Thoughts on Rory,NFL Free Agency and the Kentucky Wildcats for Monday

 

Rory
Rory McIlroy isn't in any way like Tiger, but when he tosses a club into a pond he still needs to be held to the same standard.

As hard as I am on Tiger Woods, I’m a little disappointed that the sports media world hasn’t been a little harder on Rory McIlroy after he chucked his 3-iron into pond on the par five fifth hole at Trump Doral. One ESPN writer even went so far as to say “it wasn’t all negative.” Wait a minute… Why do we crush Tiger Woods for moments of anger that are a simple as a curse word but McIlroy gets a pass? Sorry but if you’re going to continue to push golf as a game of honor then demand it from all players not just some.

National Football League’s free agent frenzy is underway with some surprises and some some very expected moves. Ndamukong Suh will reportedly sign the richest deal for a defensive lineman ever on Tuesday when the formal signing can begin. Suh will get $60 million in guaranteed money as heads to the AFC East to play for the Miami Dolphins. The Raiders were thought to be major players for Suh but in the end the first rumored team to want him has gotten him.

Cobb
Randall Cobb surprised a few people with his decision to stay in Green Bay for less money.

In a bit of a surprise, Randall Cobb re-signed with the Green Bay Packers after it appeared there was no way they would be able to afford him. The Raiders reportedly offered him as much as $11-12 million per season but Cobb made a decision that far too many players do not. He chose less money and the chance for team success over anything else. Cobb continues to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers and will benefit from having other talented receivers around him.

I’m not sure I understand what the Philadelphia Eagles are up to in terms of their running back situation. They traded LeSean McCoy who is arguably in his prime years and now are rumored to be looking at former 49ers’ running back Frank Gore who is absolutely on the downside of his career. Granted, if they sign Gore, he’ll make much less money than McCoy would have but at the same time isn’t McCoy a better fir for the Chip Kelly offense?

No pun intended by this but what a tough break for the San Francisco Giants who have lost outfielder Hunter Pence for six to eight weeks. Pence, who played in all 162 games last season was struck on the forearm which fractured while he was batting. The defending champion Giants really have no room error in their quest to return to the playoffs. With the Dodgers already poised to be the division’s best team, the much-improved Padres will not be easily dismissed in 2015 either.

The Kentucky Wildcats achieved a perfect 31-0 regular season on Saturday with a win over SEC rival Florida. The arguments will be far and wide as to whether the team needs to lose in the SEC Tournament in order to capture the National Title. My take is that there will be pressure on these kids one way or another. They’ve been the overwhelming favorites to win the title since the season began and losing in the conference tournament will not make a bit of difference in the amount of pressure these players will face. Should UK lose somewhere in the next four weeks, the hindsight will be ridiculous. Just let the kids and John Calipari navigate the waters. There will be rough seas ahead one way or another.

Usually by this time in the NBA season I have a firm grasp on who I think will win the title but to be honest, I think any team in the Western Conference is capable of winning the championship while in the East I have faith only in the Hawks and Cavaliers.

 

Road Dogs in the Spotlight Today in the NBA

Duncan
Tim Duncan and the Spurs host the Chicago Bulls today in the Lone Star State.

I’m looking at three games in the National Basketball Association that have playoff and playoff positioning at stake. Let’s take a look.

Chicago (+9.5) at San Antonio – Despite the loss of both Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, the Bulls have been able to hang tough by winning six of their last ten but Chicago finds themselves in a battle with the Cavs and Raptors for that second seed behind the Atlanta Hawks.

The defending champion Spurs have won four in a row and six of their last ten games. They are now securely in the seventh seed ahead of eighth place OKC. I don’t believe Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are content with the seventh spot though. Right now, they are less then two games out of the fifth spot and are looking to advance.

Chicago has a very good 19-11 road record while the Spurs are 22-7 at home. I see no reason for this game not to be physical and highly competitive.

Trends: Chicago is 9-4 straight up in their last 13 games…San Antonio is 4-1 SU in their last five games… The Bulls are 4-11 SU in their last 15 games against the Spurs in San Antonio… The Spurs are 2-5-1 against the spread in their last eight games.

The Pick: Take the Spurs to win but I like the Bulls getting the points.

