Some injuries in basketball hurt less

Mar 10, 2009 4:02 PM
Feist Facts by Jim Feist |

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. Injuries do affect teams differently.

This was evident with the Milwaukee Bucks. They are still on the bubble for the last playoff slot in the East, but have been decimated by injuries to key players, including star guard Mike Redd, out for the season. That has put a lot of pressure on the bench and role players to step up and contribute more.

Teams can do this for a short stretch, but eventually it can wear them down. It’s no surprise the Bucks recently lost six of eight games. During that stretch the Bucks went four straight under the total as the offense struggled.

It’s essential to keep track of how injuries influence a team’s style, as well as straight up wins, losses and over/unders. This is where quality depth and attention to defense can pay dividends.

A year ago Houston lost star center Yao Ming after a 12-game win streak. Then the Rockets won another seven in a row (7-0 ATS)! Clearly there was far more at work than one star player. Houston was motivated and played magnificent defense, allowing 43 percent shooting by opponents, second best in the NBA.

The Rockets began their transformation in December when Tracy McGrady missed 11 games due to a knee injury. They won seven of the first nine. From there a new team emerged, with young Luis Scola, Carl Landry and Shane Battier contributing. They stepped in when McGrady was out, and later with Ming on the shelf.

Almost the same thing is happening this season. The Rockets lost McGrady for the season and traded Rafer Alston, but the supporting cast went on a terrific 7-2 SU/ATS run. When teams lose key players, look to see if they can fall back on depth or defense.

The Rockets continue to be a strong defensive team, allowing 44.8 percent shooting, fifth best in the league. The 94.8 ppg is seventh best overall.

Other times, teams aren’t as well prepared. Since there are so few players in basketball compared to football, the loss of any one from the starting five means a 20 percent change in the lineup. This can affect not only offense or defense, but team chemistry, which takes months to develop.

A year ago at this time the Miami Heat decided to sit four-time All-Star Dwyane Wade for the rest of the season to rehab his left knee. They turned to a small-ball lineup with newcomer Shawn Marion, going with an uptempo attack that started 5-4-1 over the total after a 6-3 under run.

The defending champion Boston Celtics are without star Kevin Garnett for three weeks. Not surprisingly, they haven’t been as dominant. Defensively they allowed the Pistons and Nets to score 105 and 111 in back-to-back games. That’s far off their seasonal average allowing 92.6 ppg, second best in the league. They are 16-4 the last two seasons without the Big Ticket.

The Clippers, for instance, have been ravaged by injuries the last three seasons and have fallen apart each time. LA went on a recent 2-7 SU/ATS run.