Monday, November 23, 2009

Don with a Silent "P"

There were four NBA games last night, but the big news out of the National Basketball Association is that the Golden State Warriors have been hit by another situation. No, Monta Ellis didn't get into an altercation with Stephen Curry; no, Corey Maggette's hamstrings didn't suffer their usual mid-season detachment; and no, they didn't figure out a way to get Stephen Jackson BACK. This time, the Warriors have come face to face with their arch nemesis.

Pneumonia.

Don Nelson will not be traveling with the team for the foreseeable future, and Coach-in-Training Keith Smart will assume coaching duties for the time being. It has long been assumed that Smart would be the Head Coach of the Warriors following Nelson's tenure, which, according to his contract, isn't done for another 2 seasons. I'm not one to make predictions of firings, since I generally think it's in poor taste, but I think it may be time for Nelson to step down. He seems to hate his current job, and his presence just seems to be a continual rub the wrong way for the team and its fans. Plus, who would really want to be stuck in that chaos?

Sports Wagering

Raptors/Pacers - Toronto by 5 at home with a very high total of 214. In an effort to make these writeups a little more organized, I'll try to analyze things, one team at a time. We'll start with the road club, the Pacers. Indiana won 5 straight games, but that seems like a distant memory now. They have lost their last 3, a streak that started when Indy blew a 19-point lead to the Knicks, and continued with a 10-point defeat at the hands of the Cavs, and topped off by an 18-point clubbing by the Bobcats. The Pacers' offense seems to be regressing a tad, and what's worse is that their rebounding has gone down the drain, as well. You just have to wonder if perhaps Granger is dealing with his nagging injury issues again. Whatever you decide on that front, Indiana is not doing anything to inspire confidence, as they're allowing an absolute ton of points, and failed to break 100 in the losses to Cleveland and Charlotte. Toronto is coming off a home loss to Orlando, but Orlando remains one of the best road teams in the League, and Toronto is still a solid home team (4-2 at home, 2-6 on the road). Toronto's biggest issue is their defense, which leads me to believe that this game might actually go Over the posted total. Indiana has been missing shots, and some wide open looks might be just what the doctor ordered. Still, when people see these two offensive-minded teams squaring off, the first thought is "high scoring". My favorite lean on this game is on Toronto to cover.

Wizards/Sixers - This line is OFF. And for my money, this game is off. The Wizards breathe a sigh of relief getting home after a hugely disappointing 0-2 short roadie through Oklahoma and San Antone'. This will be an interesting spot for them. Washington has looked better offensively with Antawn Jamison back in the lineup, but got completely shut down away from home, and you wonder how much of that is a road slump, and how much is the backlash from Antawn's monster debut in the home win over the Cavs. The Wizards are a sad 3-9 so far, though this team is obviously better than that record would indicate. Their biggest problem remains falling in love with jumpshots. They have the personnel to take the ball to the basket and create open looks and layups, but yet they seem fully pleased to fire away from the elbow and out. The Sixers have even bigger issues, though the 5-8 would seem to indicate they're somehow better than Washington. Both of these teams have the talent to succeed, with Washington boasting a solid 3-star core, and Philly touting Iguodala and Elton Brand. While Washington's issue is shot selection, Philly's is defense. They tried to out-run opponents, and couldn't score enough, then they tried to slow things down and couldn't defend quite well enough, and now they're letting Elton Brand get his basketball legs back, and hoping for the best. Philly's 2 road wins this year came at New Jersey and at New York, and I believe Washington wins this game by a narrow margin with a total near 195.

Mavericks/Warriors - This line is OFF, too. Very frustrating time to handicap an NBA card, since tomorrow's 6-game card has just 3 lines out, and of those 3, two (as you'll soon see) are huge. In this one, we figure to see another rather beefy line, with Dallas bringing a 5-game winning streak into a contest against the team that ran them out of the playoffs a few years back. Still, Don Nelson was the true mastermind behind that upset, and his pneumonia could have an impact on this game. Will his inability to coach bring the Warriors youngsters together, or will his absence leave the team without the proper tools for trying to take down this Mavs team that Nelson helped build. The Mavs are getting a ton of open shots, but this game will force them to run a little, and I'll be curious to see how this team performs. This is the type of matchup where we'd normally see a Josh Howard just dominate. Athletic wing guys can break down the Warriors flimsy defense much easier than an aging distributor (Jason Kidd) or a 7-footer that prefers the fade-away jumper (Dirk), no matter how skilled he may be. Will the Warriors make shots, though? Golden State is coming off a nice home upset of the Portland Trailblazers, and so far, the departure of Stephen Jackson seems to have helped this team. They're not winning every night, but they've covered 5 straight spreads, and this one may be number 6, depending on the line. I expect to see the Mavs open as double-digit faves, and I think the Warriors might be worth a very small wager. I expect a total near 210.