Clifford
Steve Clifford and the Hornets come to Detroit looking to stay hot.

Charlotte (+1) at Detroit – When Brandon Jennings went down with a torn Achilles’ tendon, most figured the Pistons playoff chances were over. Despite a brief flirtation, this appears to be the case. Detroit has fallen to four and a half games behind the eighth and final playoff spot. With about 20 games to go, there is time but they must win games like this one today.

The Hornets are among the teams the Pistons have to jump and they’re in no hurry to allow that to happen. Charlotte is actually tied for the seventh and eighth spots right now but based on tie-breakers is the odd team out. Both teams are headed in opposite directions as the Hornets have won four straight and the Pistons have dropped five in a row.

Trends: Charlotte is 5-1 straight up in their last six games… Detroit is 2-4 SU in their last six homes games… The Hornets are 8-16 against the spread in their last 24 games at Detroit… The Pistons are 12-6 SU in their last 18 games at home versus the Hornets.

The Pick: Detroit ends the skid today Take them to cover.

Toronto (+7) at Oklahoma City – The Raptors enter the Sooner State having lost seven of their last ten and they’ve dropped from the second seed in the East to the fourth as both Chicago and Cleveland have leaped them for the time being.

Meanwhile, the Thunder have won seven of ten and have ridden Russell Westbrook’s hot-hand. With Kevin Durant still recovering from foot surgery, Westbrook’s heroics of late have been needed. OKC has climbed into the eighth spot in the Western Conference but only has a one half game lead over New Orleans who has Anthony Davis back on the floor.

Trends: Toronto is 1-7 straight up in their last eight games… The Thunder is 5-0 SU in their last five home games… The Raptors are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games on the road in Oklahoma City… The Thunder is 10-3 SU against the Raptors in their last 13 games games in OKC.

The Pick: Take the Thunder to cover today.

2015 NBA Championship Odds Updated

Odds makers have updated their NBA Championship odds with the futures price of the Chicago Bulls going up and down like a roller coaster.

Chicago has seen its odds go up and down the last few weeks due to injuries. The Bulls odds went up to 20 to 1 from 8 to 1 last week following the news of guard Derrick Rose injuring his meniscus. When it appeared that Rose would likely return to play this season, odds makers moved the Bulls down to 10 to 1, according to Bovada and topbet.

Then Bulls guard Jimmy Butler sprained his elbow and could be out up to 6 weeks. As of Tuesday, when the new odds were released, the Bulls were back up to 14 to 1 o win the NBA Championship.

According to betonline and sportsbook.com, the Oklahoma City Thunder has also been hit by injuries and that that has impacted their odds for the championship as well.

Last week, the Thunder was one of the top 3 to win at 9 to 2 after a 7-game winning streak. However, on the new list, the Thunder had dropped slightly to 6 to 1. Russell Westbrook had minor surgery on his cheek and missed Sunday’s game, but is expected back for Wednesday’s game. Kevin Durant however will be out for another 3 to 4 weeks. Nevertheless, the team is in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

San Antonio is now one of just five teams listed on the futures board with odds in the single digits to win the NBA title, as the Spurs were adjusted to 8 to 1 from 10 to 1 the week before.

Memphis might just be the best bargain in the NBA at this time. The Grizzlies have the NBA’s third best overall record yet is only sixth in the betting with odds of 12 to 1.

2014-15 NBA TITLE ODDS

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 5 to 2
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 9 to 2
ATLANTA HAWKS 6 to 1
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 6 to 1
SAN ANTONIO SPURS 8 to 1
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 12 to 1
CHICAGO BULLS 14 to 1
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 14 to 1
HOUSTON ROCKETS 20 to 1
TORONTO RAPTORS 25 to 1

Duke in Hot Water Plus Take it Easy on LeBron People

Coach K
Coach K
I certainly hope Mike Krzyzewski did all the right things pertaining to a former player's alleged sexual assault.

Duke University is finding itself once again embroiled in a sexual assault case but this time around it isn’t the storied LaCrosse program. This time around the stakes are much higher because the spotlight is now on the most prominent person at the University and that would Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Back in late January, Coach K dismissed Rasheed Sulaimon for “repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations.” Now as it turns out, Sulaimon is alleged to have been in two different sexual assaults at the school.

