Category Archives: nba

12 Things You Need to Know Before Betting The 2022 NBA Finals

The matchups are yet to be decided, but here are 12 facts you should know before placing your NBA Finals bets. Some of these little-known facts and figures can be the keys to placing winning bets. But keep in mind, betting lines are subject to change. Online sportsbooks such as BetUS.com update their NBA odds regularly.

1. The winner of Game 1 has claimed the title in 14 of the last 20 NBA Finals.

2. The home team has won Game One in 15 of the last 16 NBA Finals, excluding the 2020 championship, which was played on a neutral court. That trend could continue, so keep an eye on the NBA lines once the Finals are decided.

3. The team with home-court advantage has also won the championship in 14 of the last 20 NBA Finals. Golden State will have home-court advantage no matter its opponent. Dallas would have homecourt advantage over Boston but not Miami.

4. Since the NBA Finals MVP was first awarded in 1969, only two players — Joe White (1976) and Chauncey Billups (2004) — are among eligible players on the outside looking in at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The other 51 are either enshrined, still active or waiting to become eligible. That means the MVP will be: Steph Curry (+225), Jayson Tatum (+250), Jimmy Butler (+550) or Luka Doncic (+650).

5. The East has not had consecutive titles from different teams since Detroit and Chicago won back-to-back championships in 1990 and 1991. The winner of Miami and Boston will try to end that streak after Milwaukee won last year.

6. The last time a team outside the top two seeds represented the West was the 2012 Mavericks, who won the title vs. Miami as a No. 3 seed. The last time a No. 4 seed did the same? The 2008 Mavericks, who lost the championship series to Miami. Could we see a rubber match?

7. The 2008 Celtics were the last No. 1 seed from the East to win a title without LeBron James on their roster. Miami has a chance to change that.

8. The last three head coaches to win NBA titles — Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel and Mike Budeholzer — were all first-timers. Golden State’s Steve Kerr has three titles, and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra has two, while Dallas’s Jason Kidd and Boston’s Ime Udoka are in search of their first rings as head coaches.

9. The average NBA Finals score has leveled out since skyrocketing to 236 points per game in 2017. Averages were about 217 PPG in both 2018 and 2019 before dipping to 214.5 in 2020 and sneaking back up to 221 in 2021. Keep an eye on the totals (or over/unders), as anything outside that range may give you a leg up.

10. Dallas finished 6-2 in the regular season vs. the three other remaining teams. Golden State went 4-4, Boston 3-4 and Miami 2-5.

11. How long will the series last? History says six games is the most likely result. Since the 1976 merger, six series have been 4-0 sweeps, 10 have ended in Game 5 and eight have finished in a do-or-die Game 7. The other 22 went six games.

12. Titles have been relatively even between the two conferences. The West holds a 26-24 advantage over the last 50 championship series, and the last 10 are split evenly at 5-5.

Smart bettors read between the lines, and keeping these twelve little-known stats, facts and figures in mind when laying your NBA Finals bets this year should improve your odds of making a profit as we send this year’s NBA season off to the history books.

Photo Credit: Designed by Freepik

FSM Scouting Report: Wish It Lasted Forever

Book/Movie Title: Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

Total Pages/Duration: 226 (hardcover version)

Author/Director: Dan Shaughnessy

Pace of Play: Just like the 80’s Celtics, this book is fast paced in spurts with most of the action bunched in the middle. Motivated readers (i.e., Boston folks) will finish this in one sitting while most will take 2-3 days.

Strengths: The driving force of this book is the collection of Red Auerbach stories that are peppered in from start to finish. It makes the reader feel like Red is always there and that he could appear at any moment (not too different than his actual behavior).

Weaknesses: The author spends a little too much time talking about himself, his road to working the Celtics Beat, and the good old days of sports journalism (we think the first 40 pages of a 226-page book is too much time). While the book title indicates all stories would flow through Larry Legend, he does not pop up too often. It’s kind of like of all those Netflix movies with Bruce Willis on the movie poster. When you actually watch them, he shows up for about 12 minutes (and they are terrible). It would have been more appropriate to include Red Auerbach in the title of this book. There certainly seem to be more stories about him than Larry Bird.

