Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mega Sports Black Friday

I sincerely hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and today, it's back to the betting grind. Of course, yesterday had some betting mixed in with the turkey, stuffing, and whatever else we could jam into our bellies, and everything went quite well.

I'm anxious to see how a lot of teams play heading into this weekend, since I think we can take some information from this huge upcoming Friday card and apply it to games coming up. Unfortunately, the games tonight are going to be more interesting for how they impact future matchups than for the excitement of the game itself. Let's get down to business.

Sports Wagering

Sixers/Hawks
- This line is OFF, presumably until we get some word on Brand. Atlanta got spanked at home last night by the Orlando Magic, and now has to head to Philly to play a subpar Sixers team. The Hawks have come back to Earth a bit after a wildly hot start, losing 3 straight against the spread after winning 6 straight ATS. Normally, teams in this spot are good fade candidates, but I think the Hawks are going to be in the mindset to make a statement after getting creamed at home by a better team. They will want to roll into Philly and make sure the world knows they're a good team. Philadelphia, meanwhile, dealt the Celtics another ATS loss, but lost the game, and have lost 4 straight SU, but have actually covered in their last 3. I expect the Sixers to open as dogs in this one, but the Hawks loss to the Magic might give us a little value with Atlanta, since the public rarely likes the back a team that just cost them money the previous night. Let's wait and see where this line opens up, and take it from there. I am quite curious where we'll see the total open, too.

Heat/Wizards - Another line OFF. Very annoying, and it won't be the last. The Heat host Washington in this one, Miami coming off that very strange last-second win over the Magic in Orlando. Orlando bounced back just fine from that loss, but I wonder about the Heat. They seemed to catch the Magic on a night when Orlando was asleep for long stretches of the game, and I'm not sure the Heat are even close to as competent as they appeared in that ESPN game. The Wizards are definitely not competent, just barely edging a troubled, injured Sixers club at home after a dismal road trip through a few tough towns. This is a game with slightly more value in the Wizards, but unless we're getting a goodly number of points for Washington, I'm not sure I can trust them. The total might be more interesting, given that Miami's defense has suddenly dropped off precipitously, and Washington will look to push the total higher than Miami wants. I might go Over the total if we can get a number near 190, but we just have to wait and see.

Bobcats/Cavs - Charlotte is getting 4.5 points at home with a total of 186. I feel this total is pretty accurate. Cleveland has been playing some higher-scoring games, but Charlotte still has all kinds of issues scoring on offense when they're not forcing turnovers, and they still prefer to take 22 of the 24 second shot-clock to get a shot off. Charlotte is a decent home team, as they're coming off a dismantling of the Toronto Raptors, and while they're 0-7 on the road, they are 5-2 at home. The Bobcats have actually won 2 straight home games by wide margins, which means this 4.5-point home dog line is that much more impressive. I highly suggest we take a look at how the money comes in on this one before making any sort of move. The Cavs are 11-4 on the season now, but only 7-8 ATS, so they haven't really been covering as a favorite. Still, they've won 3 straight games, and after opening the season with 2 losses, Cleveland is 11-2; not bad at all. One thing to note is that Cleveland has another game on Saturday, at home against the Dallas Mavericks, so there is the potential prospect of a little looking ahead. The Bobcats solid play at home seems to counterbalance the Cavaliers' decent all-around play, and like I noted above, this one is a waiting spot.

Celtics/Raptors - The Celtics are favored by 10.5 at home to the Raptors with a total of 204. I don't know if the giant Thanksgiving meal is just leaving my head confused and spinning, but the lines for tomorrow look all kinds of crazy, but not crazy in "I see value" sense, more in the "what the heck is going to happen tomorrow" sense. The Celtics, for instance, are 11-4 SU, but 5-10 ATS. They are just an awful big favorite to bet on lately, as they've lost their last 6 games ATS, all as pretty sizable favorites. And here we are again. Surely, the Celtics will snap out of this "winning by not that much" stretch, but when? The Raptors might be just what the doctor ordered. Toronto has been downright horrible on the road where they are 2-7 SU and 3-6 ATS. The Raptors are -8.7 points to their opponents on the road, where they give up an average of almost 112 points. Yikes! I'm not sure I can trust either team on the side, given the numbers just stated, but the Over sure looks like a possibility. If Toronto is truly giving up 112 points, then we can safely assume the Celtics will break 100. Can Toronto score enough to get this thing Over? I'm not positive. They're coming off their poorest shooting night of the season in Charlotte, and the last time they shot under 40% in one game, they came back and shot 56% the next night. Weak lean to the Over.

