Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to the ABA

I'm not sure there's much I can say about the New Jersey Nets that hasn't already been covered by every available news media outlet, so my vote is to send them to another League. Isiah Thomas already ran the CBA into the ground, so suggestions are welcome.

Because, I mean, really, this is getting embarrassing. This team should have found a way to win one by now. There are some good teams in the NBA to be sure, but a month into the season you need to find a way to back into a win, if nothing else. They have an All-Star point guard in Devin Harris, who, admittedly, hasn't been healthy, but also hasn't been doing anything when he's been on the court. They have a few decent role players in Bobby Simmons and Trenton Hassell, and picked up a solid young hard-nose type from the Magic named Courtney Lee, and the Nets have arguably the best 2nd-year Center in the NBA. I'd argue the Timberwolves are worse than the Nets. That team is Al Jefferson and 11 role-players getting more minutes than they deserve. But yet, the Nets are 0-16, 5-11 ATS, and there ain't much light ahead, at least not for another week.

New Jersey travels to Madison Square Garden on December 6 for a rematch with the Knicks, the next game this team has a chance to win, and I, for one, will be rooting for them like crazy.

Sports Wagering

Wizards/Bobcats - This line is OFF, but we can talk quite a bit about these teams based on their performances the previous day. Both teams won, in short. Washington went into Miami, and just as I noted in yesterday's blog, beat up on a suddenly overrated Miami Heat club to the tune of a 10-point road win, and a 17-point cover as a dog. The Wizards didn't give us much reason to trust them, but the Heat getting that win over the Magic was the best thing that could have happened for yesterday's line. The Wizards getting a win over the Heat should have very little impact on the line for this game. I think Charlotte's 3-straight home wins should have a much greater impact. Charlotte is a better-than-average 6-2 at home, but remains winless on the road at 0-7. For this reason, I expect to see the Wizards favored by a small spread, something in the 3-5 range, and I'm going to have a very tough time picking a side. The value is going to be with the Wizards, who are playing much better with a healthy Nick Young in the lineup at shooting guard, but the Bobcats are finding a way to get it done, and I'm suddenly concerned they'll actually scrap out a win on the road. Still, if you can't win at Philly, I'm not sure you can win in Washington. I also expect to see a total in the low 190's. I lean slightly to the Wizards, though we obviously need a line to move forward, and I also lean slightly to the Under.

Cavaliers/Mavericks - Cleveland favored by 7.5 at home to the Mavs with a total of 196. I am in stark disagreement with this line, and my job is going to be to determine if it's a trap or a mistake. The Cavs come home off an embarrassing loss in Charlotte, and trying to figure out how to incorporate Shaq back into the lineup. I really don't think it's a coincidence that this team lost in the Diesel's first game back with the team. He is a defensive liability due to his lack of speed, and he slows down the offense by forcing his teammates to feed him in the post even when he doesn't have the best position. I honestly believe Dallas to be a better team than Cleveland, and with both teams on the second night of a back-to-back here, and Dallas having won their first 2 games on the current road trip, it seems odd to see the Cavs handing out this many points. Clearly, there's something I'm missing about the Mavs. It's not a very long road trip, so I don't think this team is going to be gassed; their next game is at home against the Sixers on Monday, so it's not a look-ahead spot, and the Cavs looked confused and out of sync against the Bobcats. You'd normally figure the public would go crazy for a very good team getting 7.5 points, but let's wait and see where this goes first thing, and react. The total of 196 feels too high with the way Shaq should keep things nice and slow, but then, we only got an Under in last night's Cavs game because of a hideous 4th quarter. Lean to Dallas, pending line analysis tomorrow, and no real lean on the total.

Jazz/Blazers - Jazz by 4 with a total of 186. How about the Memphis Grizzlies, rolling into Portland as a double-digit dog and winning the game outright? The Grizz got off to a raucous start, and the Blazers could never quite make up the ground, and now they have to head to Utah to finish up the back-to-back in a pretty tough spot. Utah is coming off a beating of the Chicago Bulls, a game that stayed Under the total only because the Jazz made so many shots the Bulls could never get out on a break and get an easy score. The Jazz shot over 60%, getting carried by some absurdly successful nights from their 2 stars, even the one that doesn't want to be there. Scoring against the Blazers probably won't be so easy, but I really don't like this spot for Portland. The big, bad Blazers are a better road team this year than in year's past, but tired from a pretty bad home loss to Memphis is just not the way you want to face the methodical Jazz, who have quietly won 4 of 5. I also think there's a little value in the low total of 186. The Blazers have been scoring more since Brandon Roy took control of the game, though the poor road shooting of his teammates might hold this one Under. Lean to the Jazz, ultra-weak lean to the Over.

Bucks/Magic - Milwaukee getting 6.5 at home with a total of 193. Believe it or not, I see this line and I like the Bucks. I simply love that the Bucks struggled mightily on their recent road trip, since it only creates value for them coming home. This team is a trademark home/road splitter, as Milwaukee is 6-1 at home and 2-5 on the road. Still, coming home off a truly fatiguing road trip is rarely a time to want to back a team with your life savings. This is a spot where I'd like to give them one game to adjust to getting back home, then we can hit them hard in Monday's game against the Bulls, assuming they don't blow out the Magic and lose all their value. In terms of Orlando, I'm just not that concerned with how they've been playing -- this team is good, and they're just as good on the road as at home. Dwight Howard woke up from his 2-week stupor to blast the Hawks in a big win, and he could certainly do the same to the Bucks undersized frontcourt. Despite the line's value on Milwaukee, this is a play on Orlando or none at all. The total of 193 is very sharp, in my opinion.

Warriors/Lakers - This game should actually be pretty fun, as the Warriors get 8.5 points at home to the LakeShow with a total of 218. The Lakers covered 3 of the 4 games against the Warriors last year, which definitely shows they're not afraid to speed the game up and still enjoy themselves. That's the beauty of the Lakers, and why they can win championships lately; they can win almost any type of game, if rested. Interestingly, this total of 218 matches the lowest total of any of the 4 meetings last year. Is this the oddsmaker's reaction to the Warriors getting too many minutes and potentially suffering from a case of the bricks? These teams combined for games of 243, 220, 235 and 220 again last year, so it does strike me as a tad strange to see a line beneath all four of those. In fairness, though, the Lakers are playing better defense this year, or at least it appears that way because they blow teams out more often, but they have yet to cover a spread on the road (0-3 ATS), so why the 8.5 points? Are the Warriors really so bad that they deserve almost double digits on their home court, a pretty wild building when the Warriors actually win games? I'm not sure they are. I lean to Golden State to cover in this one, but I'd wait to buy on this one since the public is likely to give the Lakers their weekly earnings. If the line comes down, then we'll get confirmation on a Warriors play. I also lean weakly to the Over.

Fantasy Advice

Nick Young - A key addition to the Wizards rotation, and a prime scorer. Need points, get Young.

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