As we lay the Miami Heat’s reign to rest, remember that the San Antonio Spurs — this brilliant franchise that makes all the right moves and gets a helpful bit of luck, too — has never won back-to-back titles. Through five championships over 16 seasons, with the team winning 50-plus in every year of the new millennium, with fresh talent augmenting living legends constantly, the Spurs had never even made back-to-back Finals series before this season, let alone won back-to-back titles.
That’s how you can tell some NBA feat is truly difficult: it’s one the Spurs have never accomplished. For the Heat to win two straight titles in 2012 and 2013 is something special.
They were not close to winning a third. After a weird set of games in San Antonio to open the Finals, the Spurs blew out Miami three straight times for the championship. Miami even opened up a ponderous 22-6 lead in the first quarter of Game 5, but the Spurs punch back hard and knocked the Heat out in the third quarter by taking a double-digit lead that thoroughly broke Miami.
The Spurs were so dominant in the series that those arguments about the weak East lining the path to the Finals took on some added credence. The Heat would never have survived the West this season. Part of that is because the West was loaded with quality (again), but the Heat have also gotten worse over the past year. Miami lost Mike Miller in free agency and watched Shane Battier lose his ability to affect a game. Chris Andersen has about three actual jumps in him per game.
And Dwyane Wade — oh, Dwyane Wade. This series was an answer to a question no one knew we had: Did Wade’s frequent, famous rest all season simply mask his age-based regression? The Finals were not kind to Wade — he shot 6-of-24 in Games 4 and 5. That Wade of old (or hell, of last season) — attacking the rim, drawing fouls, drawing attention, making brilliant plays left and right, being a defensive troublemaker — was a shadow, one that mocked the real No. 3 of the now.
The Spurs’ brilliant defense shut down Chris Bosh and made life difficult for LeBron James, the best player in the series/world. But it’s hard to tell how much of Wade’s trouble came from himself and how much stemmed from San Antonio’s schemes, execution and talent. That’s a question Pat Riley and the crew will have to answer in the next couple of weeks and next few years. Wade, like LeBron and Bosh, can opt out of his contract this summer. If he does, how much of a pay cut will the Heat ask him to take in order to add help? Or will the Heat intend to keep him at all?
At the same time as the epochal doubt kicks in, so too does the positive example of the Spurs. How long has the league considered San Antonio dead? Before 2013, the Spurs hadn’t made the Finals since 2007. If there’s an argument that age can be kind to teams run properly, teams that borrow some luck and make plenty of their own … well, that argument is staring the Heat in the face. The Spurs have done what faces the Heat: turning a star-laden team into a dynastic power that lasts almost two decades. With the right moves, Miami can follow San Antonio’s lead.
Until then, all they can do is respect their own accomplishments (including four straight Finals berths and counting), keep LeBron, look at improving the roster around LeBron and wait for the Basketball Gods to smile again. The Spurs have proved that patience is a virtue. There’s still time for Miami.
Just not this year.
Here we go again, two NBA heavyweights throwing down for the championship of the world.
Coming out of the Western Conference wearing black and silver with a regular-season record of 62-20, the four-time world champions coached by Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio “Grump Old Men” Spurs.
Coming out of the Eastern Conference wearing red, black and white with a regular-season record of 54-28, the three-time world champs and current two-time defending titlist coached by Erik Spoelstra, the Miami “Big Three” Heat.
So which team will be left standing to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy?
Will it be LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for a third consecutive season? Remember how we all laughed an rolled our eyes when Miami paraded its new three-headed monster in the summer of 2010? James grabbed the microphone and predicted Miami wouldn’t stop at one world title, “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven … hey, when I say this I really believe it,” James said.
What’s not to believe after the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012 and the Spurs last season? It’s Miami’s fourth consecutive trip to the Finals and there is no reason to believe that streak will end as long as the Big Three stays intact.
For the Spurs, time is running out on Tim “Old Man River Walk” Duncan at age 38. Along with Manu Ginobili (36) and Tony Parker (32), San Antonio features one of the best threesomes in NBA history. The Spurs’ trio has won 114 playoff games, surpassing the Lakers’ 1980s Showtime of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper, which won 110. But the last time the Spurs won the title in 2006-07, Ginobili wasn’t in the starting lineup. The team the Spurs beat? The Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James.
