So Much for Lionel Hollins!

Coach Ron Meyer: So Much for Lionel Hollins!

Man, I say something nice about a coach just before a big game, and he lets a 27-point lead get away from him in one of the biggest collapses in basketball history! There was still a lot to be impressed with as Memphis was building that lead. But, no head coach can just stand idly by as his team stops playing in the postseason.

What do I mean by "stop playing?"

Memphis stopped running its offense that had worked so great all night, and was just content to run the clock before forcing up a bad shot. This happened WAY too early. You can do that with three or four minutes to go and a 20-point lead, but not with eight minutes or more. Hollins deserves a lot of credit for devising a schematic that kept getting open jumpers or high percentage inside shots. Memphis really made the LA Clippers defense look helpless through the first three quarters. In the fourth, Memphis basically started guarding themselves and putting up bad shots!

Memphis stopped attacking on defense. They figured their big lead was safe, so there was no need to chase down every three-point shot. It was okay to allow a dunk or two, or three, because that basket wasn't going to matter. Suddenly, a Clippers team that had struggled much of the night was racing to the rim and scoring quickly. Hey, if Chris Paul has the ball, you have to play defense or he'll rip you apart with passes or baskets!

A coach doesn't deserve all the credit when things are going well. A coach doesn't deserve all the blame when something bad happens. The players on the court played the biggest role in terms of losing their focus and intensity. Every athlete has to learn lessons about overconfidence at some point. You just hope it doesn't come in a season-changing game at the worst possible time.

Still, as Memphis was blowing its big lead, Hollins didn't take anything beyond the "assigned" timeout for television until a 27-point margin had been whittled to just three. Some head coaches get ridiculed for micromanaging their teams...calling timeouts every time they sense a lack of focus. Hollins trusts his players. This time, that trust was misplaced. Sorry, but there's just no way one of those micromanaging coaches would have lost this game.

And, one of those micromanaging coaches would have helped his team get off a better shot in the final seconds when they were down one! Plus, you don't shoot at the buzzer down one. You shoot with a few seconds left so you have a chance for a tip in or putback.

I still believe all the nice things I said about what Hollins has done this year with this team, and last year in the playoffs. We saw late Sunday night that the Grizzlies weren't ready to deal with success. As was the case with Indiana Saturday, hustling teams who are feisty underdogs can have trouble handling higher expectations and short term success. Teams really do need to "learn how to win" as they climb the ladder. Maybe both the Pacers and Grizzlies have learned their lessons, and will re-assert themselves in Game Two (that comes quickly for Indiana, who hosts Orlando tonight). Or, maybe these teams just aren't ready yet to play to market expectations as series favorites.

Let me quickly update my thoughts on the first round coaching matchups...

  • Memphis-LA Clippers: this is no longer a big mismatch for the Grizzlies because there are question marks about sealing the deal when things are going well. And, we might as well consider Chris Paul as the true head coach of the team rather than Vinny Del Negro.

  • San Antonio-Utah: still a big mismatch for the Spurs. 

  • LA Lakers-Denver: George Karl gets the edge from many pundits and analysts. I can't say I agree for this series. He's using some questionable rotations and approaches in terms of trying to score points on the LA defense.

  • Oklahoma City vs. Dallas: I called this a slight edge to Dallas the other day. Game One has me rethinking that because the Mavericks were well-prepared and OKC was lucky to win. Dallas continues to be one of the best coached teams in the league.

  • Chicago vs. Philadelphia: still an edge to Chicago, but "overcoaching" may have been what led to Derrick Rose getting injured with a 12-point lead and only a minute or so left.

  • Miami vs. New York: nothing Saturday looked good for the Knicks. If they don't make adjustments tonight, I move this from "interesting" to "big edge for Miami."

  • Indiana vs. Orlando: I wasn't impressed with Indiana here, as they never looked like the favorite even though they were a big favorite. Is Vogel ready to win as a big favorite?

  • Boston vs. Atlanta: still an edge to Boston in my view, as it's tough to pin poor shooting on the head coach.

I'll be back in action tonight in the NBA playoffs with my CINCH MOVE. You can purchase it right here at the website along with a baseball DIAMOND DOUBLE PLAY via credit card as we speak. If you have any questions about my handicapping service, call my office at 1-877-540-8787.

