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Posted by Brian Mulligan on 1/12/2011 10:56:52 AM

They say everybody loves a parade but for the true consumer, everybody loves freebies, whether they come in the form of buy one, get one free, or something like a free perk from your cable company for long-term loyalty.

In the National Basketball Association, getting to and converting from the free throw line is something that is often misunderstood and underestimated as far as what it takes to win games night after night.

When thinking about what getting to the free throw line is all about, the first thing that comes to mind is aggressiveness.

A team that refuses to settle to jack the ball up from long range and continues to push the ball and go to the hoop will not only be rewarded by getting to the line but they will also be rewarded by the referees for being the non-fouling aggressor.

The other thing that shooting free throws does is it helps in the overall scheme of defense because the other team cannot get out and run on the break.

It helps team get back into a solid defensive stance without having to get caught in transition and a little thing like that can be the difference between a successful season and a year that is full of disappointment.

First let’s take a look at some of the weaker teams in the league as far as free throws are concerned.

The Golden State Warriors are in the bottom half of the league as far as wins through their first 36 games as everybody that plays them know they will try to run you out of the gym and attempt to have Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis shoot the lights out.

As a result, the Warriors are the worst in the league with only 21 free throw attempts a game and there are only 5 teams in the league that shoot a worst percentage from the line too.

The worst is, imagine this, the Los Angeles Clippers, who only get the ball into the hole with the free shot at a 68% rate.

The best team in the league getting to the 15-foot mark is the Denver Nuggets at 31.3 free throw shots a contest.

It shows up immediately into total points scored as only the New York Knicks at 108 put up more points on a nightly basis.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, who are tied for 6 with the most wins in the league after 37 games, shoot 30 free throws a night, make the most at 25 and therefore their free throw percentage is a league best at .833.

The Thunder have only played defense in spurts and play much better against the weaker teams but when they get good production across the board from their team, it will only make them a legit threat in the post season.

An overachieving team that bettors should watch as the season unfolds is the Portland Trailblazers.

They are in the higher echelon of the league despite all the injuries they have had this year and when they get to the line, they convert to the tune of .791.

The most astute bettors in the game also know that Portland is very tough in their home Rose Garden as they covered 10 of their first 15 at home this season.

Bottom line: pay attention to the teams that get to the line and are accurate when they get there.



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