When you open a betting forum you will inevitably come across at least ten topics in which experienced punters are trying to produce a mathematical model predicting the winner in a football match. In this post I will try to express my opinion on how this is simply not possible and how football is not suitable as a sport for creating mathematical models.
The main argument I have against statistical and mathematical models for betting predictions on football matches is related to the very nature of the game. This is a sport in which often a single goal decides the match and with pure statistic it is quite difficult to predict whether any particular shot will be realized as a goal, will be saved by the goalkeeper or will hit the crossbar.
Of course, it’s easy to make statistics on what number of goal attempts are needed to score a goal (in the Premier League statistics show that around 7.5 goal attempts are needed for a goal) , but unfortunately this is not enough to make a really worthwhile betting prediction.
Whichever other item to add to this mathematical model, you again will come to the moment that it is a pure luck will а shot become a goal or not.
The same goes for tennis. We often have matches in which both players have equal number of scored points in the match, but at the end one of them win by 6-4, 6-3. How mathematics or statistics can predict which of them will be the winner?
That’s why I believe the only option in which such statistical models can be successful is when they are applied in sports, where we have many points scored. These are mostly handball and basketball. In these sports the statistics is crucial for each betting prediction and the large number of points scored reduce the element of chance in modeling the stakes.
Cardiff City boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes they can win their battle against Premier League relegation.
His side’s 1-1 draw at home to Stoke leaves Cardiff two points adrift of possible Premier League safety in 18th place with three games to go.
Cardiff’s next match is away to bottom side Sunderland and Solskjaer says it will be like a “cup final”.
“It’s going to be two even teams. They’ve got games in hand so nothing’s impossible for them either,” he added.
“In this league you can beat anyone at anytime if you turn up and the other team is not really at it.
“We’ve just got to be ready for Sunderland.”
The Black Cats made history by inflicting Jose Mourinho’s first home Premier League defeat in 78 games as Chelsea manager in Saturday’s evening game.
That left Sunderland one point behind the Bluebirds, who drew with Stoke earlier in the day.
Before that match Solskjaer said seven points from the Bluebirds’ remaining four fixtures could be enough to secure their top-flight status.
Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic and Cardiff’s Peter Whittingham both scored from the penalty spot in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
Cardiff then had a goal disallowed before Stoke’s Oussama Assaidi was denied by a superb save from goalkeeper David Marshall – and Solskjaer admits Marshall may well have kept alive Cardiff’s hopes of Premier League survival.
“As Assaidi jinked inside of Kevin Theophile Catherine you think that’s it, he’s going to score there because it’s a nailed on 100% chance, but David’s been absolutely phenomenal this season and he’s saved us again today.
“In a split second there you think [our chance to win and stay up is gone] of course.
“But then he saves it, then they have a chance after and it hits the bar and you think you take a point today.”
Cardiff face title-chasing Chelsea on the last day of the season at home but before that comes trips to Sunderland and Newcastle, with Solskjaer targeting six points from the two games in the North East.
First up is Sunderland, who are just one point behind the Bluebirds following their 2-1 win at Chelsea on Saturday.
“It’s going to be tough,” said the Cardiff boss. “It’s a big one for both teams.”
Spread betting options are extremely popular lately as they offer greater opportunities for profit then the so-called fixed odds. It should be noted that this way of betting is also much more risky and can lead to serious losses of money for the players.
The main difference between spread betting and fixed odds is in the fact that when betting on fixed odds the player knows what kind of possible profit or loss he or she will have at the end of the match. However, when betting with spread betting options it won’t be clear until the match is finally over.
This is because unlike betting on fixed odds where the player just says will an event happens or no, in the spread betting stakes the player buys a difference between the actual result and the line previously announced by the bookmaker.
Here is an example of the difference between the two betting option which will make the topic clear.