Nuggets/Nets - One of two colossal mismatches on tomorrow's card, with the Nuggets favored by 14.5 at home with a total of 203. First thing that jumps out at me is the thought, "How many points will the Nuggets need to score if the Nets can't break 90?" The answer is at least 113. Let's look at some recent games to see if this makes any sense. For one, the Nugget beat the Nets by 28 points in New Jersey earlier this year, which definitely gives a little precedent for taking the Nuggets to cover this monster line. In actuality, this is the type of spread where a wise man would probably look at the total or nothing at all. The last two straight Nuggets games have hit a total of 205, but digging deeper we find a little more key info. The Nuggets really get caught up in the wildness of games in their home building, and try to run opponents out of town. They know they have the advantage with the thin air factor, so the faster the game in Denver, the better the Nuggets' chances of dominating. In fact, while Denver games have averaged a total of around 209 on the season, home games have seen 220 points, on average. Also, Denver has been winning at home by a margin of 16.4, so we definitely see some keys that point to Denver and an Over. Still, those scream public choice, so let's take a peek at the line, and if nothing gives us cold chills, then perhaps we can move on it. We haven't really broken down New Jersey, and that's because we really don't know what to expect. Devin Harris is back, but he's not at full strength, so the expectation is that the Nets will try to keep the game relatively slow. I'm just not sure they can have that kind of impact on the tempo of the game, not when Denver will take every defensive rebound and ram it down the Nets' throats. Eventually, you'll have to score to keep up, and we'll see the quarter by quarter total swell. Oh, and the Nets are 0-13. Yowza.

Jazz/Thunder - The third and final OFF line of the night. Oddsmakers need to just make some damn lines for us to analyze! This one is a tough one to break down. The Jazz are suddenly a game over .500 on the season at 7-6 (I know, that blew my mind, too), having won 3 straight, including their first win in a decade in San Antonio, and home wins over the Pistons and Raptors. The wins aren't the most impressive I've ever seen, but for Jazz team that appeared to be spiraling a bit just a couple weeks ago, 3 straight wins over anyone is a great success. Maybe more appropriate (and why betting the first few weeks of the season is always dicey), the Jazz are now 4-2 at home, and 3-4 on the road. Ah, sweet normalcy. The Thunder are all over the place, re-complicating matters. They've been alternating terrible games and great ones, getting blasted in LA in their most recent tilt just 2 days after blowing Washington out at home. By that pattern, they're on pace for a good game, but I'm just not sure I see them getting it done in a very difficult road venue. The Thunder feel ripe for another loss, here, but the spread is clearly going to play a large role. I suspect the Jazz will open as 7 point favorites with a total just under 190. More to come.

Lakers/Knicks - Lakers by 13.5 with a total of 210. Sometimes the world just doesn't want you to bet on a particular sport on a particular day. Huge lines and OFF lines have me frustrated, since I missed out on Monday's card (aside from a small play on Minnesota at the last moment) due to travel across this fine nation. The Lakers have been extremely streaky against the spread. 6-7 on the year, but the way they got there is the real key here. The Lakers lost their first 5 against the spread, won 3, lost 2, and have won the last 3. So, as you can see, LA has followed any W and any L ATS with another one. Unfortunately, that doesn't set us up very well for this one. They've won their last 3 games by 13, 15, and 16 points, and those games came against Detroit, Chicago and Oklahoma. Those big wins have given us the monster line we're seeing now. On the other side, believe it or not, the Knicks have actually been playing "marginal" basketball, winning 2 of 3, and taking Boston to OT before losing on a KG buzzer-beater. Generally, I like to fade teams after losing a heart-wrenching game, but I get the feeling the Knicks are using all 3 of their recent games, wins and loss, as building blocks. They didn't go into that game expecting to win, but they played well enough to do so. The Lakers' massive size advantage is going to make this one impossible, I would think, for the Knicks to win outright, but if Al Harrington continues to drain threes, the Knicks can hang in there. Time will tell. The total of 210 feels pretty accurate, though I do get the feeling the Lakers have the personnel to shut down the Knicks. This total AND side will depend almost entirely on whether New York can hit a few outside shots.

Fantasy Advice

Greg Oden - I mentioned much earlier that his production would skyrocket playing with Andre Miller, and it truly has. Oden has become a dunk and layup machine, and he's hitting his free throws, as well. One of the best FG% and block specialists in fantasy sports right now on a very good basketball team.

2 comments:

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Danno said...

Seriously, every post now?

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