Check out those IR’s!

Mar 21, 2006 4:55 AM

Key basketball players, both in college and pro, can often be highly significant in how a team performs.

This was evident last week when Philadelphia’s star guard Allen Iverson missed several games with an injury, and the 76ers stumbled on a 1-4 SU/ATS run.

Since there are so few players in basketball compared to football, the loss of any one player from the starting five means a 20 percent change in the lineup.

When Iverson was hurt, the 76ers offense scored less than 97 points four times as the ”˜under’ posted a 4-1 mark against the posted total during that span.

It’s been another turbulent, roster-shifting season for the Pacers. Indiana went long stretches without Ron Artest, Jamaal Tinsley, Austin Croshere and Jermaine O’Neal, before finally trading Artest.

Hats off to coach Rick Carlisle for being able to rotate so many role players and keep Indiana afloat. Some coaches would cry about all the bad luck and let the team fall apart, knowing there is a built in excuse. Quality coaches, instead, attack the challenge head on.

You may recall Memphis was another team last season that didn’t slip because of serious injuries. In midseason, the Grizzlies lost Pau Gasol (foot), Jason Williams (ankle), Bonzi Wells (back) and Stromile Swift (ankle). Losing that much talent would cripple many teams, but the Grizzlies were still able to play well.

This was a testament to the amount of depth that general manager Jerry West has accrued, and the tough defense head coach Mike Fratello demands. If you’re a totals player, note the Grizzlies were 51-34 "under" last season. In Memphis home games last year, the "under" was 27-15. This season, 21-9.

Still, most teams aren’t like Indiana and Memphis. Portland was ravaged by the injury bug for two seasons and fell apart. Charlotte, Utah and Houston have also battled key injuries and it affected their play, both straight up and against the number.

The Bobcats have been decimated since the season began. Not having young inside forces like Emeka Okafor and Sean May has crippled any hopes of improvement. Houston is without star Tracy McGrady again and just 9-24 ATS at home!

Dallas has had a brilliant season because of depth and improved defense. However, last week the Mavericks went through a stretch without Adrian Griffin (hamstring), forward Josh Howard (hamstring), guard Devin Harris (strained quad) and Keith Van Horn (knee).

The lack of depth showed up against the spread as Dallas went just 2-6 ATS, though winning five of eight contests. The Mavs had to come from 19-down at the half to beat Cleveland at home last week as a 7½-point favorite.

It’s essential to study injury logs and keep track of who’s playing and hurting when you analyze matchups. Golden State is a young club that suffered a slew of injuries, However, after getting healthy, they continued to struggle. The Warriors have been money-burners in their own division at 2-10 SU, 3-9 ATS.

The Clippers are a team that has persevered through some injuries and now are getting healthy at the right time. Corey Maggette is back after missing 39 games with a foot injury. Chris Kaman returned from a short absence and dazzled in a win over the Timberwolves, with 24 points, three blocks, 23 rebounds and four steals! LA went on a 7-3 SU, 8-2 ATS run, which included a 98-85 rout of the defending champion Spurs.

Some teams are deep and play good defense, which can help deal with the injuries. So make sure you check those injury reports daily and use the info properly.