Friday, November 20, 2009

Shootin' at the Walls of Heartache

The Warriors look way, way better without Stephen Jackson. It reminds me of the old riddle:

"What can you put in a bucket to make it lighter?

A hole."

Stephen Jackson's mighty hole in the Warriors' bucket has at last been replaced by the REST OF THE BUCKET, and while they may not be winning the tough road games, they're competing, and they look more cohesive doing it.

Your old pal Danno is headed out for 24 hours, so this may have some holes that require YOUR attention. I hereby issue a humble request that while I'm away from the internet, everyone can help each other by clearing up any mistakes I made, adding injury updates, and making the key plays!

Sports Wagering

Nets/Knicks - Here's a game that could make a lot of folks sick to their stomach, though word on the street is that Devin Harris is expecting to make his return tomorrow. The line is currently sitting on New Jersey by 2 at home with a total of 194. If Devin Harris has any of his usual spark, I think this is the game where New Jersey finally gets a win. They have a few solid pieces, with Harris at the point, Lopez down low, and now a healthy Douglas-Roberts on the wing. I lean to Jersey to cover, though these are two teams that have both been just terrible. New Jersey is 4-8 ATS, while the Knicks are an equally sad 3-8 ATS, so not only are these teams losing, but they're losing bad. The Nets are also 2-10 O/U, driving totals down, down, down. Devin Harris could help change that, though. His quicks are his greatest asset, and suddenly the Nets have a player that can get some steals and get out in transition. I think we'll start to see some Nets Overs in the near future, though Harris may take a game or two to get acclimated. No lean on the total.

Cavaliers/Sixers - Cleveland is favored by 11 with a total of 192.5. You know times are tough for the Sixers when they begin to get double-digit dog lines. Philadelphia is just a mess, and they really aren't showing any signs of turning things around. It starts with defense, and Philly's best defense this year has been trying to limit the total number of possessions. It hasn't been working, at least not in the sense of getting them wins. It has pushed some final totals down a little, but Philly just keeps losing. The Cavs, meanwhile, are starting to win with some offense. I know, I'm as blown away as the next guy, but suddenly they seem more concerned with having some fun out there than playing hard-nosed defense and trying to deflate opponents. The Cavs are an Over team during their last 5 or 6 games, and the question here is whether the Sixers can find a way to score 90 points. I lean slightly to the Over, but my trust in Philly makes this a very iffy play. In terms of the side, I'm not a big fan of taking a double-digit favorite, especially since Cleveland is returning home after a road game. Still, Lebron should have no trouble scoring at will against Philadelphia, and I think this line is right on the mark. No lean on the side.

Hornets/Hawks - Hornets are getting 6 points on their home floor with a total of 207. At first glance, this line looks like a trap, though perhaps I only feel that way because of the debacle that was Phoenix's defensive rebounding. That won't be a problem here. The Hawks are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA, especially at the offensive end of the floor. They are on a tough back-to-back, as they hosted Houston last night in Atlanta while the Hornets have been able to take a night to prep for the high-flying Hawks. Atlanta has also been a much better home team in years past, though they're showing signs of becoming slightly more competitive on the road this year. The Hornets are trying to step up in Chris Paul's absence, and they did a decent job of doing so in an easy win over the Clippers and a tough win over the Suns, but it'll catch up with them at some point. This game, I'm sure, will see a ton of action on the Hawks, and smells like a no-play to me, a smell I can whiff from a mile away. The total of 207 seems pretty accurate. I would lean slightly to the Over, since New Orleans is clearly trying to move the ball up the floor quickly and get an open shot before a defense can get set.

Grizzlies/Bucks - Memphis laying 3.5 at home to the Bucks with a total of 198. Memphis is getting a ton of respect here, because this line basically tells me that oddsmakers think these teams are evenly matched on a neutral court. The Bucks continue to deal with injury issues, with both Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut hurt, and that does indeed leave them shorthanded. This game is another one that smells like a pass, since the Bucks are playing a back-to-back shorthanded. If you want to take anything, I think you have to lean to the Grizzlies, since they, at least, have enough healthy bodies to get through 2 games in 2 nights without getting gassed by the 7th quarter of 8. The total of 198 appears too high, especially with the way the Grizzlies have been focused more on executing on offense lately, but fouls could push this total up. Still, the Bucks don't figure to score a ton, since they'll be relying pretty heavily on Jennings. I lean to the Under, and barely to the Grizz.

