Saturday, October 31, 2009

Grizzled Performance

I have but a few minutes, so this blog entry may be laden with typos and general grammatical miscues, but it is what it is. Here I sit, safely indoors from the 30mph winds of Southeast Michigan on this cool and damp Saturday morning, waiting for the 9 golfers on the tee sheet to show up and shoot the (pun intended) breeze about the rather unpleasant conditions. I took a peek at the NBA sheet, and with only half the usual number of games, I figured I might be able to pump out a quick entry, and at the same time satisfy my neck-scratching addiction to NBA action.

With expeditious nature, last night's 2-pack broke even, and I must say, I was sorely disappointed. There are time when you break even and consider yourself lucky -- yesterday, I felt like we got robbed of a 2-0 day. Not because of any outside factors, I just still can't get over how horribly the Pacers shot the basketball. They are NOT that bad of a team, and as the illustrious SacLunch pointed out, their mediocre performance will give a decent team added value as a dog in the coming days/weeks, so we'll hop back on them when the time is right. Memphis did give us our sweet victory, and though we took the points (2.5 of them, to be precise), they played well above themselves in disposing of a Raptors team feeling good about themselves after their win over Cleveland. Strangely, despite a slow start (2-4), both of our wins are on games featuring those crazy "eh"-talkin' dinoraptors to the North.

Sports Wagering

Wizards/Nets - Wizards by 7.5 at home with a total of 196.5. Both teams are coming off losses last night, though the Nets fell at home to a powerhouse Magic club, and the Wizards lost on the road to a hyper-athletic Hawks team that plays way over their heads at home. That's why we're seeing the line where it is -- this game is Washington's home opener, and oddsmakers know they're not only the vastly superior club in this matchup, but also will be juiced to play in front of a home crowd that didn't have much to cheer about in recent years (besides DeShawn Stevenson's facial here, which was a feat of modern science). The Nets playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back will be noticeably more sluggish, unable to muster the same gusto the Wizards can, who, as noted, are playing their home opener. I fully expect Washington to dictate the pace of this game, and I fully expect Arenas to bounce back after a clunker in Atlanta. That being said, this game climbs up over that 7 point barrier, which seems to separate the close games from the beatings, and I'm not sure the Nets get blown out. This one will take some further analysis, but at first glance, you have to like the Wizards and the Under (because of the back-to-back dead-leg factor).

Cavs/Bobcats - Two more teams that played last night and won, this line opened at 183 points and Cavs by 13. The line quickly moved to Cavs by 14, and even 14.5 at some books, and who can blame them? Cleveland wants redemption at home after falling to Boston in their season-opener, and the Bobcats blew a double-digit lead to the Knicks, only to win by a deuce in double-OT. Clearly, the Bobcats fatigue factor will factor into the line movement. This game could easily be a 17-18 point Cavs win, and I'd avoid a side involving this many points. The total, however, is intriguing. It moved to 182.5 overnight, and I still think the Under has some value. I expect both teams to come out firing, running on fumes so to speak, then gradually the pace will slow, and the shots will start to draw front-rim. Cavs could potentially hold the Bobcats to a point total in the 70s, though the most likely scenario is a Cavs lows 90's to low 80's victory.

Knicks/Sixers - Philly opened giving 2 points on the road to the Knicks, who finally get to play at Madison Square Garden. Because of Philly's solid win last night and the Knicks 2OT loss, that line has shifted to 2.5, only a very slight adjustment, which does raise some red flags. Oddsmakers seem to think the Knicks have a solid shot of winning this game despite last night's late conclusion. I would lean Philly, based on their improved play in the second half yesterday, and the fact that it's tough to "let down emotionally" at Madison Square Garden. That place has a way of waking teams up, though it may damn well do the same for the home club. This is a line I'd prefer to wait and see how the public picks before making a choice myself, since I think it's a semi-loaded spread. The total of 206 has come down a half point. Here's another place I disagree -- the Knicks have NOT shot the ball well, and they're getting pretty close to being "due", if such a situation does exist. Don't play anything on this game just yet - we'll reapproach it later.