Thunder/Bucks - Thunder are laying 5 with a total of 197.5. Very intriguing line, here. The Thunder have been mostly trading off ATS wins and losses so far this year, but are finally starting to get some favorite lines, and they're 2-2 ATS as a favorite. They're coming off a road win at Utah, which is a nice accomplishment for a young team. They've also shown very small home/road splits, which makes the home court advantage a little less interesting here. Milwaukee, meanwhile, is smack in the middle of a harrowing road trip that has taken them through Memphis, San Antonio, New Orleans, and concludes tonight in OKC. That being said, the Bucks HOST the Orlando Magic tomorrow, which means the Thunder are in a nice spot to capitalize on a road-weary club that might be looking ahead to getting home and trying to stack up against one of the East's elite clubs. The Bucks, too, have been a pretty sad road team, posting just a 2-4 record away from home, and a 6-1 mark in Milwaukee. I think the Thunder have a nice shot to blow this one open and win by close to 10. I also think this total is pretty close to accurate. The Bucks defense on the road has been a little lackluster on their current trip, and the Thunder don't play all that quick. I would lean slightly to the Under just given Milwaukee's look-ahead spot perhaps dropping them in a 85-90-point window, but again, the stronger lean here is to the Thunder.

Pacers/Mavericks - This line is OFF, so here are some notes on both teams. The Pacers, first, are coming off a nice 13-point home win over the Clippers to snap a 4-game losing streak. More impressively, they did it without Danny Granger. I'm not sure they can conquer a really good team like Dallas without Granger, and that is likely why we'll have to wait until tomorrow to get a line on this one. The Pacers didn't shoot the ball particularly well, so it wasn't exactly a pretty win, and for that reason I'm not ready to start backing this team again. Dallas appeared to be pretty upset about that 8-point loss to Golden State 2 games back, and they took their anger out on Houston with a 31-point drubbing on the road. The Mavs shot over 60% for the game for the second time this year in a situation where I'm not sure they could have been slowed down if 8 or 9 guys were trying to defend them. The Mavs, at 11-4, lead their division, and at 6-2 ATS on the road, have been a bettor's best buddy. I expect Dallas to open as a small favorite, perhaps in the 3-5 range, and we'll have to take a long look at it. I think we'll see a total over 200, and I might be so inclined to play the Under given Indy's recent shooting woes.

Pistons/Clippers - Compelling game, I know. No line yet. Still, we have work to do to get ourselves in game shape on this one. The Pistons have lost 6 straight games, and it appears as though a tougher schedule and the losses of Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are finally starting to catch up with this team. Of course, it didn't help that Ben Gordon hurt himself in the last game, cutting this team's offense, literally, to just Charlie Villanueva. You can try to convince me that Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey are viable options, but it'll take way longer than the time we have between now and when this game tips. The Pistons did manage to cover in 2 of those 6 losses, but 2-4 ATS is still pretty darn bad when you consider how many points they've been getting. Today, I expect Detroit to be the favorite, and amazingly, as a favorite, Detroit is 3-1 ATS. They are significantly better at home than on the road (3-3 vs. 2-7), but they just simply don't have the firepower to beat anyone if 3 of their best guys are sidelined. I assume this line is off because Ben Gordon might play (ankle sprain), and if he does, Detroit might be a nice option. The Clippers got truly embarrassed in Indiana by the Granger-less Pacers to start their current road trip, shooting 32% in the contest and being held to 73 points by one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. That being said, the moment I think I've got the Clips figured out, they storm out of the gate to an early 14-point lead, and ruin my plans. I think we'll see Detroit open as a favorite of about 3-4 points, and I expect a total in the 180's.

Rockets/Spurs - The Rockets are 1-point favorites at home to San Antonio with a total of 199. This is a very interesting game, to me. Houston has alternated SU wins and losses ALL MONTH, a span of, now, 12 games. Thus, they are 6-6 in November, 8-7 overall, and 9-6 ATS. Still, as that trend dictates, the Rockets are due for a SU win, and as a 1-point favorite, that also means they're likely in line for an ATS victory. Of course, it's nuts to wager on that trend alone. The real reasoning on this one lies mostly in the play of the Spurs. San Antonio seems to be starting to put the pieces together, winning 3 consecutive games SU and ATS. However, let's not get carried away. All of those wins have come on their home floor, where the Spurs are 7-2. They're a miserable 0-4 on the road, and have just not been able to make shots outside of whatever they call their building these days. The home/road splits have been pretty ridiculous. At home, the Spurs have a final margin of +10.2; on the road, -9.5. The nearly 20-point swing is just a hair larger than the 6-8 points that books usually move a line depending on which building it's being played in. I'm a little concerned that San Antonio is starting to figure out how to play together, but home wins over Washington, Milwaukee and Golden State are hardly games to completely change your opinion of a team. Strong lean to Houston. Weak lean the Under, since the Spurs clearly can't score on the road.