Spurs/Wizards - This line is OFF, to no one's surprise. San Antonio is dealing with the absence of both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and Parker MIGHT make his return in this one. The Spurs desperately need healthy bodies, and this is a team, as you may have heard in my "Today in Sports Betting" daily podcast, that is just not worthy of backing until they figure out team chemistry with all the new faces. Basically, it's Wizards or nothing, though I'm not necessarily saying that's the way to go. The total should be relatively high, though I'm just not sure San Antonio can keep up lately. They've looked old and slow. More to come tomorrow when we see some lines.

Rockets/Kings - This is a big line. Houston by 10 at home with a total of 208. The total I like. Houston has been playing some Unders, but Sacramento plays minimal defense, and I think we'll see both teams get out on the break. But laying 10 points on the second half of a back-to-back where the first half was played in Atlanta? Houston has a tall order maintaining top speed for that many minutes after traveling significantly farther than Sacramento, who played in Dallas last night. I'm forced to pre-type a significant amount of this blog today due to time constraints, but I think we'll get a good idea of what to expect from Sacramento after watching the Dallas game. Sacramento finally lost their last game, the first "L" since they lost Kevin Martin, and it has all the makings of a severe letdown for all the guys that stepped up in those 4 big wins for the Kings. If Sacramento can keep it close against Dallas, I think they can do the same with San Antonio, but I fear a blowout. Updates to come. EDIT: Sacramento played a DAMN good game against the Mavs. I lean Sactown on this one when the line comes out.

Jazz/Pistons - This line is OFF. That being said, we can still take a peek at the game without knowing the line, and try to make some calls. The Jazz have won 3 of 4 (2 straight), and have gone 4-0 ATS in those 4 games, as well. Does this mean they've turned a corner? I'm still not convinced. Those SU wins for Utah came against Philadelphia, who is just in disarray, at home against an awful road Raptors team, and then in San Antonio against the Parker/Ginobili-less Spurs. This game won't really define a turnaround for Utah, either, but it could be a well-contested match. Detroit is finding ways to score, and can compete with the mid-tier teams of the NBA. Still, Utah is always tough at home, Detroit is on a tiring road trip through some tough, tough cities, and I expect this line to open near 8 with a total of 193.

Nuggets/Bulls - Denver by 9 at home to Chicago with a total of 205. Should be a good game, if only because the HOME team has to play the second half of a back-to-back in the thin air of Denver. Surely they're better accustomed to the situation, but I think Chicago has a huge energy advantage in this one. Denver is playing on the West coast, and even though it's just a game with the Clippers, they'll be getting into Denver in the wee hours of the morning, and will be forced to adjust to the mile high altitudes in just a few hours. I lean hard to Chicago with the points early, and I also think this game has a great shot of going Under. Denver isn't going to be running all game, they simply won't have the steam, and the Bulls should be more than happy to take it to the lethargic Nuggets in a lower-scoring game. Strong leans to both the Bulls and the Under.

Blazers/Timberwolves - Portland by 15 with a total of 186.5. Yikes. Sometimes 15 point lines are just outrageous, and sometimes they're not. This is a situation where Minnesota might actually need 15 points to hang with the Blazers. Of course, we should not forgot that Portland rolled through Minnesota and won by 17 there, so perhaps the Wolves will feel a little twinge of anger going into this one. We might also see Portland take Minnesota lightly, since they probably remember beating up on them on the road and don't think they'll need a top effort to beat Minny at the Rose Garden. I would lean to the Wolves, though this side screams pass to me. The total, on the other hand, seems a little on the high side. Portland plays incredible defense, and I know that's what everyone is going to be thinking, but I don't really see Minnesota breaking 85, which means Portland is going to have to hit 100 to cover and clear the total. Slight lean to the Under.

No fantasy notes from Friday's schedule.

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