Let’s have as an example the match between Boston and LA Lakers from NBA. The proposal of the bookies like bet3265, William Hill and bet-at-home for total scored by both teams points is 200.5. So the player must bet will the actual number of scored points be over or under this bookie’s line.
In fixed odds betting, if you bet on Over 200.5 and the match ends with 210 total points scored, for each pledged Euro you will get 1.9 as a win. If the match ends with 230 points scored by both teams you will get the same profit. However, if the match ends with lower than 200.5 total number of scored points, you will lose your bet.
However, in spread betting you buy the difference from the bookmaker line and the actual result. So, here is our example. Let’s say you bet one Euro per point with your bookmaker which could be bet365, William Hill, bet-at-home or someone else. So, if Boston and LA Lakers score 210 points and you have bet for Over, you would win 9 Euro. If both teams score 215 points, your profit would be 14 euros.
Conversely, if you bet on Over 200.5 points, but both teams score 190 points, you would lose 9 Euro. If you have the bad luck and they score just 170 points, your loss would be 29 euros.
This example clearly shows the opportunities that spread betting betting offer, but it also shows the bigger risks, which you also have to calculate when choosing this type of betting.
These days I have convinced myself more and more that I need training for working with Excel. It seems Excel is an essential tool for anyone who has decided to deal seriously with sports betting. This program can not only serve as a simple statistics tool, but it is also useful when you need to extract data from websites to build different betting strategies.
What do I mean? For several months I have been developing two betting systems on football matches and in both cases I got the problem that I have too much time to develop them fully. In both cases, it turns out that I can help myself if know Excel well enough.
The first betting system I talk about is connected with the search for matches where the last few matches played by any of the teams or head to head matches are tied. I look for three or more consecutive draws. For the last twenty days I have checked every morning all matches in the betting coupons and I’ve found 31 bets. 11 matches of these finished with success which gave me a pure profit of 30% from my original bank.
All I need is to learn how to deal with excel, so the program to extract the matches and I don’t need to do it every day.
Another one of my betting systems that I stopped because of too much time invested in it is related to the tracking of football results connected with the odds for a win for the favourites and outsiders. The system is simple. I write down every match of the betting coupons, entering the odds of favourites and underdogs and those for draw. Thus, I make a small database, which when filled with matches shows some really sensitive differences between the odds offered by the betting houses and the actual results.
In this betting system, however, I encountered a problem. I use average odds from more than 100 bookmakers. However, the list of bookmakers in different betting sites is constantly changing, which confuses my database and distorts the results.
It turned out that I could fix this problem again with Excel and use it to sort the most important bookmakers and only import odds that I want. Thus using excel I can continue with my system and achieve the results I want.
I say all this because just minutes ago I downloaded Excel 2007 for dummies and I started reading it. Something I really recommend to anyone who wants to fully deal with betting.
Without any doubt, the most interesting match of the 25th round of the English Premier League will be between the teams of Chelsea and Manchester City. The first against the third in the current standings and most probably the two teams that are the actual candidate to win the Premier League this year, will play against each other on Monday night.
A quick look at the table shows that an eventual victory for City will give them a 6 points gap from Chelsea. This is a margin which 13 rounds before the end of the championship would most probably be decisive.
Jose Mourinho has shown so far that prefers to play safe and without any risk when playing against the top teams. Usually in these matches, Chelsea plays with many players in the midfield, barely allowing the ball to get near to Petr Cech. This solid system has its cons and they are mostly in the fact that the team suffers in the attack, something which is generally a problem for the team from London this year.
Manchester City on the other hand has no problems with their forwards who score near 3 goals per match, although in this match they will most likely play without Sergio Aguero. With that news in hand, it is curious will Manuel Pellegrini choose to play again with two strikers or he will decide to use Negredo or Dzeko as a sole attacker.
Whichever option to choose Pellegrini it is clear that it is unlikely for City to have many goal attempts, given the Chelsea’s ability to defend. All this will make this match even more interesting and difficult for a betting prediction.
Usually in such matches the draw can be the bet, but we must remember the fact that both teams have players who with just a single touch can make the difference. This is why my prediction for the match between Chelsea and Manchester City will be for a draw, but with a small bet.