Tag Archives: NBA

NBA Utopia Project: Proposing the NBA Cup

I’ve been motivated into writing about something different this week, after reading an article by Daniel Leroux on a 58-game NBA season as part of the NBA Utopia project. The NBA Utopia project is platform to share ideas for how the league could work in an ideal world. Well, I’m sharing my vision for a NBA Cup…

I’m quite strict on who I consider to be a contender. Usually it’s about 3 teams that I consider as being good enough to win the title in a season. Last year I thought the title was going to one of Cleveland, San Antonio or Golden State. This year’s it’s the same 3 teams, but you could make a case for the Thunder or the Clippers to be contenders too.

According to the betting markets, there’s a 82.6% chance that the title is going to one of those 5 teams. As a reference point the top 13 teams in the NFL have a 83% chance of winning this year’s Superbowl (again according to the betting market).

The point I’m making is that for the vast majority of teams, they have next to no chance of winning any silverware this year. There’s only one trophy and only 3-5 teams’ fanbases can realistically dream of their team holding it come June.

As a gambler I like that each team plays 82 games. Hell, as a gambler I’d like them to play even more games! But as a fan I don’t want more games for the sake of it, I want more meaningful games. As the season is so long there are stretches where there isn’t much intensity in the games. Especially during the last few weeks of the regular season when certain teams have their playoff place & seed sown up and are avoiding injuries, while other teams are eliminated from the postseason and are thinking about their summer vacation (if they don’t have a new contract to play for). Around this time of year you often hear calls on Twitter to “just start the playoffs already goddamnit!”.

So, as a fan I wouldn’t mind if they played 10-25 games less. If they played everybody else just home & away that would be 58 games each, which Daniel Leroux previously wrote about. That’s more than enough games to find out the top 8 teams in each conference. What I’m proposing is setting aside about a 2-3 week period, so removing some regular season games, to have an NBA Cup.

A what now?

In most sports here in Europe there’s a league championship, where everybody plays everyone else home & away, and then there’s a cup competition; a series of single game knockout matches. In soccer, I’m sure most Americans are familiar with the English Premier League and the FA Cup, and also the League Cup (currently called the Capital One Cup). In the European basketball competitions there’s the domestic league, and during up to a week period in February; there’s a cup competition.

A cup competition provides the chance for a lot more teams to win some silverware. Team such as Atlanta, Dallas, Milwaukee, New Orleans etc have no real shot at the title. But (with some HCA) could conceivably win 5 knockout games in a row to win the NBA Cup. Even Lakers fans could convince themselves that they have at least some hope for a season!

Look at the success of college basketball. TV companies pay $10.8 billion to show March Madness as it has massive viewership. More people actually watch March Madness than the NBA playoffs. Part of the reason for this is due to the drama that a single game elimination format provides.

A NBA Cup would generate a lot of interest in the NBA as it would draw in a lot of casual viewers. It could attain the broad appeal that the NCAA tournament has.

What’s the format of this NBA Cup going to look like?

  • Round 1: 14 games
  • Round 2: 8 games
  • Quarterfinals: 4 games
  • Semifinals: 2 games
  • Final: 1 game

As there’s 30 NBA teams, 2 teams will have a bye in the first round. This could be the previous year’s NBA champions and Cup winners. If a team did the ‘double’ (winning both the championship & the cup) then the team that has the best regular season record gets the other bye. I’d like to quickly mention the prestige in winning the double, it’s usually a sign of a historically good team. Recent English football double winners include the Manchester United teams of ’94 & ’99, Arsenal of 2002, and Chelsea of 2010.

Tournament format:


Above is a suggested tournament schedule. There’s a day off in between round for rest/travel. The worst case scenario is if a team has to play 5 games in 12 days. I think the best time to have this competition is after the Superbowl, but before March Madness (both for obvious reasons). So that leaves February, the month of the All Star Game.

Like the FA cup I like the idea of a random draw, broadcast live after each round.

Accrington Stanley! Who are they?!

