Saturday, November 14, 2009

King Me!

I need to give credit where credit's due: Sacramento has taken Kevin Martin's injury and used it as motivation. They've since rattled off 4 straight wins, some more impressive than others, but this team is above .500 on the season, and took down a solid Houston club last night 109-100. Three players scored over 20 points last night, and Jason Thompson continued his spectacular surge; he really is quite skilled and can post some beefy numbers when he stays out of foul trouble. I still maintain that this team is due for a letdown, but as long as they're rolling, and as long as they (in my opinion) passed a test last night facing a well-coached veteran opponent, they should stay in attack mode for another game or two, at least.

In other news, my desktop PC is still lying on the floor, open to the world, guts spewed across my living room. It appears, after "going canine", that the smell of burnt plastic was emanating from the power supply, but who knows how many pieces of the computer shorted out from the incident. It's an old machine, so it might be time to part with it, but there is some sort of sentimentality in a computer I've had since college. The hard drives are intact, and records of my existence from 1988 until the present have been copied to other computers, so the most frightening part of this journey is over.

For those other nerdlingtons out there, I wouldn't mind some advice. There are no Fry's Electronics in the Midwest, but I've heard of a legendary shop of wares known as Microcenter, where computer parts gather and sing camp songs. Is this place truly as marvelous as I've heard? If so, it might be worth my time to see what sort of goodies I can procure.

Sports Wagering

Pacers/Celtics - I'm honestly not positive why this line is OFF. Boston seemed to be mostly healthy in their loss to the Hawks last night. Indiana might get Troy Murphy back, which is about the only reason I can think Vegas is waiting to release a line on this game. Boston has definitely come back to Earth after a monster start to the year, playing some closer games of late, and taking their aggression out on weaker opponents, like the Nets and struggling Jazz. The Pacers seem to have found a groove, though not a particularly deep groove, while rattling off 3 straight wins over severely outclassed teams (NY, Was, GS). The Celtics are certainly still the better team, and without Troy Murphy to pull one of Boston's bigs away from the hoop, this one should go in Boston's direction. I'd be surprised if the Celtics were favored by anything less than 5 or 6, and the total, since Indiana is an up-tempo team that still can't quite shoot the ball, should be right around 190.

Wizards/Pistons - I had a feeling this line would move overnight, and it did, though only slightly. After seeing Detroit getting 5 points late last night, they're getting 4.5 this morning. My first impression is to take the Pistons, who are playing defense like it's 2004, but not quite there offensively. Still, Charlie Villanueva has recovered from the flu (and other nagging injuries), and between he and Ben Gordon, they seem to have about enough offense to take care of the weaker NBA teams. Washington is definitely among the weak, but they're supposed to get BOTH Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller back for tonight's home game. Mike Miller helps, obviously, with his versatility, but Antawn Jamison is really the motor that keeps this team running. He shoots a great percentage from the field, and is just one of those guys that has a nose for the ball. Plus, his quick-release style near the bucket is extremely difficult to defend. I would wait and see how the Wizards gel in his return before taking a chance on them. The total of 185 is right on the money. No play in this one.

Bobcats/Blazers - Charlotte getting 3 points at home with a frightfully low total of 172.5. We've seen Charlotte's home-road splits all throughout this young season, and I feel as though tonight should be no different. This team just cannot shoot the ball on the road, but at home they play with confidence, and are 3-1. They are, however, coming off getting spanked in Detroit, and now face another top defensive club in Portland. At first glance, I'm inclined to take Charlotte, as they're in the better spot. Portland is coming off a horrifically ugly game in New Orleans that they won, but it was just an unbearable game to be a part of. It's not a terribly long flight for this back-to-back, and Portland has won 5 straight. This could be interpreted two ways: either they've figured out how to win on the road (and the solution was "play the world's slowest games"), or they're due for a few lapses. I would tend to side with the latter. Portland is on a 4-games-in-5-nights stretch that concludes tonight in Charlotte. They started in Memphis on the 10th, played in Minnesota on the 11th, last night in N'awleans, and now tonight in Charlotte. This is just a spot where almost everybody feels a little dead-legged. Early lean to Charlotte.

Hawks/Hornets - This is a game I mentioned in my daily thread last night when the line was Hawks -8. I mentioned Chris Paul's ankle injury in their game against Portland, and that the line would jump on news that Paul would miss a week or two while he heals. Whether the Hawks deserve to have a line near double-digits or not, it's happened, and if you grabbed Atlanta at -8, you have a very nice situation on your hands. You could, (a) keep your current wager on the Hawks at -8, and just hope they run the Hornets right out of the building, (b) buy back on the Hornets at +9.5 and set up a small middle, or (c) wait a little longer and see if the line continues to climb. I would recommend a or c, since it's still quite early on the west coast, and the public action in Vegas around 11am eastern time should move this line up another half point or so. I still like my original pick of Hawks -8, so waiting is definitely the way I'm going to go. The total of 202.5 would be on the low side if Paul was healthy, but being fully unaware of how the Hornets will respond with Darren Collison at the point, I'd rather not take a gamble on the total.