Nuggets/Knicks - Denver by 13.5 at home with a total of 218.5. I have to say, I don't care about the spread in this one, I just can't trust the Knicks right now. New York has looked AWFUL, and I mean that with a capital entire-word. They've shot under 40% against two teams with relatively uninspiring defenses (Lakers, Kings), and now they have to rise to a mile above sea level to take on another high-octane club that has no qualms about blowing teams out. The Nuggets have won 3 consecutive games SU and ATS, and have taken all 3 by double digits. They really know how to play in Denver, too, as they are a perfect 6-0 at home this year with an average victory margin of 16! That right there should almost be enough proof to take Denver. I really don't see this line moving up, though, and I'd advise waiting to see what happens. Sharps will usually just grab at a dog with a line this high, and I think we'll see the line drop to 13 at some point, and we can potentially look at it then. I also like the Under in this one, since I don't see the Knicks waking up any time soon.

Timberwolves/Suns - Minnesota is getting 9.5 points at home to the run n' gun Suns with a total of 214.5. I'll be up front when I say I'm not a huge fan of this game. I think the Suns line is wildly inflated, much like the Denver line above, but I have a tough time trusting Phoenix on the road when we're talking about a team that just doesn't play defense. Phoenix has been a road favorite 4 times this season, and is 2-2 ATS. But, looking more closely, they were a road favorite of just 2 points in the 2 road ATS wins. When they were favored by 8 at New Orleans, they lost that game outright. I don't think the Timberwolves win this game, but catching 9.5 points at home is an awful lot of points. The Wolves are just bad enough that I wouldn't even take them with this many points at home, and instead I look to the total for some kind of value. Phoenix always looks to push the tempo, but they tend to score a good 10 points more in home games as opposed to road contests. Phoenix averages just 106 away from home, and while the Wolves play some shoddy defense and that final Phoenix number should eclipse 110, I'm not sure I see the Wolves keeping up. Like I noted earlier, this game scares the hell out of me. No leans.

Trailblazers/Grizzlies - Portland laying 11.5 at home with a total of 194.5. Another huge line. It's almost amazing how many uninteresting games we've had over the last few days, but we make do with what we can. Portland is a beast of a team. They failed to cover against the Nets in their last one, but still won by double digits, a feat the Blazers have accomplished in all 3 of the games on their current homestand. Once again, though, we need Portland to do better than just double digits. We need 12 points for a cover in this one against a Memphis team that is definitely showing signs of improvement. The Grizzlies are just 5-10 on the season, but 7-8 ATS, and have won 4 of 6. They are, like most young teams, much better at home. Memphis is 1-7 on the road, which certainly gives Grizzlies-backers pause in this one. Sure, they're collecting 11.5 points, but will it matter? Memphis was getting 10.5 points in their last game, at Phoenix, and lost by 15. Phoenix shot 60% in that one, which Portland likely will not do, but Portland's defense is such that I trust them to build a lead and hang onto it. Very slight lean to the big favorite here. The total looks spot on, with Memphis trying to push the tempo, and doing a nice job of scoring lately, while Portland probably will try to keep the young, quick Grizzlies from getting out and running.

Kings/Nets - Sacramento by 5 at home with a total of 194. This is a funny line -- the side is decidedly in the Kings favor, with Sacramento now a favorite in two straight games, the only two games they've been a favorite in all season long. But while the side favors the Kings, the total seems to favor the Nets extremely slow tempo. Perhaps I'm misreading it. It could be that oddsmakers just don't think New Jersey will break 90 points yet again, and that's quite possible. I'm actually surprised the red-hot Kings aren't favored by more than 5, and I'm concerned oddsmakers think this is the game the Nets get their first win. Only getting 5 points on the road seems like a pretty rough spot for Jersey, and that definitely gives me pause. My initial lean is strong to the Kings, but I think the prudent move is to see where this line moves, determine why, then react. Sacramento can certainly score at home, but the Nets 2-13 O/U record should make anyone think twice before betting an Over. I lean to the Under here, until Jersey shows they can break 90 points.

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