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2008/09 NBA Season Preview

Bodog NBA Season Preview

The gambling world is about to go into overdrive. Basketball is second only to football in popularity among handicappers, and the NBA is the king of the hardcourt between now and March Madness. Millions of dollars will exchange hands. Some of it could go directly into your account.

The 2008-09 season begins Tuesday, but the sharpest handicappers have already been doing their homework and keeping track of all the offseason changes. If you’re behind the curve, no sweat. A quick brush-up will instantly make you sharper than a large percentage of the betting public.

The new season starts with three teams hogging the spotlight. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are coming off a dramatic NBA Finals; the Lakers are favored at 3-1 to win the title this time, with the Celtics a close second at 7-2. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are the third team in question. They’re a second-tier pick at 12-1, but James is a +250 co-favorite with L.A.’s Kobe Bryant to win the league’s MVP award.

All three of these teams have made aggressive personnel changes over the past couple of years: Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Boston, Pau Gasol to Los Angeles, and a revamped supporting cast for James in Cleveland. The Cavs have the most room for improvement of the three, especially after going 45-37 SU and 37-45 ATS last year.

The Lakers figure to play better as well with Andrew Bynum in the middle. He was enjoying a breakout season last year (18.3 points and 14.1 rebounds per 40 minutes) until a knee injury put him down for the count after just 35 games. The statheads at Basketball Prospectus compare Bynum’s production to Dwight Howard’s in Orlando. Bynum certainly doesn’t share Howard’s profile, so the argument can be made that Los Angeles still has some betting value.

NBA Basketball betting in the Bodog Sportsbook.

We can’t predict how healthy Bynum will stay, but we should get a very good sense of how well Bynum and Gasol will mesh when the Lakers host the Portland Trail Blazers in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader on TNT. The first game, conveniently enough, features the Celtics and the Cavs. Boston faces a potential downgrade with Garnett at age 32 and Allen at age 33, but the Celtics and Lakers both have young, strong benches that keep their teams competitive through the inevitable injuries and fatigue of an 82-game season.

Again, the Celtics, Lakers and Cavaliers are at the center of public attention. It’s natural to want to pay attention to them – they play outstanding basketball. But if you’re interested in making real money, the trick is to find the next big thing, the rising team that the betting public undervalues. That could very well be the Trail Blazers. They’ve improved from 21 to 32 to 41 wins over the last three seasons, and they’ve added two potential instant stars in Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez. Portland has moved from 50-1 at the open to 35-1 to win the title this year; perhaps Oden-Fernandez will be this year’s Garnett-Allen.

It helps that the Portland franchise is all alone in a Pacific Northwest market that used to include Seattle and Vancouver. Being isolated from the national media consciousness is a great way to sneak up on the pay window. It’s worked for the Toronto Raptors for years, although the 2007-08 season was a disappointment at 39-42-1 ATS. Trading for Jermaine O’Neal is expected to take the Raptors (25-1 title odds) to the next level; at the other end of that trade, T.J. Ford will be a big help for the Indiana Pacers, who have been largely ignored the past two seasons.

The biggest turnaround story of the year might end up coming from Los Angeles – the Clippers, that is. Losing Elton Brand to the Philadelphia 76ers was painful, but getting Marcus Camby from Denver for virtually nothing goes a long way toward replacing Brand’s production. Brand’s defection also took some of the spotlight away from the big Baron Davis signing. The bench is awful, but the poor man’s Big Three of Davis, Camby and Chris Kaman has a chance to do some excellent work in the media shadow of the Lakers.

There are dozens of sharp NBA bets out there waiting to be found just by using a simple value-based approach like this. And there’s a lot to be said for being a trendsetter instead of a bandwagon-jumper.

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Articles on CappersPicks.com are written by Q (the Head Honcho) at Cappers Picks or by our resident "in house" handicapper Razor Ray Monohan! Enjoy the free picks folks! "Pad that bankroll one day at a time!"