Cavaliers/Jazz - This line is OFF, as well. My thoughts, though, are that the Jazz finally got it together for one game, and put the Sixers over their knee. Does this mean Utah is back? I'm not convinced. The Sixers are having all kinds of problems figuring out a rotation without a true point guard to run the offense (once again, Andre Miller's departure sends a team into disarray: see Nuggets trade for Allen Iverson), so I'm not impressed with the Jazz just yet. The Cavs, meanwhile, seem to be learning how to play with one another, but it really seemed to come down to Mo Williams. When he's shooting at or above 50%, Lebron can have some rest and remain fresh for throwing daggers late in the 4th. When Williams struggles, this team goes back to being a one-man-gang with 10 role-players. The Cavs need one more scorer for me to consider them among the elite, preferably at the power forward spot. I know J.J. Hickson had a nice game against Miami, and he may yet become a good NBA player, but that game was not the start of a bum rush, but rather an explosion, and he'll return to normal production soon enough. Cavs should be favored in this one by 6, or thereabouts, with a total just under 190. Early lean to the Cavs to cover such a potential line.

Heat/Nets - Another line OFF. What gives?? The Nets are coming off a loss last night, and 3 very poor quarters after a good 1st. The Heat got outscored by the Cavs in a strange up-and-down game between two defensive clubs. I don't know if the Nets are expecting anyone back, but the Heat are mostly healthy, so this line being OFF feels strange to me. I think Miami will be favored near double-digits, and we'll probably see Miami's defensive style impact the total more than their up-tempo last game against the Cavs. With the Nets playing the second half of a back-to-back, I'm not sure they can really compete in this one. I lean to the favorite.

Bulls/Sixers - I had a sneaking suspicion we'd see the line move towards Chicago overnight, but the shift was only by a half point, with the Bulls favored by 6.5 now, as opposed to just 6 last night. I agree with the move. The Bulls are coming off a tired performance in Toronto after that home loss to the Nuggets ripped the team's collective heart out. Tonight, they get their act back together. Of course, that being said, before getting worked over in Toronto, they had played ONLY close games for about a week straight. Does that mean they're just going to hang with the Sixers and hope to win late? Maybe. Philadelphia is a mess, though, and it's tough to bank on them to cover anything these days. Very, very slight lean to the Bulls, but not a strong one at all. The total of 188 is a pure average. Chicago has been playing games right around 180, and Philly has been totaling near 196. I'm inclined to think Chicago will keep this thing from running out of control, and I have a slight lean to the Under.

Grizzlies/Timberwolves - Grizzlies by 8 with a total of 201.5. This total has dropped from its opening mark despite public money on the Over, so oddsmakers think Minnesota, without Al Jefferson, is going to struggle to break 90. That leaves an awful lot of ground for Memphis to cover if we're going to get a total over 200. Still, the Grizzlies play some of the highest-scoring games in the league, and have, arguably, the worst defense available. Even the horrid Wolves might be able to score a few buckets, and if the line drops much further, I'd be inclined to think we might get better value going back up Over the total. I'm also rather surprised Memphis is favored by 8. That team shouldn't be considered good enough to lay 8 points to anyone, even the Wolves. Is this a sucker-line, and will Memphis dominate from start to finish, or are we getting a gift on a Minny team that stinks, but doesn't stink all that much worse than the Grizz? These are the questions that need to be answered throughout the day.

Bucks/Warriors - The Bucks are starting to earn some cred, and are favorites of 7 at home to the Warriors with a total of 208.5. I have to be frank: I'm still not sure what to expect from the Bucks. They're finding ways to win games, and beat the Nuggets at home in their last game. This has a great deal to do with the hefty 7 points they need to cover in this one. The Warriors got a rare road win last night in New York, but I think it's safe to say that beating the Knicks is about as worthwhile an accomplishment as dunking on a 6-foot rim. Early money is on Milwaukee and the Over, and I'm inclined to believe that those dollars win half of their bets. Milwaukee covers, but the Under is a distinct possibility.

Spurs/Thunder - Another line OFF, though this one is because we may or may not see one or both of San Antonio's injured All-Stars. It's tough to offer elaborate, thorough opinions of the game if we don't know who's playing - especially when those guys that may or may not see the court are true impact players. I don't know where the lines are going to be, and they'll be different depending on the active guys, but despite San Antonio's high-scoring home games, the Thunder have been engaged in defensive battles, and are an Under cash cow. I'd definitely keep an eye on a potential clanker, but I'll offer more thoughts when we see what these lines might look like.

Fantasy Advice

Kelenna Azubuike - I thought about tossing him into the fantasy mix 2 games back, but decided to wait, and now he's probably been picked up in a handful of Leagues. Still, it sounds like Don Nelson might either quit or be fired in the next 2 weeks, which would drastically change the value of everyone in Golden State. Azubuike is worth having, Anthony Randolph is a top talent, and who knows what else might be worth grabbing if the Warriors get a coach that starts the same 5 guys for more than 2 games at a time.

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