might not make another 3-pointer in Game 2 tonight or the entire series, for that matter. And thats fine with Spoelstra, who insists that the fact that Bosh has polished that part of his game and can use it is far more important than worrying about whether he actually utilizes that skill.

Everybody wants to put him in a box, Spoelstra said. Everybody wanted to make him a low-post, back-in guy to give us a post/paint presence. He can do that. But if you only have him do that, you can limit him. He does so many other things. And the other things he has done for us allows us to play our game. But ironically, those are often the things he will be criticized for. But without him, sometimes its tough to do what we do.

Bosh is well aware of the critics and their often savage reviews of his game. In Toronto, he was a stretch four who had to serve as his teams only true post presence and did so to the tune of 24 points and 11 rebounds in his final season with the Raptors. But Bosh has had to come to grips with the fact that his game is greater when he expands it beyond the conventional.

Its just knowing that its not necessarily what this team needs me to do, Bosh said. I know its unorthodox for people to really see what type of player I am and what they needed me to be here. You have to really be open-minded. You see a big and they want to put you in a box. A guy might outweigh you by 50 or 60 pounds and you still have to back him down and be effective. If the team doesnt need me to do that Im not going to waste my time trying to bang dudes and shoot turnaround jumpers and hook shots all night. Its going to be there sometimes, but Im just going to be all over the court. And because of that I think Ive become a much better player.

Bosh knows he could have stuck around in Toronto or even gone somewhere else and put up the sort of numbers he did in his Raptors days. He could be the centerpiece of a team and probably play exclusively in whatever comfort zone he wanted to. Hes also certain that he wouldnt be the player he has become since coming here.

To truly be a really good player, the things you do well, you have to do them [well] in the playoffs during crunch time situations, when its the toughest, he said. Ive noticed since Ive been here thats how you become a really good player, a great player. Ive gained a lot of respect for guys who have done that over and over in the past, guys who have not necessarily been in the superstar role. Being in the mainstream you always think it was just Shaq and Kobe [Bryant]or [Michael] Jordan and [Scottie] Pippen. But those other guys had to perform and play well, too. It takes a team to win a championship, and just playing on that elite, high level is really amazing.

And if that means Bosh has to be reclassified again, so be it.

Ill be whatever the team needs, he said and then smiled. Stretch five, stretch four, back to the basket, face up, catch and go. Im working to do it all.

The Heats championship plans this season depend on exactly that.

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New York Knicks still needs some more firepower

The New York Knicks have earned respect this season with the arrival and stellar play of Amar’e Stoudemire, but former Knicks superstar John Starks believes that the team needs to add a few more pieces in order to contend for an NBA title.

Starks, who have been a constant follower of the Knicks since he retired, said that the sky is the limit for the team, but the Knicks would be more formidable if they would be able to add two or more solid players in their fold.

“We definitely need a couple more players,” Starks said. “I know there's been talk about certain players coming here and Donnie Walsh understands what it takes in order to put together a championship squad. He did it when he was in Indiana and he's doing a masterful job here in New York.”

Starks, who have been a crowd favorite during his eight seasons with the Knicks from 1990 to 1998, remains confident that Walsh is the right man for the job and he believes that the veteran general manager would be able to build a championship contender like what he did when he was still with the Indiana Pacers. Walsh had a successful stint with the Pacers, putting together a team that reached the 2000 NBA Finals, although they vowed to the Shaquille O’Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers.

“You always have to continue to improve. You can't just sit still in this league and hope for the best,” Starks said. “And what Donnie is trying to do is he's trying to put together that team can definitely get us back to the Finals.”

The Knicks have the ability to add another marquee player in their fold because they are expected to be a huge player when the trade deadline approaches. New York was reportedly Carmelo Anthony’s preferred destination.

The Denver Nuggets forward has been involved in a lot of trade rumors since the off-season, and the Knicks are one of the most aggressive suitors for the superstar forward. The Knicks are willing to unload players other than Stoudemire plus first-round draft picks on order to acquire Anthony.

Although Starks did not directly talked about acquiring Carmelo Anthony, Starks said that acquiring an elite player, while giving up a hefty package of players would be a good gamble depending on the quality of player the Knicks would acquire.

“It's happened before in the past and it worked out,” Starks said. “Depending on what player you're going after and what you have to give up. That's the business that's we're in. You sometimes have to give up a little bit more to get the type of player that you want.”

