Trail Blazers vs. Lakers NBA Preview

LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Portland Trail Blazers enter this contest with the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers with a couple of things in common. They are both missing key players and they both have been struggling as a result. Now both teams are trying to right the proverbial ships and get their seasons back on track before things get too bad, too fast.

 

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Friday, February 26, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Staples Center

 

Can The Trail Blazers Score Enough To Win?

The Trail Blazers have been a mess without Jusuf Nurkic and C.J. McCollum. Their defense, which was suspect enough to begin with, has been non-existent over the last few weeks. Yet Portland, has not folded, they have fought. Damian Lillard has led this team with his typical brand of leadership and defiance.

The Trail Blazers have not quit on Head Coach Terry Stotts, and I do not expect them to be a push over on Friday night in Los Angeles. The formula for Portland to win is quite simple. They have to have their shots falling, because they cannot stop their opponents, they must outscore them.

And yet, the Trail Blazers have fallen on hard times recently. They have dropped three in a row to the Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets. They were blown out by the Suns, but otherwise have played close in the other two losses. They are a tough out no matter who is on the floor, as long as Lillard is one of the players suiting up in a Portland uniform.

 

Can Dennis Schroder Be A Spark Plug For The Lakers?

The Lakers are missing Anthony Davis to be sure. That statement may well be a candidate for the understatement of 2021 thus far. They have lost their last four games and have had incredible trouble scoring the basketball. Prior to these recent games, the Oklahoma City Thunder took them to overtime twice consecutively. LeBron James is doing typical LeBron things, but at age 36 he is also playing a massive amount of minutes.

The Anthony Davis injury has been bad enough, but the recent COVID-19 sidelining of Dennis Schroder has been incredibly harmful to this Lakers team. It has impacted their defense, their depth and of course their scoring ability. The Lakers are not a team overloaded with shooting. We’ve seen that over the last two seasons. Shooting can go cold for Los Angeles and it has indeed gone cold over the last few games.

They have lost four in a row and need Schroder back sooner than later. He has officially been listed as probable for this game. That is a big boost for the Lakers’ chances against the Trail Blazers on Friday night.

 

Betting Analysis

This is a tricky game to handicap because both teams are hungry and maybe desperate for a win. The Lakers got destroyed by the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night and are now closer to the playoff bubble than the number one seed in the Western Conference. There are problems in Lakerland. And Portland is needing to get things right as well.

The Trail Blazers have fought valiantly in the absence of their second and third best players. Each game is key. The Lakers do not have great scoring ability with Anthony Davis out and that is what Portland needs to win. Because their defense is so porous they need to take advantage of these opportunities. This game seems to benefit Portland. And yet…the Lakers are still the Lakers. LeBron is still LeBron.

The return of Dennis Schroder is key here and it seems he will play. Schroder will aid in the Lakers defense and take some of the load off of LeBron James. I will back the defending champs to come out angry and take care of business as they get a bit healthier.

NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -5.5 (-110) at BetMGM

 

Bulls vs. 76ers NBA Preview

Wendell Carter Jr. Chicago Bulls

Wendell Carter Jr. #34 of the Chicago Bulls passes the ball. Photo by JONATHAN DANIEL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Friday, February 19, 2021 – 07:30 PM EST at Wells Fargo Center

 

The Chicago Bulls enter this contest with the Philadelphia 76ers as the hotter team at the moment. Will the Bulls hot shooting continue, or will the Sixers get some home cooking to get back on the right side of things as we head towards the All-Star break in the NBA season?

 

Can Philadelphia Play Consistent Defense?

The Sixers are a tricky bunch to figure out at the moment. They are clearly a very good, very talented team. The addition of Doc Rivers as their Head Coach has been a good one, and has them playing with more consistency than in years past. However, there are still those issues that pop up from time to time.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are missing games due to nagging injuries or rest. And the defensive lapses are still there. We saw that on this most recent road trip out west. Philly lost outright to the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers. In those games they surrendered between 118 and 134 points. That is simply too many points to win consistently in the NBA. Even upon their return home on Wednesday evening against the Houston Rockets, they gave up 113 points to a short-handed Rockets team.

The Sixers can score, we know that, especially when their full squad is on the floor. However, if they truly have Championship aspirations, the defense has to become more consistent. The effort and pressure has to be there night in and night out. I can’t believe I’m writing these words, but can you imagine what this team would look like if they played with the defensive intensity of the New York Knicks?

The Sixers are an interesting team when it comes to sports betting. According to Oddstrader, they are the sixth choice currently to win the 2021 NBA championship.

 

Can The Bulls Continue To Be a Cover Machine?

The Chicago Bulls are a very young team still in a rebuild, but they are not a boring team. They are 12-15 on the season, but the Baby Bulls are 15-11-1 ATS this year. The Bulls not only have been covering games, but lately, they’ve been getting better at winning them as well. To that end, they are 3-2 in their last five and 5-5 in the last ten games.

