Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Once Was Spurned

I had a lot of bad luck, and while I'm not sure it's done, it's nice to get a few easy ones. The big play a few days back on Charlotte, and then last night another large play winner on Utah have me feeling my oats. Alright, enough of that mess. Huge NBA card, for a Sunday, so no time to waste, not when we've got a full NFL card to take care of, as well!

Sports Wagering

Pistons/Hawks - This line is OFF, and one can only imagine unless Detroit gets SOMEONE back from the infirmary, they'd probably prefer the game gets called. Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are all out, and while none is expected to be at full strength, word is that Ben Gordon might make his return. Even if he does, how effective will he be? I don't like backing the Pistons here, as they are just out of offensive options. Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum do not an offense make. Heck, they lost to the Clippers on their home floor in the last one. I expect the Hawks, who snapped a short 2-game losing streak with a decisive road win over the injury-plagued 76ers, to take it to the Pistons. Atlanta doesn't have another game until December 2, so there's no real look-ahead concerns, and really, the only thing that may hold them back would be taking the Pistons somewhat lightly. I don't expect Atlanta to fall into that trap. They know they're significantly better at home, so every win during the regular season is huge. They're not tired yet, and I just can't envision the Pistons putting up enough points to compete. I think Detroit will get sucked into a higher-scoring game than they'd like, as well, and I think this total could approach 200. Line should be out tomorrow around podcast time, and we'll make a play then.

Raptors/Suns - Holy moly, Raptors getting 2 points at home with a total of 230! There is almost zero chance I make a play on this game. Every time Phoenix goes on the road, they impress, while Toronto is a team I love to back at home because of their ridiculous home/road splits so far. But here we have those two trends going head-to-head, never a good spot to pick a side. I like the Suns by just a point or two, but Toronto could easily shoot 60% and win by 15, which makes this game way too hectic and unpredictable to be worth my time and energy. In terms of the total, we're talking about two teams that play zero defense. The Suns are scoring up around 120 points over their last 3 games, which has caused this total to balloon. Like I said, I just really do not like wagering on games like this one. If I have a change of heart, I'll be sure to let people know.

Clippers/Grizzlies - Clippers as a favorite...uh oh. LA is laying a staggering 3.5 points at home with a total of 200 on the nose. Interesting match-up from a betting standpoint, not a game I'd want to watch, though. The Clippers are getting healthy, aside from Blake Griffin, who probably isn't all that far from getting back on the court, too, and their improving health is showing on the court. Al Thornton has his legs back, Eric Gordon is trying to round himself back into basketball shape, and with Chris Kaman and Baron Davis developing a rapport at long last, this team is finding ways to win against the mediocre teams of the NBA. They've won 3 of 4 and are somehow just 7-10 despite playing like a 3-14 team at times. Alright, so the Clippers are playing better, and that's why we're seeing the 3.5-point favorite line, but is there any real value in this one. Memphis is coming off an impressive road win over the Portland Trailblazers, and this team has quietly been playing much better basketball, too. They also beat the Clippers by 15, 2 weeks ago in Memphis, and lost to the Clippers by 3 in LA a couple weeks before that. I don't like a side in this game, since both clubs are playing a bit better than earlier this season. Memphis has played 5 consecutive Overs, though, so perhaps there's a little value there -- the previous meeting in LA hit a total of 223.

Knicks/Magic - Knicks getting 6.5 at home with a total of 205. This is a tough spot, here. The Knicks played their butts off in Denver, but came up just short, and generally, a team coming off a tough, hard-fought loss is a spot where I'd prefer to fade, but with the Knicks, they had just played two TERRIBLE games before finally showing some signs of life in that Denver contest. Thus, I'd be more inclined to think that perhaps it was the START of a decent stretch of basketball, and not the end. Of course, on the other hand, New York returns home after an 0-3 road trip across parts of the West coast, and then the Rocky Mountains. So New York is something of a toss-up. The Magic, on the other hand, have been remarkably consistent, even without their starting point guard. Orlando fell behind by a good sum against the Bucks, but managed to come back and win the game SU while failing to cover. Still, it was a nice gut-check, and you have to think that was the Magic's weak effort over the next couple days. I get the sensation they'll continue to play hard in this game against New York, and with Dwight Howard getting healthier by the day, I'm not sure the Knicks stand a chance. Time will tell on this play. I don't like the total due to some of the reasons listed above.

Heat/Celtics - Heat getting 4 at home to the struggling Celtics with a total of 187.5. Boston finally covered one, and you have to wonder if that's the start of things 'evening out', or if that was just a situation where Boston got to play Toronto not in Canada, and a cover was the easy result. Before that, the Celtics had lost 7 straight covers, and they are now 6-10 ATS this season. It seems like it might be time for things to start coming back to the median. Based on math, I'd lean Celtics. Based on recent play, I'd rather not watch this game. Like I noted, Boston has been struggling, and their defense has been the biggest problem. Boston has given up over 100 points in the last 3 straight games, after allowing 100+ in just 2 of the first 13. The Heat have been suffering from a similar case of Raptoritis. After starting the year 6-1, they're now just 9-6, and only 1 of the 3 recent wins would even come close to qualifying as "good." They beat the Nets at home by 1, the Hornets at home by 1, and then the Magic on the road, also by 1. So what we're seeing is that if the Heat can take a game to the final possession, they're in okay shape, but if the game is decided before then, they're going to get blasted. I realize because Boston is Boston, they are always going to be a bad value, but I don't think the Heat stand a chance in this one. Lean to the Celts, and lean to the Over.

