Not knowing injury list can hurt

Mar 21, 2005 11:26 PM

Injuries are a part of all sports. For serious sports bettors, it’s essential to keep a close eye on basketball injuries.

That’s especially true this time of the year, with college basketball tournaments in full swing and NBA teams fighting for division titles and postseason positioning. Key basketball players, both college and pro, can be highly significant in how a team performs. This was evident last week when star center Tim Duncan missed two games with an injury.

It’s essential to study injury logs and keep track of who’s playing and hurting when analyzing matchups. Some teams are deep and play good defense, which can help them survive injuries better. Other teams can fall apart, both straight up and against the number.

Make sure you check injury reports daily and. just as important, know how to utilize the information properly.

SAN ANTONIO: The Spurs were on a five-game win streak with Duncan in the lineup. As soon as he went out, San Antonio went 0-2 SU. The moment he returned, the Spurs won by double digits and covered the number easily in a 112-89 rout of New Orleans.

Since there are so few players in basketball, as compared to football, the loss of any member of the starting five means a 20 percent change in the lineup. This can affect team chemistry, which takes weeks and months to develop. Say a coach is counting on a role player to play defense and pull down nine rebounds a game. If that player is out, the coach has to find someone else to plug in.

Depending on a team’s bench strength isn’t always easy to do. One of those losses the Spurs suffered without Duncan was at home to Denver, which was rare, indeed: That pushed San Antonio to 29-3 SU, 18-13 ATS at home.

INDIANA: It’s been a turbulent, roster-shifting season for the Pacers. Indiana lost Ron Artest very early after the famous brawl in Detroit. The Pacers have also been ravaged by injuries, including Jamaal Tinsley, Jermaine O’Neal and Jonathon Bender. Notice that Indiana is 8-16 ATS as a favorite.

MEMPHIS: This is one team that hasn’t slipped due to some serious injuries. The Grizzlies have played much of the last month without Pao Gasol (foot), Jason Williams (ankle), Bonzi Wells (back) and Stromile Swift (ankle). Losing that much talent would cripple many teams, but the Grizzlies have still been able to play well. This is a testimony to the amount of depth General Manager Jerry West has been able to accrue, and the tough defense first-year head coach Mike Fratello has brought in.

Memphis is allowing just 44 percent shooting defensively and stands third overall, yielding 90 points per game. "Totals" players should note that the Grizzlies started 41-22 "under," including 22-9 at home.

PORTLAND: The Trailblazers have been ravaged by the injury bug the second half of the season. Nick Van Exel (knee), Darius Miles, Derek Anderson (back), Ruben Patterson (knee) and Zack Randolph all are out or have missed significant time over the last month. Young star Randolph is expected to undergo knee surgery and miss the rest of the season. Portland finished up a recent stretch 3-10 SU and 1-12 ATS. They were a favorite three times during that run and lost all three.

GOLDEN ST: The Warriors are a young club that suffered a slew of injuries early in the season, but are getting healthy down the stretch. The team went on a terrible losing spree when star guard Jason Richardson went out, but has been playing much more competitive since he returned. In addition, leading rebounder Troy Murphy but is also back.

Combined with newcomer Baron Davis, when healthy, this is a solid young offensive team. Notice that the Warriors recently went 6-6 SU, 9-3 ATS over a 12-game stretch, winning as a road underdog at Minnesota (+6½), Washington (+6) and Philadelphia (+4½). They also covered twice in close games against the defending champion Pistons during that run.