The Bulls are a fun team to watch because they have a bunch of guys who can shoot the ball particularly well. Chicago is not a team that’s ever really beyond the reach of clawing back into a game, because of that shooting. Additionally, the Bulls are a team that plays hard. They’re young, still trying to establish themselves and lack a true superstar, so everyone on this team is trying to show that they belong, that they can be a legitimate player in the league for years to come.

They are an interesting mix of youth, talent and hunger. It makes them a fun to watch and a more fun team to wager on this season. Head Coach Billy Donovan has done a great job, similar to the one he did last season in Oklahoma City, except he doesn’t have the benefit of Chris Paul in Chicago this year.

Betting Analysis:

I’m looking forward to this game, and I think it provides us with an excellent betting opportunity. The Sixers are a much better home team than road team. They are 12-2 SU this season in Philly, while the Bulls are 7-6 as visitors. However, the Chicago Bulls are 10-3 ATS on the road, while Philly is only 9-5 ATS at home. This number is too big for a Bulls team that can get hot with so many different shooters. With a number like this on the table I want the Bulls.

NBA Pick: Chicago Bulls +9 (-110) at BetMGM

 

Grizzlies vs. Lakers NBA Preview

Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies

Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

 

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Friday, February 12, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Staples Center  

The Lakers are at home in this matchup against the defensive minded Grizzlies. L.A. attempts to continue their march to a second straight NBA title and the Grizzlies try to move toward a playoff berth in the Western Conference.

 

Which Grizzlies Team Will Show Up?

The Grizzlies are a conundrum of a team. They have had injury and COVID-19 issues to deal with to be sure. They had a COVID delay and came out of it white hot. Then they lost four in a row. Most recently they have a win over the Charlotte Hornets.

The one thing about this Memphis team that does not deviate is their defensive effort. They are excellent on the defensive end. They play hard. That shows every single night. Memphis doesn’t have a ton of scoring punch, but Ja Morant can be a one man show when needed.

 

Will The Lakers Stop Messing Around With Lower Level Teams?

The Lakers are the defending NBA champions. They are excellent this year as well. They are most likely the best team in the NBA. However there is a but coming. They have messed around with lower tier teams recently. They lost outright to Detroit. They let Oklahoma City take them to overtime not once, but twice on their home floor. They have been prone to lapses.

These lapses have coincided with the absence of Anthony Davis. With recent reports that Davis will take it easy with his achilles issue, there is no good reason to expect him to play in this game. That leaves the burden on 36 year old LeBron James.

LeBron is unreal. He is inhuman. He is spectacular. But is he enough? It took a singlehanded effort from him to defeat the Thunder on Wednesday. At some point he needs a rest. At some point he can’t carry a second tier Lakers team without Anthony Davis to wins over and over.

 

Betting Analysis

This should be a very good game for a number of reasons. The Grizzlies are a tough team defensively. They play very hard. This won’t change against the defending champions. The Lakers are going to get everyone’s best shot this season and for the foreseeable future.

Without Anthony Davis in the lineup the Lakers are simply not the same team. They are a team led by guys like Alex Caruso, Dennis Schroeder, Montrezl Harrell and Wes Matthews. Those players may be decent, even good players, but they are not the same championship level team that we saw last year and earlier this season.

Anthony Davis makes the Lakers a different team. More dynamic and much more difficult to defend. LeBron James’ greatness is unquestioned and beyond surpass. But even his greatness has its limitations. LeBron can do only so much, so often. The Thunder nearly stole two games from the Lakers and they had only eight players for both games.

Memphis will have more artillery to fire at Los Angeles. I think the Grizzlies defensive intensity, coupled by their recent rough patch will provide them with enough to get the job done against the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. I’ll take the points with the visitors.

NBA Pick: Memphis Grizzlies +7.5 (-110) at BetMGM

 

 

 

If The Buccaneers Lose On Sunday, Is Tom Brady Still The Greatest Quarterback of All Time?

NFC Championship - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers

 

I want to start this by answering the question succinctly and in one word. The answer to the question posed in the title of this article is simple, the answer is no. If the Buccaneers lose on Sunday, Tom Brady cannot be considered the greatest quarterback of all time. The reason for that is equally as simple. He’s not the greatest quarterback of all time, because he’s more than that. He’s already, before one second ticks off the clock of Super Bowl LV, the greatest athlete of all time. Period.

The level of accomplishment achieved by Tom Brady is simply unparalleled in American sports. When he first entered a game against in the Jets in 2001 in relief of an injured Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady was best known as a guy who couldn’t hold off Drew Henson at Michigan. All he did after that point was lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl title over the St. Louis Rams and “The Greatest Show on Turf”.

