Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Faster Than a Speeding Wizard

How much better is this Washington team with a healthy Antawn Jamison? I mean, my goodness! That game was not just a win over the Cavs, that was a beating.

Jamison probably won't have 31 points every night (on 12-of-22 shooting), but he's always been good for near 20 points and near 10 rebounds, and like I've been saying since the season started, this Wizards team doesn't have a chance without the versatile Jamison. Most folks don't realize just how effective he is. His odd release makes him extremely difficult to defend inside, and he can also step out and hit the three. Oh, and his nose for the ball gets him 8-10 easy rebounds every time out.

Now the Wizards don't have to rely solely on outside jumpers, and their opponents suddenly have to respect one guy in particular moving towards the hoop, which should not only help build confidence (and make the rim look bigger to everyone), but also free up the outside shooters by those ever-important couple inches that change a hotly contested jumper into a shot-with-a-defender-running-at-you.

In other news, lightning struck in Indiana and the Knicks rallied from 19 down to win by 7 in a most improbable turn of events. Not too many people to blame in this one besides the Pacers, who just kept fouling, and you wonder if tired legs from the back-to-back made the difference with the Knicks coming off half a week without game action. The sharps finally got a Knicks game right, and of course, it was the one I was on the other side - hah!

Sports Wagering

Hornets/Suns - Suns laying 6 on the road to the reeling Hornets, who DID, in all fairness, beat the reeling'er Clippers, with a total of 217.5. This line looks way too easy, but I've thought that about Phoenix before, and they end up covering just about every time that's been my initial thought. Phoenix was unilaterally loathed by the Wiseguys in their last game in Houston, and as you heard on the Pregame.com daily Podcast "Today in Sports Betting," that line moved 2 points AGAINST heavy public money on Phoenix, and it moved EARLY. I'm not sure the sharps are going to be as quick to take New Orleans here, as Houston is a more respected team, and the Hornets are not only without their ALL-WORLD point guard, they're also without an identity. I'm just not sure I'm ready to load up on the home dog here, and Phoenix doesn't play again until the 22nd, so they can really go all out in this game that should see them overwhelm the lowly Hornets. New Orleans has been trying to increase their tempo since they really don't have the weapons to score consistently in the half court, and as a result, I'm leaning hard to Phoenix, and slightly to the Over, and yes, I feel like a public sort on this one. Oh, and I think I'm going to start ranking my leans (on a confidence scale from 1-to-5, NOT to be misinterpreted for units) for the world to see, and to save me a few lines on my scratch papers. The lean to Phoenix is a 3.5, and the Over is a 2.

Spurs/Jazz - Should be a fun one with both teams on the second half of a back-to-back. Spurs are currently favored by 7.5 with a total of 202. The Spurs, by the way, are also one of the oldest teams in the NBA, and appear to have lost Manu Ginobili during tonight's game to a groin injury. This would be a marvelous time to grab Jazz +7.5, since at the very worst, the reaction to Manu's injury should force this line down -- not substantially, but not zero. In terms of the actual game, before the Spurs injuries continued to snowball, I really liked them to get it done at home. Instead, they'll be without their two most electric players (Parker and Ginobili), and will have to rely on some old school half-court offense and defense to win. The Jazz, meanwhile, are all over the map, pulling off a nice 13-point win over Toronto, and the Raptors' Magical Disappearing Defense. This is a very tough travel schedule for the Jazz, but if they're the healthier team, which they seem to be, that should help a great deal in this back-to-back. Forget leans - I recommend grabbing the Jazz before the line adjusts to injuries or worse, goes OFF altogether. The total feels awfully high with both teams tired, and the Spurs without their two best pace-setters. The Jazz play a quick game, but the Spurs are going to try to keep tomorrow's game in the 180's, so I issue a level-2 lean to the Under.

Lakers/Bulls - The Lakers are favored by 9.5 at home with a total of 191, a mismatched line. With a total this LOW for the Lakers, you'd figure that means Chicago is going to be slowing the tempo, but yet we see the Lakers are expected to win this thing by double digits. Chicago is coming off a dominant performance against the streaking Sacramento Kings, but is a team that has seemed to play to the level of their competition. This has led to an absolute ton of close games. The big line here should get a fair amount of money on the Bulls, though the public will probably still side with the Lakers, if not because of Kobe, then because they expect to get Pau Gasol back tomorrow for his first game action of the year. It's not clear how many minutes he'll go, and I wouldn't expect him to exceed 24-25 with a tender hamstring, but even a rusty Gasol gives the Lakers a HUGE boost in the interior. The Lakers are, once again, one of the biggest teams in the NBA. They are also probably the deepest frontcourt in the League, too. Andrew Bynum has emerged as a legitimate top-5 center, Pau Gasol is an All-Star at power forward, Ron Artest has lost a step since 2005, but he's still probably among the 3 or 4 strongest small forwards currently employed, and then there's 6'10", rangy lefty Lamar Odom, who might be the most versatile player on the entire TEAM. Yikes. This is a great game for us to watch line movement. My early lean is for the Bulls to keep this thing within striking range, since, as noted, they seem to play UP against good teams, and I also think the low total would seem to indicate that they'll do a decent job on defense, though it's pretty tough to slow the Lakers for 48 minutes. Level-2 lean to the Under, and level-3 lean to the Bulls

Fantasy Advice

Larry Hughes - Just a huge game, though that means he won't have another for a couple weeks. My recommendation, let some other chump pick him up, drop him 4 days from now, THEN pick him up just in time for his next decent game.

Elton Brand - Obviously, he's not a pick-up, but damn if he didn't break out of his slump in a BIG WAY tonight. 19 points, 11 boards, 2 assists, 3 steals and SIX blocks! Sell high? Nah, I'd rather just let him stomp for a little while, THEN sell high.

Chris Douglas-Roberts - You were warned. He's destroying, and you may have missed your chance with this second monster performance in a row. 31 points, 10 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals, a 3-pointer, and 12/14 at the foul line.

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