Starks, who was a member of the Knicks that reached the 1993-94 NBA Finals, also expressed excitement about the renewed hope and energy of the Knicks fans. Starks said that the recent decent showing from the Knicks have brought Madison Square Garden to its status of being the best basketball arena in the World.

“You can see the intensity, the energy that's in the building again and it's just exciting to see the city lit up right now,” Starks said. “Walking down the street yesterday and you can hear the rhetoric about the Knicks now, and you haven't heard that in some years.”

After being a regular cellar-dweller in past few years, the Knicks are on pace to return to the playoffs this season and adding another marquee player like Carmelo Anthony would make them an instant title-contender this season. The Knicks are +900 to win the Eastern Conference championship according to the Basketball Odds at the home of NBA betting.

NBA: Celtics vs Lakers Betting Preview

In the history of the NBA, two teams stand above the rest, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. These two franchises have combined to win 32 NBA titles. Boston has beaten the Lakers nine of 11 meetings in the NBA Finals which substantiates the point for many people of substance over style. The teams meet again in the 2010 NBA Finals, starting on Thursday night. Oddsmakers at have installed Los Angeles, who has the home court advantage, as a -180 series favorite.
The Lakers like to make the argument that in spite of having a couple less titles than the Celtics, theirs is the better franchise having a bit of Jack Nicklaus in them, finishing runner-up 16 times.
What makes this appointment television is history. For many of the players let alone those tuned in to watch, this matchup is about Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Jerry West. What made this important is they met one another over a short period of time. Boston defeated the Lakers seven times from 1959 to 1969 and they met three times in four years from 1984 to 1987.
That is what makes this renewal even better than two June’s ago. The last time basketball fans had a 21-year break between heated encounters, this time most of the combatants are the same that met two years prior. What is different this time compared to 2008 when the Celtics hung their first NBA championship banner since 1986?
Trust and Age
Though Ray Allen was having brutal postseason two years ago, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in particular were at the top of their respective games. Each was able to dominate for lengthy periods of any contest and did in those six games.
Today, neither KG nor Pierce has that same ability; both can make a series of outstanding plays to help Boston, just in a shorter time span. The Celtics are helped by Allen being a much stronger contributor now, but the driving force of this Doc Rivers club is Rajon Rondo. The former Kentucky product has exploded onto the scene in the playoffs and been the catalyst behind the Celtics success. The C’s now feed off what Rondo delivers.
Two years ago, Kobe did not trust his teammates. He demanded total effort in the biggest games and they did not deliver to his liking. Last year’s title drive was all about finishing the deal and becoming champions again and though Bryant has his doubts from time to time about the 2010 edition of the Lake Show, he knows what to expect from Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and to a lesser degree Lamar Odom and Ron Artest.
It’s all about the matchups
How does Boston limit Kobe’s effectiveness? Doc Rivers coach’s by feel more than X’s and O’s during games. Rivers will go after Bryant with Baskin-Robbins approach, using a variety of methods. Guard Kobe tight to force him to drive into lane where the Celtics big men can create issues. Let him shoot from the outside to prevent him from getting fouled too often and adding up points. They will double Kobe on the wings or single him up in the middle of the floor and go with what works best.
Derek Fisher took it as personal mission to stay with Steve Nash in West finals, but he has nowhere near enough foot speed to stay with Rondo. That means Bryant will see Rondo aplenty and if Boston wants to slow the pace, L.A. will be cool with that process, since Bryant can use his size and wing span to stay in front of Rondo. Expect coach Rivers to dictate to Rondo to run at every opportunity to maximize his effectiveness.
Pierce and Artest is a potential swing matchup in the series. Pierce’s jab step jumper is more deadly when he sets up defender by driving to the bucket. If he can make Artest indecisive about his intentions, he could frustrate Ron-Ron into drawing silly fouls and taking him mentally out of the game.
Artest has to knock down enough shots to keep Pierce honest on defense and prevent him from clogging driving lanes. Artest’s job on the other end of the floor is to limit Pierce’s scoring ability and work him so that his legs don’t give him the leverage he needs late in the game to make jumpers.
In the frontcourt, Boston will try and manhandle the Lakers bigs with their imposing strength using Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace to roughhouse. Los Angeles should be accustomed to these tactics, expect Phil Jackson to try and manufacture matchups playing to the strengths of Gasol, Odom and Andrew Bynum in the triangle offense.
Coaching counts
In 2008, the Rivers vs. Jackson coaching matchup was thought to be akin to choosing between Snookie of “Jersey Shore” and Megan Fox. Rivers it turns out is the right coach for Boston, continually pushing his club to do better thru effort and precision and working game plans with mastermind assistant Tom Thibodeau.
Jackson was almost passive when his club lost to the Celtics in the finals two seasons ago, but has been much more involved the last two years, not sitting idly by wanting players to learn from adversity. He’s been more aggressive in substitution patterns and back to trying different bench players in various situations to find the spark when needed.
ATS nuts and bolts
Both teams were unreliable home teams wagers with the Lakers 42-7 and 21-27-2 ATS record and the Celtics 31-19 and 19-30-1 ATS. Given their ability and skill, each was a factor as visitors with Boston 31-18 (26-22-1 ATS) and L.A. 27-22 (22-26-1 ATS).
In the last three years the Celtics “Big Three” is 7-5 and 9-2 ATS against Los Angeles. The road team has won five games outright of the previous 13 meetings, however just one was in the finals in 2008.
You will read the home court is not a significant factor because of how the visitors have played lately, but if you are making series wager, the teams with home court advantage has won eight of last ten.
What happens?
Only once in the previous 25 years has seed other than No. 1-3 won the NBA championship and Boston was a four seed coming into the postseason. Eddie House and Leon Powe were significant players for the Celtics in the last finals meeting, both play elsewhere today.
Gasol and Bryant together are better players than the previous finals confrontation and the Lakers are 44-0 in any series with Jackson as coach if they win Game 1.
This will be rugged, physical series, with the trophy staying in L.A.
Pick- L.A. Lakers (-180) in seven over Boston (+150)