Spurs/Sixers - San Antonio by 10.5 with a total of 194. This line looks horrible to me, and I'll tell you why. The Spurs seem to have suddenly figured out their team defense, and the oddsmakers have reacted in record time. After this team was the biggest disappointment in the NBA through the first 10 games, they've rattled off 4 straight wins both SU and ATS. It makes wagering on San Antonio very difficult, even if you feel they will win this game big. 10.5 points is a ton, but the Sixers are just the type of team to get run over by a much better-coached and more talented ball club. The Sixers, as usual, are losing in the Fall. They've dropped 5 straight, and with Louis Williams going down for 2 months, they really are feeling the hurt. Rookie Jrue Holiday just can't hold his own, and the team is just in perma-struggle right now. I don't think they hang on through even 3 quarters, but at 10.5 points, the back door is certainly in play. Weak lean to the Spurs. I also don't think Philly has the firepower right now to push this total over, though the Spurs have been having no problem posting 100 at home. No lean on the total.

Thunder/Rockets - Oklahoma by 3 with a total of 198. At first glance, I like the Thunder, and let's see what the stats tell us. For one, it's starting to look like the Rockets lack of talent is catching up with them. This team has a bright young point guard in Aaron Brooks, a role player trying to be a superstar (and now starting to struggle as a result) in Trevor Ariza, Mr. Irrelevant, Shane Battier, and Luis Scola. They really don't have the personnel to compete long term. They kept up for a month on glue and tunnels (yeah, I made that expression up), but teams have started to gameplan for them, and suddenly they're finding it a bit tougher to score. They've lost 3 of 4, with the lone win coming against a completely exhausted Sacramento Kings club that Houston was fortunate to catch in such a spot. Otherwise, the Rockets are coming off 2 straight home losses, by 31 to Dallas and by 8 to the suddenly surging Spurs. Also worth noting is that the Rockets beat the Thunder by 9 in Houston earlier this year, so Oklahoma City is going to want to deliver a roundhouse to the jaw. The Thunder are definitely better this year, and oddsmakers and writers are starting to take notice. They are 9-7 SU, 10-6 ATS, are 4-2 both SU and ATS in their last 6, and the two losses came at Orlando and at the Lakers. Needless to say, this team is earning my respect. They beat the Bucks by 18 in their last home game after beating Utah by 10 on the road. Lean to the Thunder here, and no real leans on the total...maybe just a tiny bit to the Over.

Nuggets/Timberwolves - The game we've all been waiting for. Denver by 15.5 with a total of 214. I mean, just the math here is enough to make me want to run for the hills. Denver is expected to win by 15.5 points, yet the total is expected to approach 215? That means if Denver hits 115 points, we'd need the Wolves to break 100, basically. I'd rather not even mess with it. In terms of the side, we know the Wolves are awful; their next expected victory is sometime in 2012, so what's the point? Rather than go into all the reasons to take one side or the other, if this game gets on the card, it would likely because of line movement and little else. That's just the honest truth. Denver had a close win over the Knicks 2 days back, but after the Wolves they host the Warriors, so this isn't really a spot where the Nuggets can be planning ahead. They're on one of the world's easiest homestands, and that's probably why we saw something of a half-assed defensive effort against the Knicks. The Nuggets will win big here, but how big is too much of a question mark for me to venture a play.

Kings/Hornets - Kings by 3 at home with a total of 211. I must say, this line makes me want to jump on the Kings as fast as humanly possible, but I believe it's in all of our best interest to wait and see where the line goes. Sacramento is playing like they mean it! They are 7-8 on the season despite losing their best scorer to a long term injury, but rookie Tyreke Evans has absolutely taken over, even collecting nice chunks of rebounds from the guard spot. You just have to love the development of the young guys on this team, with Hawes, Thompson and Evans the future of the franchise. The Kings have been small favorites in their last 2 home games, and they've dominated in both. I see no reason to change my expectations here, OTHER than that the Hornets have covered 5 straight spreads. Somehow, without Chris Paul, New Orleans has won 4 of 5 straight up, but it looks like they might be starting to lose a step. They have shot under 40% in each of their last 2 games, but have been able to manage a 1-1 record in those games only because their opponents played some terrible games. I don't think they can expect the same performance from the Kings, who are great at home. Still, it's worth mentioning that the Hornets have been hitting totals near 200 despite shooting under 40%, so even a marginal game from the field could push this one Over 211. Lean to the Kings, weak lean to the Over.

Lakers/Nets - Lakers by 15 with a total of 192. It's rare I see a line like this one and think "sharp," but that's the exact sensation I got when I looked at it. The Lakers have been winning BIG lately, taking 5 straight games ALL by double digits, and failing to cover just once in those 5. I'd suggest fatigue might play a factor, but as a Cal grad, I know how easy the travel is from Oakland back to Los Angeles, and considering the game against the Warriors was decided by the 3rd quarter, the starters shouldn't be all that pooped. The Nets, meanwhile, I would wager, should be pretty deflated. They had their shot, as most basketball pundits figured if the Nets had any chance to get off the record-nearing schnide, it was against Sacramento. Well, now they have to go to Los Angeles to face the Champs, and this one could get ugly. Their only hope is that the Lakers take them lightly, but to this point, that really hasn't been an issue for LA. I don't know if it's the return of Gasol or the addition of Ron Artest, but the Lakers are playing angrier this year, and just beating teams out of the building. I'm not sure the Nets can score 85, but the Lakers can break 100 against anyone, so I'd avoid this one altogether, much like most of the other games with lines near 15. Hah!

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