The remaining teams each are represented by a ball and are drawn out to determine who will play at home to whom in the next round. Imagine the draw being carried out by 2 NBA HOFers, each introduced with a montage of the finest moments from their careers…

..But a better way to get that mainstream appeal is to copy the NCAA and have the full bracket determined before the first match. That way everyone in the country can fill out a bracket and form an interest in the competition from the start. Even people who couldn’t even name one college player fill out a bracket for March Madness. It appeals to people who don’t even normally watch basketball.

Either way, home court advantage would be present until the Final 4. This is where the 2 Semis and the Final are played at a designated city over a weekend. A bit like All Star weekend, expect there’s going to be some games actually worth watching! The Saturday in between the Semi and Final could be used for the All Star Game, for players who aren’t playing in the Final.  Personally, I think the ASG is terrible and never I watch it. But some other people like it. The ASG viewing numbers are better than the average regular season game, but obviously nowhere near as popular as the NBA Finals. You could use it to fill the gap between the Semis and Final.

So would you rather keep a 82-game regular season, or would you like to see an NBA Cup introduced?

NBA Playoffs Summary

They are who we thought they were…

So the NBA season is over for another year with the best team winning in the Golden State Warriors. GSW had a historically good regular season, in terms of games won and their point margin. There’s been plenty written about how teams as good as that usually go on to win the title.

Andre Iguodala was the pleasantly surprising winner of Finals MVP.


I also had money on Lebron, who everyone would consider being “the best player in the series”, but as he played on the losing team he didn’t win “Finals MVP”. Interesting that Curry didn’t receive a single vote for MVP despite being the slight odds on favourite going into game 6.

Throughout the rounds of the playoffs I’ve been posting up some recommended bets here on the blog, we’ve had:

  • 5 wins
  • 3 loses
  • Total profit of +3.17 points 

If anyone’s been able to retire to the South of France on the back of those tips, at the very least, send your new best mate Flash a postcard, eh?

Something else…during the playoffs you may have seen a graphics on TV saying the David Blatt has won 16 titles in Europe. I’ve seen people on Twitter saying things along the lines of “See. I knew he was a great coach!” and “only a coaching expert from the highest echelons could win 16 titles in Europe”.

“Winning here is easy!”

I’ve been overly critical of Blatt man, but I still think this 16 titles needs clearing up, or the biggest asterisk known to man next to it.

No, not big enough.

11 of those titles were in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv: 5 League titles & 6 Cups. Maccabi are by far & away the biggest basketball team in Israel. There’s been 60 league championships in Israel over the years and Maccacbi have won 51 of them! Out of the 9 times they didnt win, in 7 of them they finished runner-up. As for the cup they’ve won it 42 times out of 55 years!  Accumulatively, out of 115 trophies in Israeli basketball, Maccabi have won 93 of them, that’s 81%!

In conclusion, professional basketball in Israel could be politely described as a joke. As long as you remember to turn up & have 5 guys on court, you could most likely ‘coach’ Maccabi Tel Aviv to a trophy.

If you want to talk about Blatt’s European record as a indicator of coaching prowess, then mention winning EuroBasket 2007 or an Olympic bronze medal in 2012, both with Russia. Or maybe winning the Euroleague (although the final 4 format is a total crapshoot)…

Finally I’m going to add a new little feature to the blog, a Trivia question of the week. Who likes sports and doesn’t like trivia? Not me, nor the good souls reading this. So feel free to think about it, use the Google machine if you cant wait for the answer next week, and later impress work colleagues and ladies at the bar with your new found knowledge:

Who are the two golfers to have contested and lost playoffs/extra holes in all four of the major championships?

NBA Finals

And then there were two…

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

Here we are, the Finals are here. Usually I would be pumped to the max but this year’s playoffs have been a bit of a let-down. I think they’ve lacked real excitement. The only great series was Clippers v Spurs, but even then a few of those games involved intentional fouling DeAndre Jordan constantly…which I previously whinged about. The only series winners that weren’t predicted here on Winners Win was the Clippers over the Spurs. Rather than claim to be a Fucking Predicting Legend I think the reason is that this year’s playoffs have lacked surprises.

