Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 11/20/15

  • November 19, 2015

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just a handful of months ago, the Houston Rockets were playing for the Western Conference title against the Golden State Warriors. Head coach Kevin McHale had been rewarded just a few months earlier with a lucrative three-year contract extension, and all systems seemed to be go in Houston.

Eleven games into the new NBA season and McHale is the first coaching casualty of the new season. The Rockets were clearly not playing well, having lost seven of eleven games, and looking pretty lethargic in some of those losses.

Still, it’s kind of hard to believe Houston GM Daryl Morey would make a radical move like this so quickly, especially given the success the Rockets enjoyed last season. Reaction around the league was swift, with perhaps the strongest comment coming from Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who called the firing “preposterous.” Of course, it should be noted that Carlisle and McHale were teammates three decades ago in Boston.

I don’t think there’s any question that Morey was motivated to can McHale because the players wanted him gone. James Harden, who last spring was raving about how great it was to be playing for McHale, an “actual player to talk to”, apparently no longer felt the same way, and neither did his teammates.

McHale had been critical of the team’s play to date, and openly questioned their effort after a game in which they were blown out by the Celtics after leading big early. It at least seems that the verbal scolding by McHale was not well received by the players, and that Morey decided he’d have to scuttle the coach or risk losing the season in November.

J.B. Bickerstaff is now the interim coach, with the job reportedly his for the remainder of the season. We’ll see how the Rockets respond. They did manage to put together a very impressive rally against Portland last night, eventually winning the game in overtime.

My reaction is simple enough. I’ve never been a fan of allowing the inmates to run the asylum, and it appears that’s the case here. But at the same time, if the coach can’t connect with the players, the GM cannot fire all the players and something has to give. My guess is the Rockets will probably show some life over the next handful of games. But the roster is flawed to begin with, and I don’t have much faith in any team when it becomes clear they’re in charge and the coach probably isn’t.

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2-2 here on Wednesday. Oakland was a college hoops winner, I split a pair of 1H wagers and lost by the hook with the Magic in the NBA.

I’ll likely have two or three college hoops plays tonight, there’s a good chance I’ll have a side in an NHL game, and I won’t be involved in any of the three football games. The weekend college slate is now taking shape with four games standing out to me, and I’ll likely be playing them today. I send out all my selections at the same time I’m making the wagers myself.

For info on how to receive all my games along with a dynamite guarantee, drop me an email at cokin@cox.net.

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Orlando ended top winning in OT on a Fournier trey with just a few seconds remaining. Great shot, but as I was spotting 3.5, a tough result. I’ll go with a huge Saturday college football games for today’s free play.

369 BAYLOR  at  370 OKLAHOMA STATE

Take: BAYLOR PK

The stakes are as high as they get this weekend at Stillwater as Oklahoma State hosts Baylor. The Cowboys are looking to maintain their perfect record as well while also enhancing their chances of being a very big surprise entry in this year’s college football Final Four.

There are two schools of analysis butting heads here. The stats indicate one thing, while the situation would seem to point the other way.

Baylor owns the edge on paper. The Bears have better numbers on both offense and defense, at least in terms of the digits I have a tendency to weigh most heavily. That’s not to suggest Oklahoma State is a fraud as some are saying. I think this is a very solid Cowboys entry, although I’ll agree with the skeptics they’re not quite as good as their current standing in the polls.

The other side of the debate is that Oklahoma State has more to play for than a Baylor team that likely saw any playoff hopes vanish last week when the Bears lost at home to powerful Oklahoma. I’m not putting much stock into the Cowboys barely getting past Iowa State. Oklahoma State was in a sandwich spot to be sure coming off the TCU win with two monster games on deck.

There’s also some history to consider here, as Baylor has had a very tough time of it at in this series. Oklahoma State has won 15 of the last 18 meetings, and the Cowboys own a nifty 13-3-2 ATS slate in those games. So it’s tough to argue against those who are going to make their case for Oklahoma State here.

But I’m one who has a tendency to adhere more to the numbers than the scenario when all the digits indicate the same side. That’s the case for me here. I run several sets of stats when breaking down a game, and in this instance, it’s a unanimous decision. Baylor comes out on top right across the line. It’s not by any means a blowout, but the bottom lines are all Baylor for me.

One intangible that might also point to Baylor is what I like to call the pressure meter. The Bears could be in a down spot mentally, but they’re at least saying all the right things. As for the Cowboys, there’s no doubt about it. They’re the team that now has the proverbial pot of gold staring them in the face. But that can also create a very tight collar situation and I’ll be interested to see how the team responds with all the college football eyes watching.

My choice is to trust the data and also the oddsmakers. Oklahoma State will be getting the bulk of the public dollars here, particularly with the game priced as it is. In games of this magnitude, I’ve never got a problem going the other way if my numbers agree and that’s the case this time. I’m on the Baylor side to ruin the Oklahoma State dream on Saturday.