From that point Tom Brady proceeded to win five more Super Bowls. Think about that for a second. The man has already won six Super Bowls. Now, for a long period of time, there was a debate amongst some about whether Tom Brady or Bill Belichick was more responsible for those championships. Some people even went as far as to say that Brady was a “system quartberack”.

But then this year happens. Brady leaves and goes to Tampa Bay. The team with the lowest winning percentage in all of North American team sports. Not only does he go there, but then a pandemic breaks out. He doesn’t get mini-camps. He barely gets a training camp. There is no pre-season. So with all that happening, he comes into a new team, with new players, and new coaches, and wins double digit games and goes back to the playoffs.

For most that would be a good season. Not for Tom Brady. No, he goes on the road against Washington and gets a win in Wild Card weekend, which is a place he is not used to appearing. Then all he does is defeat Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers to advance to his tenth Super Bowl.

All of these accomplishments are incredible. There can be no argument about that. However, the most impressive thing about Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.is his single-minded focus and determination to win. Most people, let alone athletes, when they achieve high levels of success, start to diversify their interests. They want to spend more time with family and friends. They want to travel. They develop philanthropic interests. They get mildly distracted by the fruits of their success. Not Brady. The man lives in a 22,000 square foot house and still had his family leave for twelve days leading up to this Super Bowl because he is simply not willing to risk a distraction. It is that single-mindedness that makes Tom Brady who he is.

And who he is, is the greatest athlete in American history. That will not change with a win or loss on Sunday. This season is already one of his greatest accomplishments based on all the obstacles that had to be overcome just to reach this point. I think Brady will win, because that is what he does better than anyone else in sports. His mental toughness is in the category of Michael Jordan and really, nobody else. But even Jordan didn’t leave Chicago and go win elsewhere. He only won with Phil Jackson. This is Brady’s chance to win without Belichick and I think he relishes every second of it.

This Super Bowl could be a cherry on top of an outstanding career, but the reality is that the sundae has already been made and it is incredible. Win or lose, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, the greatest football player of all time, and the greatest athlete of all time. Period.

If The Buccaneers Lose On Sunday, Is Tom Brady Still The Greatest Quarterback of All Time?

Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.   Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

 

I want to start this by answering the question succinctly and in one word. The answer to the question posed in the title of this article is simple, the answer is no. If the Buccaneers lose on Sunday, Tom Brady cannot be considered the greatest quarterback of all time. The reason for that is equally as simple. He’s not the greatest quarterback of all time, because he’s more than that. He’s already, before one second ticks off the clock of Super Bowl LV, the greatest athlete of all time. Period.

The level of accomplishment achieved by Tom Brady is simply unparalleled in American sports. When he first entered a game against the Jets in 2001 in relief of an injured Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady was best known as a guy who couldn’t hold off Drew Henson at Michigan. All he did after that point was lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl title over the St. Louis Rams and “The Greatest Show on Turf”.

From that point on, Tom Brady proceeded to win five more Super Bowls. Think about that for a second. The man has already won six Super Bowls. Now, for a long period of time, there was a debate amongst some about whether Tom Brady or Bill Belichick was more responsible for those championships. Some people even went as far as to say that Brady was a “system quartberack”.

But then this year happens. Brady leaves and goes to Tampa Bay. The team with the lowest winning percentage in all of North American team sports. Not only does he go there, but then a pandemic breaks out. He doesn’t get mini-camps. He barely gets a training camp. There is no pre-season. So with all that happening, he comes into a new team, with new players, and new coaches, and wins double digit games and goes back to the playoffs.

For most that would be a good season. Not for Tom Brady. No, he goes on the road against Washington and gets a win in Wild Card weekend, which is a place he is not used to appearing. Then all he does is defeat Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers to advance to his tenth Super Bowl.

All of these accomplishments are incredible. There can be no argument about that. However, the most impressive thing about Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.is his single minded focus and determination to win. Most people, let alone athletes, when they achieve high levels of success, start to diversify their interests. They want to spend more time with family and friends. They want to travel. They develop philanthropic interests. They get mildly distracted by the fruits of their success. Not Brady. The man lives in a 22,000 square foot house and still had his family leave for twelve days leading up to this Super Bowl because he is simply not willing to risk a distraction. It is that single-mindedness that makes Tom Brady who he is.

And who he is, is the greatest athlete in American history. That will not change with a win or loss on Sunday. This season is already one of his greatest accomplishments based on all the obstacles that had to be overcome just to reach this point. I think Brady will win, because that is what he does better than anyone else in sports. His mental toughness is in the category of Michael Jordan and really, nobody else. But even Jordan didn’t leave Chicago and go win elsewhere. He only won with Phil Jackson. This is Brady’s chance to win without Belichick and I think he relishes every second of it.

This Super Bowl could be a cherry on top of an outstanding career, but the reality is that the sundae has already been made and it is incredible. Win or lose, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, the greatest football player of all time, and the greatest athlete of all time. Period.