Photograph by Stan Grossfeld, Boston Globe

Unique Attributes: What this book lacks in new Larry Bird stories it makes up for in tales involving other team members. Bill Walton stories and his relationship to the Grateful Dead were particularly interesting as was learning which 1980’s in-flight movie was playing during various road trips. And perhaps the guiltiest pleasures came when reading about Bill Fitch’s slow demise as head coach. Random factoids are also presented and will keep you engaged. Did you know tanking was an issue way back in 1983? It was and it led to the creation of the lottery which delivered Michael “Air” Jordan to the Chicago Bulls and Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon to the Houston Rockets.   

Scout’s Recommendations: In a recent episode of Family Guy, the lovable Homer Simpson rip-off Peter Griffin had to come to terms with the 80’s being dead. His jokes and gags no longer got laughs and no one understood his dated references. His family begged him to let the 80’s go which he did with some help from John Hughes. Had Dan Shaughnessy seen this episode prior to writing Wish It Lasted Forever, he may not have written it. While very interesting at times, this book seemed like an unnecessary trip down memory lane. Perhaps its creation was brought on by the confines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Or maybe it started as a memoir of sorts, meant to be passed around to old colleagues and basketball insiders. Whatever the reason, reading this book is just another reminder that the 80’s ARE dead. We recommend you skip this one unless you’re a Boston Celtics fan.     

FSM First Look: Jail Blazers

Kerry Eggers, who covered the Trail Blazers, goes back twenty years for the stories from the players, coaches, management, and those in Portland—during an era when the local NBA stars were in the headlines for both their play and their off-court behavior.

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, the Portland Trail Blazers were one of the hottest teams in the NBA. For almost a decade, they won 60 percent of their games while making it to the Western Conference Finals twice. However, what happened off-court was just as unforgettable as what they did on the court.

When someone asked Blazers general manager Bob Whitsitt about his team’s chemistry, he replied that he’d “never studied chemistry in college.” And with that, the “Jail Blazers” were born. Built in a similar fashion to a fantasy team, the team had skills, but their issues ended up being their undoing. In fact, many consider it the darkest period in franchise history.

While fans across the country were watching the skills of Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, and Zach Randolph, those in Portland couldn’t have been more disappointed in the players’ off-court actions. This, many have mentioned, included a very racial element—which carried over to the players as well. As forward Rasheed Wallace said, “We’re not really going to worry about what the hell [the fans] think about us. They really don’t matter to us. They can boo us every day, but they’re still going to ask for our autographs if they see us on the street. That’s why they’re fans and we’re NBA players.”

While people think of the Detroit Pistons of the eighties as the elite “Bad Boys,” the “Jail Blazers” were actually bad. Author Kerry Eggers, who covered the Trail Blazers during this controversial era, goes back to share the stories from the players, coaches, management, and those in Portland when the players were in the headlines as much for their play as for their legal issues.

FSM First Look: Unguarded by Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen has been called one of the greatest NBA players for good reason.

Simply put, without Pippen, there are no championship banners—let alone six—hanging from the United Center rafters. There’s no Last Dance documentary. There’s no “Michael Jordan” as we know him. The 1990s Chicago Bulls teams would not exist as we know them.

So how did the youngest of twelve go from growing up poor in the small town of Hamburg, Arkansas, enduring two family tragedies along the way, to become a revered NBA legend? How did the scrawny teen, overlooked by every major collegiate basketball program, go on to become the fifth overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft? And, perhaps most compelling, how did Pippen set aside his ego (and his own limitless professional ceiling) in order for the Bulls to become the most dominant basketball dynasty of the last half century?

In Unguarded, the six-time champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist finally opens up to offer pointed and transparent takes on Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Dennis Rodman, among others. Pippen details how he cringed at being labeled Jordan’s sidekick, and discusses how he could have (and should have) received more respect from the Bulls’ management and the media.

Pippen reveals never-before-told stories about some of the most famous games in league history, including the 1994 playoff game against the New York Knicks when he took himself out with 1.8 seconds to go. He discusses what it was like dealing with Jordan on a day-to-day basis, while serving as the facilitator for the offense and the anchor for the defense.

On the 30th anniversary of the Bulls’ first championship, Pippen is finally giving millions of adoring basketball fans what they crave; a raw, unvarnished look into his life, and role within one of the greatest, most popular teams of all time.