Both accusers allegedly told people about the alleged attacks but did not go to anyone of authority. Options included the Durham Police as well as the Office of Student Conduct on campus. According to ESPN, the two women chose not to got to authorities because they feared what could come from the Duke fan base. If you think that line of thinking is wrong then read the story about the reporter who covered the Jameis Winston case in Tallahassee, Florida.

He was barraged with death threats and was attacked at every turn for simply doing his job as an investigative reporter.

I have no idea if what took place with Sulaimon and the two women involved but that won’t be the biggest story about this by a long shot if there is evidence that Mike Krzyzewski knew about this and did nothing. Coach K has power beyond belief on the Duke campus but people also said the same thing about Joe Paterno and Penn State and we know how that ended up.

If ESPN’s sources are accurate, then Krzyzewski did indeed know about about the alleged assaults as far back as as March of 2014.

I am in no way suggesting that this is on par with the events of Penn State; hopefully nothing ever will be again. But this can’t be waved away, not in 2015 where the media and more importantly social media are everywhere. We’ve already seen a legendary coach taken down for not doing enough. I sure would hate to see it happen to another.

LeBron
Fans need to check their memories a bit when it comes to the greats missing shots like LeBron did.

Take it easy on King James

I’ve written in these very pages before that I will never view LeBron James in the same stratosphere as Michael Jordan and the most simple reason why is the lack of a killer instinct. That said, the people throwing darts at James for his two missed free throws with just four seconds remaining in Houston the other night need to chill out.

“Jordan would have never missed those! Kobe wouldn’t have missed those either!”

I’ve got news for you folks… Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant missed plenty of game-winning shots during their careers. To say they didn’t means you have not seen enough of either of them because I’ve seen it and I know many others have too.

Like I said, I will never be able to place James above His Airness simply because he lacks the titles but just as importantly he lacks the killer instinct that drove Jordan so hard. That’s not his fault, it’s just how it is. Either way, lay off LeBron for crying out loud. There isn’t a professional alive who hasn’t missed key shots down the stretch.

Sometimes I wonder what universe you people are living in when you say “Jordan would have never missed those.”

The First Sunday in March Brings Many Thoughts From Across the Sports’ Spectrum

Westbrook

 

Westbrook
The dent in Russell Westbrook's face is pretty evident in this photo.

With numerous goings on in numerous sports, I’m giving you a little bit of everything as the third month of 2015 begins.

There was a time when it was extremely rare for fans to get a hold of hats, shirts or jerseys of their favorite teams and while that difficulty no longer exists the Pittsburgh Pirates have to wish it still did. With the revealing of “Jihadi John” of ISIS this week, a photo of him surfaced wearing a Pirates baseball cap and it has sickened not only the fans but the Pirates’ organization. It’s too bad you don’t actually have to do something to prove your fandom.

Remember the saying, “Do you want another hole in your head?” While a hole is not what Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook has after being kneed in the head inadvertently by a teammate. Westbrook had a clear ‘dent’ on the right side of his face and he had surgery to repair the zygomatic arch bone which is officially part of the cheek. He’s out for today’s game against the Lakers and will be re-evaluated this week,

Kentucky rolled to another SEC victory yesterday as they knocked off a pretty good Arkansas team. I have a really hard time seeing the Wildcats get beat before the NCAA Tournament begins. Yes, they could face some challenges in the SEC Tournament but once tourney time hits I expect them to be even better.

QBs
Mariota and Winston each have questions about their games heading towards the draft.

In what is already a weak quarterback class, both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have separate issues that teams considering them will have to contend with as the draft approaches. Winston’s issues are obvious; can he mature enough to make off-field problems a thing of the past? For Mariota, the issue might be bigger. I worry about him having to take traditional three, five and seven step drops at the pro level. It might not sound like a big deal but trust me, it is.

RIP Anthony Mason. The former New York Knick was the epitome of basketball in the mid-1990s when the game went from a fast-paced, back and forth style to an aggressive, physical style ushered in by the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons. Mason played with the Knicks and Patrick Ewing when they made the NBA Finals in 1994 and lost to the Houston Rockets. Mason was consistently at the epicenter of the chaos in the sometimes brutal and physical Eastern Conference Playoffs. Whether it was the Jordan-led Bulls or the Alonzo Mourning Heat, Mason was a physical presence not to messed with.