If you've been struggling out of the gate in the playoffs, it's time to put A COACH IN YOUR CORNER!


When Stars Struggle

By Wayne Root

:If you watched a lot of sports this past weekend, you know that one of the compelling themes in both basketball and basketball was the issue of stars struggling. Several big name NBA players had poor shooting performances in the first games of their series. The baseball media is abuzz about the horrible start to 2012 for Albert Pujols, and the relative power outage of Prince Fielder.

Here's a brief list of lowlights from a few superstars...

  • Carmelo Anthony was 3 of 15 shooting for the New York Knicks in their humiliating loss to Miami Saturday afternoon. I had expected a much better effort from New York in that game. Maybe they just threw in the towel early so they can save any adjustments for tonight's Game Two. New York fans hope that's the case.

  • Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was 10 of 27 from the floor against Dallas Saturday, and it would have been 9 of 27 if not for a friendly roll on the game-winner at the buzzer. It's tough for any team to cover as favorites when their best player is missing this many shots.

  • Nobody on the Indiana Pacers played well Saturday in their stunning loss to Orlando. Star Danny Granger was just 5 of 16 inside the arc against a defense that didn't have Dwight Howard swatting away helicopters.

  • Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics was 5 of 19 shooting Sunday Night in Atlanta. This isn't a team that has much depth, so the main guys have to do all the heavy lifting. Pierce was nowhere near his playoff norms in this surprisingly sluggish Boston loss.

  • Albert Pujols went 2 for 12 in Cleveland, with two singles, as the Los Angeles Angels dropped two of three in a weekend series. His mechanics are so messed up now that you wonder how long it's going to take before he starts connecting. His current batting line of .216, .266, .295 is a disaster. Last year he was .299, .366, .541 in batting average, on-base, and slugging percentages.

  • Prince Fielder didn't do much damage for the Detroit Tigers despite that friendly right field porch in Yankee Stadium. He did finally end a long home run drought with a solo shot in Sunday's loss. That was only his third dinger of the year! Fielder's slugging just .444 this year as a Tiger, after registering .566 last season in Milwaukee. Detroit dropped two of three in New York. Fielder's lack of power in the heart of the lineup so far is one of the main reasons the team isn't running away with the AL Central.

One reason WAYNE ALLYN ROOT is known as THE KING OF UPSETS is because I understand that star players can't always reach expectations. Vegas oddsmakers price them at their peaks rather than their averages. Good teams with star players are always high priced in pointspreads or baseball moneylines. That's because the public wants to bet on good teams...with the expectation that the best players are going to deliver.

If you want to be a successful handicapper, you must develop a sense of when those stars ARE going to deliver, and when they're NOT. My best SHOCK THE SYSTEM upset calls come when I see a bad game or a bad series looming for a big name player. My best BLOWOUT calls come when I see that a star is ready for a peak performance.

A few quick keys:

  • Star performances are often keyed to matchups. Don't ask a star basketball scorer to shine, or bounce back from a bad game if he's once again being guarded by a great defender. Don't ask a star scorer to shine or bounce back if he's battling an injury. Bet on healthy stars vs. opponents they can dominate. Bet AGAINST them in poor matchup situations.

  • Stars can slump, and history has made it clear that you're better off betting the slump than trying to time when it ends. People have been expecting Pujols to bounce back every single day this year. He's still slumping and the Angels are still losing.

  • Betting value is greatly influenced by what the public thinks about a star rather than the star himself. Be sure you're focusing on public misperceptions created by media coverage when you're placing your Las Vegas bets. You need to handicap the players AND the public in this field.

My understanding of the nuances and the numbers has set up Monday Night's NUMBERS CRUNCHER PLAY OF THE WEEK in the NBA playoffs. You can purchase it with your credit card right here at this website along with my PRIVATE SERVICE PLAY OF THE WEEK in baseball. If you're ready to commit to long terms service through the rest of the NBA playoffs or the full baseball season (where I've started 26-14), call my handicapping office at 1-877-766-8946 for details on the very low prices.

Superstars can have bad days...even superstars in the world of sports handicapping! I can assure you that I'll be delivering this week for my clients in both basketball and baseball. I am THE KING OF LAS VEGAS, and it's a title I live up to day-in and day-out through the sports betting calendar. If you're serious about making money, go to W.A.R alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!


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