San Antonio Spurs vs Dallas Mavericks first round NBA Playoffs

Well it is that time of the season again and with the playoff time that has just about kicked off in the “Western Conference”, it’s important that you stay updated with your favorite players and the happenings around the league as betting on basketball take one very important thing, knowledge.

If you have been loyal to the game you would then know that every year the Mavericks always play a full 48 minutes of hard fought basketball and in turn award their fans with a punched out opponent. So will this be any different this year, NBA odds are unsure. Taking into consideration the Western Conference is filled with a range of playoff teams each with 50+ wins, it is seen that the Mavericks went gone over the hill to do an improvement of their abilities; this has been noticed with the team being redone and upgraded. Howard and Gooden have been traded away for Caron Butler and Brandon Haywood.

There have been more points averaged than what Josh Howard averaged with the fantabulous entry of Butler, while it has been noticed that Haywood has contributed to becoming the motivating factor on defensive gaming techniques for the spirit of the team, so lets take the big-man who is the younger one of the lot and just averaging under Gooden’s point totals, nevertheless scored more rebounds than him, plays better at blocks and the critics are of the opinion that involving him was a good move which will now only bring on success and fortune to the game and the team members at large for the team of Dallas in the coming years.

Jason Kidd is at the starting line and is with the league now for a very long time; on the other hand we have off the bench names like Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, and Erick Dampler and Dirk Nowitzki. However for Mavericks would be Tim Thomas, has a reputation of 9 seasons in which he has been associated with seven teams. He is known for his lazy attitude which led him out of the team. It was in the beginning of 2010 whilst Thomas was not regularly heard or seen of and no where on the Mavericks roster was he to be seen and rumors went abuzz of a clash between him and the Mavs that led to cut ties with him. Well baseless as it was Thomas was actually quiet and not as the media said making a ruckus in their locker room, nor was there a clash between him and the team. The young player was away to attend to his ailing wife and to quote Thomas who clearly stated that he was out and away taking care of his better half and hence had to sacrifice many a games with the team. Now that is one dude I would love to meet for sure, someone who stands up against the tide and knows his head from his shoulders and yet swims the tardiest of waters to be a successful survivor at the end of it all. Nevertheless irrespective of whether Thomas is in the team or not , San Antonio Spurs have to be extremely cautious when it comes to playing with the Mavericks since they probably will be one hell of a team to defeat , namely with the passion and aggression each of the Maverick’s have with respect to winning the game.

Now it is important to the San Antonio Spurs and L.A. Lakers to make and have a combination and collaboration to win 7 of NBA Championships from a total of 10 if they aim at keeping the game spirit on track, which by all means is not an impossible feat for the two. The Spurs just as in the case of the Mavericks, are known for the talented scouts it owns and hence are a tough to tackle with the playoff around the corner.