The Cleveland Browns did their due diligence in getting Josh McCown to come to them for the 2015 season. McCown will not be any kind of savior for Cleveland at 35 years of age but with Johnny Manziel in rehab and Brian Hoyer likely heading elsewhere, the Browns acted wisely to get a veteran QB into the fold. McCown was 1-10 last year with Tampa Bay and perhaps the reason the Browns liked him was that his one win was over the Steelers. Still, one has to wonder just what the direction of the Browns is.

While the NFL toys with the idea of one or possibly two teams in Los Angeles, a new study says a new stadium there would immediately be a terrorist target. While terrorism is nothing to joke about, why should we assume that a stadium in LA would be any more of a risk than one in New York or Chicago or Kansas City for that matter? Obviously bigger cities are better targets for terrorists but I don’t think we can just say the others aren’t susceptible as well.

Road Favorites Highlight My NBA Games for Tonight

Wall
Wall
Can John Wall and the Wizards turn things around tonight against the Pistons?

Detroit (+3.5) at Washington – Both the Pistons and Wizards have chosen poor times to hit losing streaks. Washington has dropped six straight games and eight of their last ten while Detroit has gone just 5-5 over their last ten and has dropped two in a row.

While the Eastern Conference is the weaker of the two conferences, the playoff race is unbeatable. Right now Detroit is in the 12th spot but amazingly, they are just one game out of the eight and final playoff spot. The Wizards are currently in the fifth spot and despite their poor play shouldn’t fall any further than sixth but stranger things have happened.

Trends: Detroit is 1-5 straight up in their last six games on the road… Washington is 0-5 SU in their last five games… The Pistons are 7-3 SU in their last ten games on the road at Washington… The Wizards are 2-8 against the spread in their last ten games versus Detroit.

The Pick: It’s hard not to like the Pistons tonight getting the points as well.

Toronto (-12) at New York – The Knicks have dropped eight of their last 10 games and as you know are now without Carmelo Anthony for the remainder of the season. I’m glad he was able to get so many minutes in the All-Star Game before shutting it down. Did you sense the sarcasm there?

Toronto is feeling heat right now from both the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have a one half game lead over the Bulls and a one game lead over the Cavs as the teams battle for the second spot in the East. The tight predicament is due to the Raptors four-game losing streak.

Trends: Toronto is 1-4 straight up in their last five games… New York is 1-4-1 against the spread in their last six games… The Raptors are 4-8-1 ATS in their last 13 games on the road… The Knicks are 1-8 SU in their last nine games.

The Pick: This is a good place for the Raptors to get back on track but I like the Knicks getting all those points.

Teague
Jeff Teague and the Hawks head to Miami to play the Heat tonight.

Atlanta (-5) at Miami – Lost in all of the discussion about Cleveland’s big win over Golden State is the fact that the Hawks continue to lead the Eastern Conference. They’ve won six of their last ten but they’ve won three straight as they head to South Beach.

The Heat are trying to survive without Chris Bosh as they currently reside in the seventh spot in the East. The problem is that there are five teams within two and a half games of them.

Trends: Atlanta is 21-4 straight up in their last 25 games… Miami is 1-4-1 against the spread in their last six games… The Hawks are 1-5 SU in their last six games on the road in Miami… The Heat are 7-15 SU in their last 22 games at home.

The Pick: I love the Hawks to cover tonight.

Memphis (-5) at Minnesota – Despite winning six of their last ten, the Grizzlies have dropped two in a row and continue to hold down the second seed in the Western Conference. The T-Wolves may have gotten Kevin Garnett back but they have the worst record in the West and Memphis comes in having played well in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Trends: Memphis is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games… Minnesota is 8-17 straight up in their last 25 games… The Grizzlies are 6-2 SU in their last eight games on the road in Minnesota… The T-Wolves are 3-14 SU in their last 17 games versus the the Grizzlies.

The Pick: I like Memphis to cover this evening.

