Sunday, November 22, 2009

For the Six People Watching NBA Tonight

I realize this blog will probably get a "view" number in the teens with everyone focused on MNF, but there are indeed four NBA games, and it's my sworn duty to take a peek at them for everyone's enjoyment.

Sports Wagering

Grizzlies/Kings - This line is OFF. My thoughts on the matchup, though, might give us a few angles to play once we get a line. Unfortunately, I'll be traveling most of tomorrow (Detroit to LA, Thanksgiving duty calleth), so I may not be able to land and get internet access in time to post follow-up notes on this game. Both of these high-scoring teams have recently begun to execute much better. They are both coming off a loss (or multiple losses, if you're Sacramento), but really, the Kings' effort can't be faulted. They've lost 3 straight, and while the home double-digit clunker to the Bulls was less than stellar, the gritty road losses to both Dallas and Houston showed that this Kings team has moxie, with or without Kevin Martin. I was right in one respect, that the Kings would finally lose one game, then a few more losses would follow, but I was wrong in another regard, in that I felt they would fail to cover the spread in those losses, since the win-streak would likely shift public perception and alter the lines. The Kings are covering machines right now. The Grizzlies have a ton of talent, and it seems to have taken a couple weeks, but they're starting to execute a little bit more on defense, and have seen their results improve as a result. They beat some lowly competition for 3 straight wins, but you still have to be better than 3 teams in the League to have a 3-game winning streak, and that's what we saw. The Grizzlies started off strong at home in their last game, too, but saw Milwaukee come back and win it late. This game is another home contest for Memphis, and I think oddsmakers feel these teams are pretty closely matched, with the edge, I would figure, going slightly to Memphis, for an opening line in the neighborhood of 4 or 5. I would lean Kings to keep this one close, since I don't see either team playing well enough to run away. The total is going to open over 200, no question, though Memphis, again, has been playing better defense, so I'd lean to a total near 207 or 208.

Spurs/Bucks - San Antonio by 9 at home with a total of 193. This side is too high, no question. There are times when we see a huge line that is baiting folks into taking the dog, but I believe this line is just the same thing we've seen all year, and that is a severe underrating of the Milwaukee Bucks, who just continue to play games that make Scott Skiles look like the smartest coach in the League. San Antonio got Tony Parker back, and they played a solid all-around game against the Wizards, but Washington is still adjusting to having Antawn Jamison back, and while they did trounce the visiting Cavaliers 3 games back, the Wiz ALWAYS play the Cavs tough. Make no mistake, the Wizards are improving, but San Antonio's drubbing of them is less an indicator of San Antonio's skill, and more an indicator of Washington's over-reliance on the outside shot. Milwaukee, on the other hand, runs a clever offense, and plays excellent team defense. Skiles has stockpiled guys like Mbah a Moute, Ilyasova, Delfino, and others that are all excellent wing defenders. I also like that the Bucks have one of the few guards (Jennings) in the NBA that can match speeds with Tony Parker. That's not to say he can guard him, but he has a better chance to stay in front of Tony, and then make him work hard on the defensive end. I think Milwaukee keeps this thing close until pretty late. I think the total is spot on. Milwaukee is not a high-scoring team, though they may try to push the pace a bit, and I'd lean just a nip to the Over.

Blazers/Bulls - Portland laying 8.5 to the struggling road-weary Bulls with a total of 180. This total has already moved up a point from the opening line of 179, which I find rather puzzling, given that both of these teams are slower than molasses. Perhaps it's a situation where you get two ultra-defensive minded teams together, and the team with less size and less talent (Bulls) tries to make sure they don't get crushed by running and gunning. The Bulls certainly have the personnel to make some headway running the ball up and the court. Despite the Bulls potential to try to speed this thing up, I still see Portland dominating the game, and I just can't picture Chicago bouncing back after getting hammered both in LA and Denver. That team has to be a bit rattled, really getting taken to school by two of the best teams in the NBA. Chicago needs home cooking or a game against a bad team right now, and this is not the night for it. I would lean to the Blazers to continue to make Chicago look bad on this roadie. I also think that despite Portland picking up the pace a little in the second half, they will go back to slowing things down. I have a TINY lean to the Under, but with McMillan's choice to let Brandon Roy run the offense, I'm not sure if we see this team push the pace just a little bit more than usual, since he can just take the ball into the paint and make things happen by himself.

Clippers/Timberwolves - Hah! Seriously? This is a game? The only way anyone is going to be tuning in to this one is if they have money on it. That's where we'd normally come in, but sadly, the line on this one is OFF. The Clippers are better than the Timberwolves, that's pretty safe, and the Clippers are coming off a win over the Nuggets, but I don't think one win is going to earn them the entire world's respect. This game will receive very little action, especially since the line is getting released late. I would lean Clippers, since it's pretty clear the Wolves can't compete with anyone, especially on the road. I expect a total in the low 190's, and I expect the Clippers to open as a moderate-sized favorite, perhaps in the 5-7 range. This shouldn't have any traps, either, since almost no one is betting it, so there's really no reason to go any direction with the line other than what the power rankings tell us.

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