Current Cavs ‘coach’ Blatt could be the first coach the win the Euroleague and then NBA title back to back. Note the use of ‘coach’, I’m not impressed with Blatt. If you watch this team play it’s not like they even have a coach. It’s all through LeBron, his usage rate has been sky high and they rarely run an actual play. In his defence Love is out and Kyrie has been injured, so he’s had to carry this team to the Finals.

LeBron has now got to 5 consecutive Finals. He’s got to 6 in total with the spanking he received from the Spurs back in 2007. If he loses this one his record will only be 2 from 6. So when NBA ‘experts’ Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith compare him to Michael Jordan, they’ll make it look even less favourable considering MJ won 6 titles from 6 Finals…not that anyone with a fully functioning brain would care what those 2 morons have to say on any topic.


The betting market has GSW at 1.44 (-225 US) to win. I’ve already got money on them at 1.67 to lift the title and I’m happy with this position. Even now I think they’ve got a greater than the implied 69% chance. Maybe if the Cavs win a game on the road from one of the first two games, then the market will overreact and lead to some generous odds again to back GSW, for anyone who hasn’t backed them already.

Basically for the Cavs to have a good chance LeBron needs to play awesome and play 40+mins every game. But GSW can choose from 4 guys that they can put on LeBron. So that counteracts any fatigue or foul trouble that one guy could suffer when tasked with the job of defending LeBron. It’s like a war of attrition.

I believe that GSW are clearly the better team, they’ve better than the Cavs on both sides of the ball, and they have home court advantage. So if I had to choose what I think is the most likely scoreline…then I would go with 4-1 GSW, which is available at 4.0 (+300). I was an earlybird and dutched the 4-1 & 4-2 scorelines at 4.5 and 6.5.

GSW -1.5 games on the series handicap is available at evens. I reckon that’s worth you putting some of your pocket money towards!

Looking at the odds for the Finals MVP was a waste of time. Curry is the obvious choice but he’s at 1.5 (-200)! I wouldn’t bother at those odds. LeBron is at 3.0 (+200), obviously there’s no point in backing a player who plays for the team you thinks going to lose. If you’re a total degenerate and can’t function without having a bet then you could back someone like Klay Thompson around 21.0 and hope he’s goes mental and has a couple of 40+ point games.

Prediction: GSW to win the title in 5 games, Curry to win the MVP.

Recommended Bets: GSW to win the title at 1.67 (pending bet from previous round). GSW -1.5 games series handicap at evens.

Update: GSW are the champs, winning 4-2.

Bets Summary: 2-0. +1.67 pts

NBA Playoffs – Conference Finals

I was going to write a preview on the Eurovision Song Contest…but then I thought “Fuck that, the Conference Finals are starting tonight!”.

All 4 Second Round playoff series were predicted correctly last time around. Including 3 correct series scores. Unfortunately we didn’t profit from it as the recommended bets turned a small loss as Memphis somehow won a couple of games against Golden State.

For all the chat about how open this year’s Championship was looking, here we are with the 1st and 2nd seeds in each Conference remaining. Over the course of the season the Hawks & Cavs have clearly been the best teams in the East. GSW have easily been the best team overall, and Houston are like a bunch of underage gatecrashers who haven’t been thrown out of the bar (yet).

Eastern Conference Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks

Wow, who predicted this ECF?!? /sarcasm

The Cavs are available around 1.50 (-200 US) to win the East, The Hawks are mostly around 2.75 (+175). I backed the Hawks to beat Washington in the previous round, and for the early part of the series that bet was looking like a loser for sure. The Hawks weren’t playing well and their front court doesn’t look healthy. Then John Wall got injured and things turned around from there.

I could easily talk myself into backing Atlanta to quality from the onset, I’ve rarely seen them fire on all cylinders in the playoffs so far. Plus I’ve got a major problem investing money in a team that plays Pero fucking Antic significant minutes. Seriously, I’ve watched this knobhead play in Europe and I thought he was stealing a living. Remember that Nenad Krstić is a quality player in Europe.

If one was to put their conspiracy theorist hat on (which would be made of tin foil ;) one could put forward the argument that the league would dearly love to see LeBron’s team in the finals, again. And would hate to see Atlanta there. So one could expect to see LeBron get all the calls…whether or not this exists is up for debate but I’m sure that the betting market reflects this somewhat. Coupled with the fact that the market is going to overrate LeBron’s team and underrate an unfancied team like Atlanta; I’m sure that there’s going to value in backing Atlanta along the way in this series.