Golden State vs. Cleveland Could be Preview to NBA Finals

Most sportsbooks are calling the matchup on Thursday night in the NBA between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, the most likely matchup for the NBA Finals this season

Most of the shops following the Derrick Rose injury this week, now consider Cleveland an even heavier favorite to win the Eastern Conference.

According to Bovada and sportsbook.com, the Cavaliers are currently -180 to make the NBA Finals and Chicago had been dropped to +1500. Out West, Golden State is +220 to take that conference title.

A Finals pairing between the Cavaliers and Warriors is currently paying +250. The pairings next highest include Cleveland/Oklahoma City at +650, Cleveland/Memphis at +800 and Atlanta/Golden State at +1000.

That makes the game on Thursday in Cleveland even that more of a big deal.

If bookmakers are correct in this matchup between Cleveland and Golden State does end up being a preview to the championship, this game would be the only reference point for the matchup.

The first head-to-head game between the two teams cannot be used as a comparison since star forward LeBron James did not play for Cleveland.

Golden State was victorious in that game 112-94. Golden State enjoyed an edge of 36-3 in points on the fast break and recorded 35 assists on 43 field goals.

The loss at the time was Cleveland’s fourth straight and the Cavs would eventually lose six straight. However, since James returned from two weeks on the sideline Cleveland is 17-2.

Nevertheless, Golden State is 21-5 over its past 26 games overall and has won 16 of 19 games against Eastern Conference opponents.

One the MVP front, Stephen Curry remains at -300, the overwhelming favorite. James is third at +500, with Houston’s James Harden sitting second at +350 and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in fourth at +1000.

With the consistency Curry has played with all season and the way his team had taken the West by storm and leading the NBA with the best record overall, it will be hard to un-seed him from the top.

Curry scored 51 points on February 4 and is averaging 28 points per game during the month. He scored 32 on Tuesday night after sitting out a game over the weekend with a sore ankle.

Kyrie Irving is a great defender for Cleveland, but Curry was not fazed the first time they met this season as he scored 23 points, had 10 assists and just one turnover.

New NBA Championship Futures See Thunder Rise and Heat and Suns Fall

Odds makers have released the latest futures for the NBA Championship. The Oklahoma City Thunder are playing so well the team has moved into third on the odds board, while teams such as the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns are rapidly going in the other direction.

Only a week ago, the Thunder was sitting in seventh place on the odds board, but has seen their odds shortened to 60 to 1, which is down from last week’s 12 to 1.

The odds makers are showing a great deal of respect to the Thunder, despite the team holding down only the eighth and final postseason spot in the NBA Western Conference. However, the Thunder has won 7 straight games including wins over the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Clippers last week and picked up three players on the trade deadline to add to their roster.

The futures odds shortened for the Thunder even despite the lingering concerns over the health of Kevin Durant who had what was described as a minor procedure to ease some discomfort on his right foot. The soreness has come from surgery Durant had on his foot in October. It is thought Durant will return prior to the end of the regular season.

Amongst the teams in a free fall of sorts this week on the boards is the Heat. After receiving Goran Dragic in a trade last week, the starting five for Miami looked strong. However, the next day, Chris Bosh was lost for the season with blood clots. Without the best player on the Heat, their odds of winning the NBA title fell to 300 to 1 from last week’s 100 to 1. The Phoenix Suns have lost five straight games and 8 of their past 10 to fall out of the eighth spot in the West and into 10th. The Suns also dropped to 300 to 1 from 100 to 1 last week.

NBA CHAMPIONSHIP FUTURES
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 3 to 1
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 4 to 1
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 6 to 1
ATLANTA HAWKS 7 to 1
SAN ANTONIO SPURS 8 to 1
CHICAGO BULLS 8 to 1
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 12 to 1
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 12 to 1
TORONTO RAPTORS 20 to 1
HOUSTON ROCKETS 30 to 1

NBA is Finding More Reasons to Shorten It’s Regular Season

Silver
Silver
Adam Silver wants to explore a shorter regular season and I can see why.

I mentioned last week that National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver was contemplating changes to the season schedule. To be honest, the owners are unlikely to be in favor of any changes that reduce the number of games. With each team currently hosting 41 games, the reduction of any means the reduction of gate money.

