Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rollin' on Twenties

Sometimes we all need to just stop and tip our cap when a player sets the bar (and, in the process, destroys a wager that looked pretty good), and yesterday, that player was Steve Nash.

Maybe I should rephrase -- in this particular case, we really had a player RE-set the bar, given his string of mind-blowing performances. Last night, Phoenix rallied from 11 down at halftime, and 8 down with 5 minutes to go, thanks in large part to Steve Nash punching his ticket to another All-Star game in one night with 21 points and 20 assists. The season is only 2 weeks old, but Nash leads the League in assists per game with 12.9, 1.3 higher than his previous career mark for a season. He's also shooting 52.5% from the field, and almost 93% from the foul line. The only blemish on his numbers this year is the 4.6 in the turnover column, far and away the most he's given up in his time in the NBA.

Looking back, I still feel the line on that game (Philadelphia +2) was a trap, and without the contributions off the bench of Jared Dudley, that bet is an easy winner. Yes, Steve Nash got Dudley open, but his back-to-back three-pointers late in the 4th quarter proved to be the spark that woke up the rest of the Suns.

Sports Wagering

Bobcats/Magic - The Magic have looked a little out of sorts with three men racking up DNP's, and this line is OFF as a direct result of those injury concerns. Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson both missed the Magic's sulfur-bomb of a game in Oklahoma, as well as Rashard Lewis as he serves the remainder of his PED suspension. Still, it's tough to see this loaded Magic roster NOT bouncing back. The Bobcats have been very good at home, and might be the biggest home/road split team right now. The public is going to be backing the team they know more about, and a FAIR line on this game would be Magic by 6 or 7. If it opens lower than that, then we have a line movement situation on our hands. The Bobcats like to slow the game down, and if the Magic continue to play without 3 of their scorers, we should see Charlotte dictate the tempo fairly well, and the posted total will not eclipse the 193 mark. Keep an eye out for a potential Under opportunity.

Heat/Wizards - Miami is favored by 6.5 at home with a total of 187.5. I actually feel these numbers are pretty fair. Miami continues to play excellent basketball, and has stormed out of the gates to a 5-1 record, with a few of those wins I'd consider "quality" victories. They're coming off an 8 point win over the Denver Nuggets, and already beat the Wizards by 4 on the road. Of course, going on that model, Miami should be favored by 10, so oddsmakers feel the Wizards will put up a good fight in this one before falling late. I've been pretty disappointed in the Wizards since their season-opening win over the Mavs -- they seem to be settling for outside jumpers way too often, and it's extremely difficult to win consistently with that attack scheme unless you're the Orlando Magic and have Dwight Howard in the paint to clean up the mess. I lean to Miami to give Arenas all he can handle. In terms of the total, this is the LOWEST that we've seen for any Miami game all season long, so the oddsmakers may be starting to adjust after a 1-5 O/U record to start the year. I cap this final score at 186, so a VERY slight lean to the Under, but really not strong enough to make any moves, not without some line movement verification on our side.

Bulls/Nuggets - The Bulls are favored by 1.5 at home to the Nuggets with a total of 204. The first thought is that this line is a trap, and that everyone and their mother will take Nugs with the points, but right now Denver is struggling. They've lost back-to-back games on their current road trip, and most folks not named Carmelo have looked sluggish after the strong start. The Bulls have won 3 straight, knocking off Milwaukee, Cleveland and Charlotte, and the COMBINED victory margin of all 3 games is 6 points. Oddsmakers know Chicago has been playing close games lately, and they also know Denver is not the type of team to fold after 2 straight losses, so I actually think this line is pretty fair. The public is going to back the Nuggets, the sharps are going to back the Bulls, and we should see the line move a point or 1.5 over the course of the day. At the current line, I lean to the public side, but this is not one of those sides we're going to jump on in the early a.m. The total of 204 seems a point or two on the low side in this one. Chicago doesn't really have a "style", and Denver likes to play an up-tempo game. The only games the Nuggets have played that haven't featured a combined total over 200 were contests against Portland and Miami, veteran clubs that slow the game down. Strong lean to the Over.

Grizzlies/Blazers - Memphis has to feel better getting home after a dismal road trip, but today they have to face the Blazers. Memphis is getting 5.5 points with a total of 203. The Grizzlies recently completed an 0-5 swing around the west coast, and you just have to believe this team is going to be happy to get home and get a crowd behind them. They're 1-6 on the season, but 1-1 at home, suffering a rather discombobulated loss to the Pistons in their opener, then bouncing back with a nice win over the Raptors. I think Memphis plays Portland tough, as the Blazers aren't exactly blowing the doors off the building this year, either. They have won 2 straight, but those wins have come at the expense of a confused San Antonio club and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who appear to lack that certain road warrior attitude (and until they sign Mad Max, it's going to stay that way). Portland has, historically, been much worse away from home, and I feel getting 5.5 is a pretty solid deal for a Memphis club that might be looking down the barrel of the public betting less than 15% on them. Time will tell. The 203 total feels high for a Blazers game, but Memphis pushes the tempo at every opportunity, and we saw the Portland-Houston game hit 218, as the Blazers have a tendency to wrapped into other teams' style of play away from home. Slight lean to Memphis, slight lean to the Over.

Mavericks/Rockets - Mavs at home, favored by 6 with a total of 199. We'll start with the total on this one, as I think 199 is a pretty weak line. It seems like a poor effort, just figuring we'll see about 50 points in every quarter. Well, the Rockets are 5-1 to the Over so far this year, as they continue to push the ball at every opportunity, knowing they're not going to win a defensive struggle without their 7'6" behemoth in the middle. The Mavericks are generally a set-offense type of team, but they've been shooting the ball VERY well of late, even posting 129 points against the Raptors in a 63% shooting bonanza. After starting the year with 4 straight Under, the Mavs have logged 2 straight Overs, and I expect this contest to be similar. The Mavs are not a 41%-shooting team, which is what they were averaging over the first week-plus, and their team numbers are starting to average out. I look for another game shooting near 50% for Dallas, and I look for a well-coached Houston team to force Dallas to score to beat them. In terms of the side, I'm not sure I trust Houston enough on the road to stay within 6, so early lean to Dallas.

Kings/Thunder - Both of these teams have been playing better than people expected over the last few days. The Kings have won 2 straight after losing Kevin Martin to injury, and the Thunder are coming off a rogering of an undermanned Magic club. This should be an excellent match-up of young teams trying to prove their worth. The Thunder have the clear talent edge, and also the defensive mindset, but the Kings are playing on the "lost-comrade" adrenaline, and it's tough to say exactly how long it will last. Sacramento is getting 1.5 points at home with a total of 199.5. Sacramento has played 3 games at home, and they have all shot Over the total, which means one of two things -- either they're due for an Under, or they impose their high-scoring style on whoever comes into the building. It could also mean a little of both. These teams played in Oklahoma City to kick off the season, and the total ended at 191, but I expect the Kings to shoot the ball better in this one. The Thunder have shot 43% in both of their road games, and while I think the number will be slightly higher in this one due to Sacramento's lackluster defense, I would not be surprised to see the Kings pull off another upset (albeit, a small one) with a total that slips just Under the posted mark.

Fantasy Advice

Wilson Chandler - He was supposed to have his breakout fantasy year, but has been fairly disappointing so far, as have most of the Knicks. Chandler had a nice 17-point, 10-rebound effort last night, and officially climbed back onto the Danno Watch List. If he can continue to hit a few 3's, and mix in a steal and a block, we'll boost him to Pick-Up status.

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