Prediction: Still it’s hard to go against the best player in the world. Cavs in 6.


Update: Atlanta fell apart and got swept.

Western Conference Finals

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets

The Rockets came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Clippers, winning the last 3 games to qualify. Epic scenes! And what do they win?.. The opportunity to get spanked off Golden State! GSW have played Houston 4 times this season, and have thrashed them 4 times. Houston doesn’t have the defence to compete with GSW, and I simply cannot see a way that they’re coming out of this series.

Golden State are priced at 1.13 (-800) to qualify. It’s not often that I back really short odds. So a look at the series score betting and I see that the 4-0 is at 4.50 (+350). Considering they are 1.13 to qualify the 4-0 scoreline is too big for me. You want more? Ok some back-of-the-cigarette-packet maths:

GSW are 1.17 to win game 1, so imagine they are 1.17 to win game 2 as well. The last time GSW played at Houston they were just over evens. BUT that was after a back-to-back. The time before that they were 1.68 with Pinnacle to win there. So if we just say 1.70 for game 3&4 we get:


Even if GSW were 1.70 at Houston I’d be backing that.

Prediction is GSW in 5 this is the most likely scoreline, but the value play is in backing GSW 4-0 at 4.50 (+350).

Also backing GSW to win the title at 1.67 (-150). I felt that only the Spurs or Clippers could stop them. 1.67 implies that they have a 59.9% chance of winning it all. I think it’s more likely than that.

Update: GSW won in 5, so I missed out on the GSW sweep.

Bets: 0-1. -1pt

Game 7 & a Final

Morning all we have an excellent day’s worth of basketball ahead of us:

Euroleague Final

If you don’t know what the Euroleague is, it’s basically like the Champions league for basketball. On Friday in the semis, Olympiacos beat CSKA, and Real Madrid, who are hosting beat Fenerbahce. So today, first up CSKA play Fenerbahce in the 3rd place playoff. 3rd place playoffs are pretty boring in every sport. The players don’t want to be there, but they are good for two things; backing the underdog if the odds are too long, check. And backing unders if the line is too low, check.

After that the Final is on with Real Madrid with HCA playing Olympiacos. I tweeted on Friday that I was backing Olympiacos to beat CSKA. The odds were way too low considering the final 4 format is such a crapshoot. A game of basketball is quite a random event, even more so when its a 40 minute, single game elimination where the pressure’s ramped up to 11. As a result Olympiacos, who are a good but not great team, have got to the final 3 out of the last 4 years, where they have been a heavy underdog. If they needed to win another playoff series to get to the final, it’s much more unlikely that that would have happened.

Real Madrid are the low priced favourite at 1.35 (-285 US), and are -7.5 on the spread. I’d prefer backing Olympiacos at +7.5 rather than outright, I feel it’s going to be close and low scoring but that Real Madrid will win. The points total is 154.5, despite Real having an average total of 163 at home this season. Olympiacos will try to lower the pace and minimise the number of possessions, otherwise they could get blown out.

Clippers at Rocket game 7

After the Euroleague final, the big lads are playing in America, with a Game 7 baby! I haven’t seen much of this series so far and many have been saying that it hasn’t been very entertaining. In fact eye witness reports have described it as being “dog ugly” and “sucking a fat one”. But I’m stubbornly looking forward to it nonetheless!

Despite having HCA, Houston are the underdog here at 2.25 (+125), and -2.5 on the spread. This is the first time, out of 92 game 7s, where the home team is the underdog…and I still wouldn’t fancy backing Houston! In a pressure situation would you trust a coach like McHale, or the mental fortitude or the ability to think clearly under pressure of James Harden or Dwight Howard? Of course not! I wouldn’t trust Dwight Howard to spell his own name correctly under pressure. Like the Euroleague final I’ll watch the game and wait if there’s anything I like the look of in-play with the moneyline or spread. With the points totals I’ve had a little bit of under 220.5.