Rockets/Blazers - These two teams get to play twice before most NBA teams have even HAD two games! The Blazers dominated the first meeting, with Houston backdooring a few Portland backers that took that line at the opening mark, while others managed to squeeze out a victory if they waited and got Portland after the line fell a point a half. This one opened with Houston getting 4 points at home and a total of 185.5. The spread has dropped to 3.5 at most books, with a few still stuck on 4 and a few all the way down to 3. I'd say that early movement is pretty surprising, with folks showing great confidence in Houston heading home. This team is fairly devoid of firepower, barely nipping the hapless Warriors in Oakland. Still, the Blazers had an intense home/road split last year, so the thought process is most likely that Portland is ripe for a soggy performance on the road, and Houston will pull up their britches and tickle some strings. The total of 185.5 seems low, and really seems to be begging me to take the Over, and I'm not sure I can argue with it. Houston is going to want to speed things up, get the game into the open court against the bigger, stronger Blazers, and usually the home team dictates the tempo of a game. More on this game later today, as well.

Bucks/Pistons - We're seeing an awful lot of teams on back-to-backs today, and here are two more. This line is currently OFF, but I'll post some thoughts on the game, anyway. Detroit just doesn't have the depth to deal with the Rip Hamilton injury. His ability to get open and drop those medium-range jumpers at a clip usually in the mid-to-high 40% neighborhood just can't be overstated. Simply put, he makes that offense multi-dimensional. As it is, the offense is Ben Gordon. Stuckey isn't good enough to get people open yet, Tayshaun "Pterodactyl" feeds off others (and dumps a 7-foot left-handed hook every once in a while), Ben Wallace has zero offensive skill, and the hairless wonder (Villanueva) doesn't seem to have found his place yet. I think the Bucks bring the heat tonight, and deal the Pistons their second straight loss. Milwaukee is a better team than people realize, suffering through most of last year with their top 2 or 3 players hurt. If I had to guess at an opening line, I would think Bucks favored by 2 or 3, with a total near 194. Let's see what oddsmakers give us.

Spurs/Kings - A laughable point spread of 16 has come down to 15.5, but this is still an enormous number. I'll try to track the mathematics behind it. First, the Spurs are coming off a road loss to the Bulls and will be irritated and angry. Second, Kings played last night, nearly upsetting the Hornets, before falling late. Third, the Spurs beat the Hornets by double digits, and the Hornets beat the Kings by single digits -- it almost seems like oddsmakers employed the transitive property when constructing this hefty line. Fact of the matter is, this early in the season, I have to lean to the team getting 15.5 points. There are just too many ways for a bad team to stay within 15.5 to take the favorite. Even if San Antonio gets out to a 25 point lead, the end of the bench is bound to come in and give back a few. The total in this one is at 198.5, which is extremely high for a Spurs game. The Kings won't be playing much in the way of defense, and I do think this game has a decent shot of going over much like the Spurs first home game.

Clippers/Mavs - The Mavericks got some nice scheduling for their back-to-back, with both games at Staples Center. Last night, Dallas polished off a lackadaisical Lakers squad that might have just received 2009 wake-up call #1. Tonight, Dallas looks to continue the consistency that netted them a win over a quality opponent last night. They're giving 4 points to the Clippers, who have to come back from a 4th quarter collapse in Utah. So, interestingly, the home team has the tougher of the back-to-back schedule. I'm not sure I can legitimately back the Clippers, though they did put up a decent fight through the first 3 quarters against both the Suns and the Jazz. Can they do it again? I'm not sure. The line is showing signs of moving to 4.5, so the early shift to Dallas definitely backs up our confidence in the Mavs. The total for this one is at 196.5, which seems far too high. The Clippers are going to be tired, and with another 0-3 start in the books, I'm just not sure how much mustard this team can bring. They rely heavily on jumpshots, and for teams on the 2nd night of back-to-backs, that's a recipe for disaster.

Fantasy Advice

Brandon Jennings - How about 17 points, 9 boards and 9 assists in his NBA debut? Holy bloody hell.

Brendan Haywood - Two games, two solid point/board efforts from the biggest man in Washington. He is certainly worth a look if you're clinging to deadweight like Ben Wallace or Big Z.

Channing Frye - Very quietly, Frye has assumed the starting Center role in Phoenix by nailing 7 threes in his first 2 games, and picking up some rebounds and steals along the way. He's borderline for 12 team Leagues, definitely valuable in 14+ teamers, and probably not worth a look in 10-team mini-Leagues.

Thought I'd throw some names at you that you might not have expected in the Fantasy Zone. Enjoy the games, and of course, keep an eye on my daily thread for plays and updates!

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