GREG GAMBLE’S 2008-09 HARDWOOD Picks: 56-42 ats…57%
NBA 39-29 - NCAA 11-11 - Teasers 6-2 - Church League 69-0
BTW...Did you miss my thoughts on A-Roid Monday?
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DENVER NUGGETS (+8) @ ORLANDO MAGIC
Just as in my decision to the ride the Nuggets like Billy Bob rode Halle in Monster’s Ball, why wouldn’t I do it again. While emerging as a legitimate powerhouse in the West, Friday Night’s 44-point embarrassment at NJ has perfectly set the table for a refocused squad closing-out the first half. Last night, they absolutely dominated the Heat (W 99-82) and will by psyched to prove they can sweep the state of the Florida. And for all the talk D-Howard is impossible for teams to handle, the new-n-improved Nene has the most apt physical tools to give him a battle and only played 24 minutes last night.
Speaking of match-ups, while I’m not saying Nene will outperform the freakish-beast, I believe the Brazilian has more of an opportunity to succeed than some of the Magic starters against Denver. The crafty leadership of Chauncey should have a field day against career back-up Anthony Johnson at the point. Melo will easily score on sudo-SFs Rashard Lewis & Hedu Turkoglu and will get plenty of trips to the charity stripe when the Mickael Pietrus switches on him from SG. Throw-in the better than advertised long-range abilities from Linas Kleiza & J.R. Smith to match with the Magic wings, and I fully expect a tight battle tonight…which means take the eight points and make a reservation at Sizzler…NUGGETS IN AN UPSET
SUCKRAMENTO KINGS @ HOUSTON ROCKETS (-12.5)
Like Paris in hotel with the cameras rolling, nobody in the Association sucks worse than Kings right now. And as far as this specific match-up, this thing lines-up perfectly for an absolute blow-out. With the Weed & Groupie Weekend on the horizon you think the Kings will be focused coming off another road blowout last night (L 118-110 @ Dallas)? Considering every veteran on Sucktown’s roster is involved in 20 different trade rumors, do you really think they’ll be focused on passing the rock and team-ball tonight? And for Houston, after the embarrassment in Milwaukee Monday, won’t they be dying to end the first half with a dominating performance at home?
Answer all those questions, and then check out their box score against the Bucks and you’ll realize Houston's starters are well-rested and the bench is playing better than ever. I’m not joking when I say this, but I fully expect the Rockets to be up by 20 at halftime and to pour it on even harder in the second. Especially with Yao humiliated with his production Monday and Brad Miller resting thru the All-Star Break, I have a feeling you’ll see the Chinaman dominate the young, defensive-challenged bigs for the Kings (Spencer Hawes & Ryan Thompson)…ROCKETS BY 25-35 POINTS
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (-6.5) @ TORONTO RAPTORS
Toronto has been awful with the Bosh in the line-up so how you think they’ll look against Timmy with Bargnani & O’Neal in his place? I know SA played last night, but it was an easy victory and Pop’s will be stressing the importance of heading into the All-Star Weekend with a nice swagger. Especially after the unorthodox, but smart decision to rest all three superstars the final game of a long stretch of games last week, the genius headmaster was conceding the contest in hopes of ensuring their final stretch before the break was flawlessly efficient.
Let alone the Timmy D advantage down-low, while Jose Calderon is a wizard with the rock, he’s gonna get worked ova like Jodie Foster in a dirty bar by Tony Longoria. Throw-in the most unbelievable stretch of long range shooting in Association history from Matt Bonner (last 7 games: 19-26 from three…73%!) and the season-long consistency from G Roger Mason (45-3pt%) to stretch the floor, and the Spurs have literally been able to pick-n-choose the spots to rest or utilize Manu’s unique abilities. I could go on, but I need to refill my Rum & Cream Soda…SPURS BY 10-16 POINTS
#3 NORTH CAROLINA HEELS (-2) @ #5 DUKE BLUE DEVILS
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#3 NORTH CAROLINA HEELS (-2) @ #5 DUKE BLUE DEVILS
Those sneaky beeatches in Sin City are absolutely beggin' the public to bet the Devils. Seriously, how often is a top-ranked national power an underdog when playing in one of the best home-court advantages in NCAA history? But unlike most, I’m not taking the bait and heading to the champagne room w/ an open credit card. I’m taking the team with a frontcourt that will absolutely destroy the soft interior for Duke. The combination of Psycho Senior T (22 ppg, 8 rpg, 52-fg%, 84-ft%), the rock-solid 6-8 Jr. Deon Thompson (11 ppg, 7 rpg), the quiet brilliance of Fr. 6-10 Ed Davis (7 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 bpg), and the athletic inside-out ability of SF Danny Green (14 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 bpg, 47-3pt%) will dominate the paint with ease at Cameron Indoor.
While 6-8 Kyle Singler (16 ppg, 8 rpg) is a special talent, he’s more of a slasher that can be overpowered and doesn’t have the luxury of frontcourt mate to take the pressure off. In addition, starting PF Lance Thomas has been extremely inconsistent (3.2 rpg) and 7-1 bust Brian Zoubek has averaged only two more rebounds than fouls per game, resulting in Mike Krzyzewski forced to use the undersized Sr. F David McClure in the paint (listed at 6-6, but closer to 6-4).
Because of Danny Green’s strength, quickness, and experience, I can’t see how Duke’s main scoring option of late, Gerald Henderson (15 ppg, 5 rpg, 51-fg%, 41-3pt%), will be able to take over tonight’s contest with his mid-range wizardry. As for tonight’s playmakers, while Sr. Greg Paulus has regained command of the point and improved the team's overall passion on the court, he should struggle mightily with the speed of Ty Lawson. At the off-guard spot, Jr. Jon Scheyer is having his worst shooting season as a Blue Devil (39-fg%, 38-3pt%), while Jr. Wayne Ellington has more athleticism and has been on an absolute tear of late (last 6 games: 21 ppg, 6 rpg, 51-3pt%).
In closing, while nothing compares to the advantage at Cameron Indoor, if anybody can handle the atmosphere, it’s the veteran Tar Heels…who have won there the last three years. As for the prediction, UNC crashes the boards early and opens up a sizable lead that gets the Dukies in foul trouble. After a motivational tirade from Coach K, the Blue Devils will hit a few threes to get the crowd rockin’, but in the end, the Tar Heels will pull-away as Hansbrough becomes the first kid since Timmy D at Wake to go undefeated in-front of the annoying dorks from Durham, NC…TAR HEELS BY 6-10 POINTS