FSM Editorial: Top 5 Reasons LeBron Ain’t Trump

Sports shock jock (and professional LeBron hater) Jason Whitlock made a big fuss about King James recently, comparing him to the president and calling him “Black Trump”. Whitlock pointed to a few similarities between Lebron and the Donald (mostly the incoherent curse-filled tweeting) but presented a pretty weak case overall. Keep in mind, Whitlock recently left Fox Sports because they wouldn’t pay him so he may just be trying to be extra provocative to generate buzz for himself (insert sarcastic shocked face emoji here).

Here is a taste of Jason Whitlock’s comments:

“LeBron fashions himself as a dignified statesman, role model, political activist and champion of racial equality. He is every bit as crude, undignified and inarticulate as our sitting president.”

To read the full editorial originally posted on OutKick, click here.

Now then, being the sports junkies that we are, we thought we’d do a little counter punching on the King’s behalf. Free Sports Mag is not a political publication in any sense so please read the following Top 5 Reasons LeBron Ain’t Trump as if you were reading The Onion or MAD Magazine.

5. Lebron James has 3 children with the same woman

4. Blaze Pizza > Trump Steaks

3. Lebron James has never been bankrupt

2. I Promise School > Trump University

1. Lebron James is a billionaire   

FSM Books: Coach Wooden and Me

People who say that sports don’t matter aren’t paying attention. From a practical standpoint alone, sports on all levels contribute to local, national, and global economies in many ways. But let’s forget about practicality for a moment and let’s talk about magic. Magic is when people who don’t have much in common come together in pursuit of a collective goal. In sports, this pursuit often plays out in front of teammates, classmates, friends, and fans. While the ultimate goal itself may be simple (i.e., “Just win baby”), the highs and lows experienced by participants and onlookers along the way are where the magic lies.

In Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recounts a friendship with UCLA coach John Wooden that spanned the course of five decades. His effort is thoughtful and beautiful and is an example of why sports do matter. Abdul-Jabbar details his time in college and the slow-burning friendship that developed with Wooden over the years. It is clear from the onset that these two men would have never met if not for the common goal of winning basketball games. That’s not meant to be negative, just reality. But thanks to sports, they did meet and the masses are better off because of it.

Kareem’s story mostly alternates between old and more current anecdotes. Despite the gap in time between each story, the book still feels like it’s being rolled out in chronological order. Captain Skyhook does a phenomenal job of connecting the past and present. The reader is never left questioning why two events occurring so far apart in time were mentioned as part of the same thought.

In public, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s temperament is more Shrek than superstar. That’s what makes much of the material in this book so intriguing. Abdul-Jabbar reveals new information and covers a wide range of topics that influenced him as an individual. Of course, John Wooden is somehow connected to all of it and it’s special to learn how Kareem’s friendship with him evolved over time.

It would be misleading to say this book is only about the friendship between these two men. Kareem also discusses factors in his formative years that led him to move to California and enroll at the University of California Los Angeles. He discusses finding his voice socially, morally, and politically. In fact, one of the greatest stories in Coach Wooden and Me involves Kareem and a teammate talking about religion on a bus ride back from a game. At the end of the discussion, Kareem “comes out” as being Muslim and in short, no one really cares. The magic of sports.

Perhaps the most impactful, if not infuriating anecdote involves a woman calling Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the n-word in front of Coach Wooden. Abdul-Jabbar describes a shell-shocked Wooden who seemed unsure how to react. The lack of a reaction was not because Coach was too afraid to confront the woman but because he was genuinely shocked things like this blatantly occurred. Many adjectives can be used to describe John Wooden but one would never dream that naïve would be on that list. The incident so bothered Coach Wooden that he still felt the need to bring it up to Kareem many years later.

While the unfortunate incident mentioned above happened in the 1960s, it remains relevant today. Think of all the kind, honest, and decent people that exist out there that possess this same naïveté. There is a tendency to believe what we believe until something shatters that belief. When something is so bad that a good person can’t imagine it happening, that person will just assume it doesn’t happen. This incident was perhaps the most heartbreaking part of Coach Wooden and Me. It was tough to see a legend like Wooden be so vulnerable…so human.

Coming in at 279 pages, the hardcover edition of this book should be an easy, enjoyable read for avid and fringe sports fans. Besides talking hoops, Abdul-Jabbar dives into jazz, religion, politics, race, poverty, and many other relevant social issues, all the while connecting them to the legendary coach. This is perhaps Abdul-Jabbar’s greatest accomplishment – writing a book about John Wooden while talking mostly about himself.

FSM Final Grade: A