Oh, did I forget it also means lost money on team gear, food, beverages and arena parking?

There is one way owners can recoup the lost income however and that’s to raise prices on all of the above and that worries me. Ticket prices are already preposterous and so are concession prices. It’s pretty much to the point where you need to have a kidney ready in order to pay for a round of beers.

What’s so interesting is that at a time when the National Football League is flirting with adding an extra game or two, Silver is instead looking to go into another direction. I don’t think we need to worry too much about NBA owners heading to the streets to look for hand-outs though.

I think where you’ll see things change isn’t so much with the NBA’s regular season but with its’ preseason. For years the league has pushed preseason games out of the country in an effort to drum up more support for the game. With places like China and many countries in Europe hosting NBA preseason games, the wear and tear on players has increased.

You might ask how top players are getting worn down by playing just a few minutes in meaningless preseason games but it’s the travel and time changes that take a toll. This, at a time when players are supposed to be getting ramped up for the grueling 82 game schedule.

I’m guessing that Silver will seek a reduction in preseason games and perhaps limits to out of country games as well. Regardless of his decision you can rest assured the NBA’s owners will not be losing money.

KD
Kevin Durant is seeing himself back to the bench following another procedure on his bad foot.

On a separate yet very connected story, injuries are all the rage in the NBA today. If you needed further evidence of why Silver wants to reduce the regular season schedule than look at the news from the league today.

Kevin Durant, who is trying to get his Oklahoma City Thunder back in the playoff race, had a medical procedure done his previously injured foot and will be re-evaluated in a week or so.

Also on the bench for the next week or two is New Orleans’ Anthony Davis who is out with a sprained shoulder suffered in Saturday night’s game against Miami. This is not the first time that Davis has missed some time this season and like many others is part of the motivation for a shortened regular season.

Last but certainly not least is Boston’s Jared Sullinger is who out for the remainder for the remainder of the season with a bad left foot. While both Sulinger’s Celtics and Davis’ Hornets aren’t exactly going anywhere related to the postseason, they do represent young stars of the league.

Adam Silver needs players like these to be on the court whether their respective teams are in the playoff hunt or not. Each time one of these young guys is out that will most definitely reduce the number of butts that were going to be in seats.

Now it could be just “one of those years” in the NBA but if Silver is concerned about it then there must be something of a real and natural concern.

 

NBA Re-Starts After Week Long All-Star Break

The NBA returns from his All-Star break on Thursday with just two games on the calendar but bigger slates of games will tip off on Friday and Saturday.

A number of teams in the NBA would have preferred if the season would have not stopped for the All-Star break. LeBron James and the Cavaliers were on a roll winning 14 of their past 16 games prior to the break and the last loss was to Chicago the night prior to the break and some say the Cavs might have being looking ahead to a week off.

James was consulted last season by Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, about extending the All-Star break. James said he had a say in it and thought everybody would benefit in the league.

James, in theory should be right, as it gave players a chance to have an extended rest with the majority of teams not practicing until this past Wednesday.

Overall, the advantages outweigh any disadvantages, but disadvantages still do exits. If teams have a difficult time getting back into a rhythm it could be disastrous for them down the stretch.

Chicago exits the All-Star break with the longest active winning streak in the NBA with four straight. Milwaukee and Toronto have each won 8 of their past 10. Memphis is the only Western Conference team to be that hot of late. It will be interesting to see how the Spurs, Mavericks and Rockets can start pressuring the Grizzlies for second place in the conference.

The Grizzlies do not start again until Sunday night in Portland. Each team starting this stretch run has between 26 and 31 games left on their regular season schedule.

The NBA re-starts with Dallas playing at Oklahoma City and San Antonio visiting the Los Angeles Clippers. OKC has battled its way back to within a half game of Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

San Antonio, Dallas and the Clippers all have lost 19 games and are holding down the 5 to 7 seeds at the moment.

The West is by far the deeper of the two conferences with the tenth place New Orleans Pelicans one game over .500, while the East has just six of its 15 teams over .500.

Odds maker have kept Cleveland at or near the top all season thus far in the futures and the Cavaliers are currently at the top with Golden State at 7 to 2 to win the title.