Thursday, November 05, 2009

TNT Week Two: The Chuckster Strikes Back

If someone had just told me at 9:30 that the Dallas/New Orleans game would go into overtime, that would have saved me a great deal of strife. As it was, the total came right down to the wire, with a tip-in by Erick Dampier sealing the deal. Dampier, one of the most overpaid players in the NBA, when salary is compared to production, somehow managed two key tip-ins that didn't get Dallas a win, but did ruin our Under.

Around the NBA, we saw why the Lakers are the Lakers, not necessarily destroying the competition, but finding ways to win tough road games without Pau Gasol. It just reminds us how good this team will be when they get the Spaniard back. Are they better than the Nuggets this season? Not yet, no question about it, as Denver just continues to plaster their competition, but give the Lakers some time to work out the kinks, and I think we may be looking at another epic Western Conference Finals.

And in less relevant news, the Indiana Pacers woke up against the defenseless Knicks. We'll find out soon if it was a one-night fix, or a long-term metaphorical "jump-shot alarm clock."

Sports Wagering

Cavs/Bulls - Cleveland is currently favored by 11.5 points, a line that just begs us to take the dog. To this point, the public is backing the Cavs at this monster line, which is a nice break for those of us considering the Bulls. That being said, Chicago's infirmary does throw a little wrench into our plans to hop on 11.5 points and ride it to victory -- without Tyrus Thomas patrolling the lane on defense, Chicago is going to have all kinds of issues stopping the competent half of Cleveland's roster. Joakim Noah guarding Shaq WITHOUT HELP sounds rather unpleasant for the former Gator, too. The total is set at 191.5, which feels pretty accurate, since Chicago is going to take every opportunity to push the tempo, while Cleveland is going to try to turn this thing into a half-court game. I think Cleveland dictates the tempo for a greater portion of the game than Chicago, but I expect this game to go a lot like Chicago's game in Boston. They're likely to give up 100 points, so can they score 90+ by themselves? Obviously, Cleveland's defense is good, but not in the same League as the Celtics, and Chicago can likely take advantage of some slight quickness edges in the paint. When all that comes together, I think we see a total just below the posted mark, but I don't believe the edge is strong enough to make a wager.

Jazz/Spurs - Two solid games on TNT tonight, with a late contest in Utah finishing the double-dish. The line opened with the Jazz favored by a point and has steadily moved in a straight flip to the Jazz being 1 point dogs. Basically, this game is a pick. The Spurs haven't looked fully comfortable on the road, and Utah hasn't looked impressive at home or on the road. Normally, Utah is reliable on their home court, but lost their last home game to a Houston team playing above themselves. Then, when it looked like the Jazz might get it together on the road, Dirk Nowitzki uncorked his 29-point 4th quarter to bury them. I would lean San Antonio in this one based on previous results, but in a game expected to be this close, you really need to be confident before picking a side. The total is currently at 197, and slowly moving up despite, amazingly, slight public money on the Under. I think we'll see changes in how the money moves over the next few hours, but with the way San Antonio has been playing (a much quicker pace than in years past), I don't think 200 combined points is crazy, at all. I lean Over.

Fantasy Sports

NOT Allen Iverson - Do not be seduced by his 18 point, 7 assist effort last night. It came at the expense of the worst defense in the NBA. Iverson will go back to being a pain in the ass and taking ill-advised shots that disrupt the offense.

Jason Thompson - I admit, I picked this guy up before posting this note, just in case any opponents get some bright ideas. Thompson, when he can stay out of foul trouble, is going to be a 16-10 type of guy, and should rack up a couple steals and a couple blocks from time to time, as well. Most people (myself included) thought Spencer Hawes would be the sleeper pick on Sacramento, but it's turning out to be Thompson.

Brendan Haywood - I saw him dropped in a handful of Leagues after one bad game, but Haywood is the Wizards ONLY inside presence, and it looks like he's finally figuring out how to stay in the game for 25-30 minutes consistently. He's over 7-feet tall and mildly athletic. You can expect 10 and 10 from him on most nights with, I would think, 2 blocks a night. His rebounds will decrease when Jamison comes back, as Antawn has a nose for boards, but Haywood is a more than serviceable fantasy center this year.

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