Manu Ginobilli, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker are well known players on whichever team in basketball much more than the likes of a Kobe, Gasol or Melo and Billups. The only comparison that I can make here is Garnett, Pierce and Allen. This is going to be a war of a series and a great one to place your NBA bet on at

NBA: Boston at Milwaukee (8:00 PM ET, FSN)

After spending a month taking advantage of a schedule that included some of the league’s worst teams, the Milwaukee Bucks are one game into a stretch that sends three of the NBA’s best to the Bradley Center. They already turned back the LeBron-less Cavaliers on Saturday night. Up on Tuesday are the Boston Celtics, and Bucks are a 1-point home favorite according to

A breakout performance from the struggling Brandon Jennings helped the Bucks top the team with the league’s best record, and they’ll look for a 10th win in 11 games Tuesday night as they try to snap the Boston Celtics’ four-game winning streak.

Milwaukee (33-29, 40-21-1 ATS) was three games out of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot as of Jan. 26, but it has gone 15-4 and even more amazing 15-3-1 ATS since then to jump into fifth place. Of the Bucks’ first 14 victories in that stretch, 13 came against the bottom nine teams in the East. Only Miami, which Milwaukee beat three times, currently owns a winning record.

Visits from Cleveland, Boston (40-21, 26-34-1 ATS) and Utah in a seven-day stretch should give the Bucks a bigger challenge, but questions remained even after their first test. Jennings scored 25 points in a 92-85 victory Saturday over the league-best Cavaliers, who gave LeBron James a night off to rest his sore ankle.

“There’ll be people saying it was a great game and there’ll be other people saying well, LeBron didn’t play, if he would have played, they would have won,” said Andrew Bogut, who had 15 points and nine rebounds. “It’s a lose-lose situation for us.” The Bucks are 18-4 ATS after playing a game as a home favorite this season.

Milwaukee can hope Jennings’ effort is the precursor of a personal turnaround. The rookie point guard had averaged 9.9 points and shot 29.7 percent since Feb. 1 before sparking the victory over Cleveland. Just three days earlier, after shooting 2 for 12 in a win over Washington, Jennings said he wasn’t even sure if wanted to continue taking shots.

That public display of frustration didn’t please coach Scott Skiles. “Right now, I’m playing for something bigger,” Jennings said after hitting five 3-pointers against the Cavaliers. “Main thing is get to playoffs, having the city start believing in us and keep going on from there.” Milwaukee hasn’t lost a game against the spread since Feb. 17 to Houston, accumulating 9-0-1 ATS mark.

If Milwaukee ends up in the postseason for the first time since 2006, it might find itself facing the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics in the first round. Boston is 4-0 (3-1 ATS) in March after going 9-11 from Jan. 14-Feb. 27, but much like during the Bucks’ winning stretch, the competition has hardly been fierce.

The Celtics’ streak has been built against the teams currently occupying then 9th-12th spots in the East, and they had to battle back to beat Washington at home on Sunday night. Boston trailed 79-66 with 6:11 remaining before responding with a 20-4 closing run to secure an 86-83 win. Ray Allen had eight of his 25 points in the decisive stretch.

“We’ve lost so many of these where we played poorly and lost,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “It was nice to play poorly and win. I just wish we could have played the first 40 minutes, like we played the last eight.” Boston is 24-12 ATS after a win by six points or less over the last two seasons.

Boston lost its latest visit to Milwaukee last March 15 as Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo combined to shoot 8 of 36. That was the Celtics’ only loss in the series’ last eight games (3-5 ATS). Kevin Garnett - who didn’t make a field goal Sunday for the first time in more than 14 years - had 25 points and nine rebounds in a 98-89 win at TD Garden on Dec. 8. Bogut had 25 points and 14 rebounds in the loss while committing a season-high seven turnovers. That was one of only three Milwaukee losses in 17 games in which Bogut has scored 20 points or more. has the Bucks as a one-point home favorite with total of 188 and they are 11-3 ATS after successfully covering the spread in four or more consecutive games. Normally, Milwaukee and the word defense are not used in the same sentence, except for negative connotation. However, the Bucks are 10-2 UNDER when the total is between 180 and 189.5 points, winning by seven points per game this season. Boston definitely prefers to play at their own pace, with pale 2-12 ATS record versus teams averaging 83 or more shots a game since the beginning of the season and are 25-12 UNDER in road encounters when playing against a club with a winning record.

This Eastern Conference matchup is available in both local TV markets at 8:00 Eastern and Milwaukee is 14-5 ATS when the line is +3 to -3 this campaign.

StatFox Power Line – Milwaukee by 7 has all the latest NBA odds, stats, trends and news you need for winning your basketball wagers.

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