Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bowling for Buckets, Frame 11 (What Kind of Bowling Is This?)

I feel like I could cut and paste the opening paragraph from yesterday's blog!

Another 1-1 day in the books, another day of small losses with the Free Play winning and the Paid Play losing, which is, of course the one that really hurts.

Oklahoma City came through for us again with a beating in Washington, but the Lakers, despite spending the entire day telling the media their goal was to slow the Warriors to 100 points, went ahead and let Golden State score over 110. I really liked that play with both teams on back-to-backs and the line move supporting our handicapping, but as soon as LA fell behind, they threw defense out the window and somehow won the game despite allowing the Warriors to shoot over 55% from the field!

Sports Wagering

Bucks @ Magic - Orlando by 10.5 with a total of 193. This team has not played in ages! The Magic last played on Christmas Day, so they've had all kinds of time to rest up for this one, a rather uninspiring game against the Bucks. The question is, are they TOO rested? We might very well see the Magic a little out of sync from not playing much, or we might see the tired among them rejuvenated, and maybe Dwight Howard needed a rest. I find it tough to handicap games where one team is coming off half a week without a game. The Magic are, however, coming off that Christmas Day stinker against the Celtics, where they scored but 77 points. This might be a spot where they could look to really take out some aggression on a poor road team. The Bucks have just done nothing lately to inspire confidence, having lost 3 consecutive games, 2 at home and 1 on the road, and none has been close. Milwaukee has been posting FG% numbers in the 30's far too often, and I'm just not sure this one is going to be much different. The Magic have very strong interior defense, which means more jumpshots on the road, a recipe for disaster. Amazingly, I lean to Orlando on the big spread, and I lean to the Under since I don't see the Bucks breaking 90.

Grizzlies @ Pacers - This line is OFF. Yet, we really don't need it to know what to expect. The Pacers stink without Danny Granger, and the Grizzlies have been red, red hot. I wouldn't be surprised to see Memphis as a road favorite in this contest, where the Grizz are 1-0 SU but 0-1 ATS. Still, they missed that cover against Minnesota on the road by 1.5 points, and I don't think it told us much about Memphis. In contrast, the Pacers got trounced in Chicago last night, come home on the second night of a back-to-back, and really couldn't look any worse in the eyes of bettors. Is this a situation where their value is so high that you just have to bet Indy? I don't think so. The Grizzlies have won and covered 4 of 5 games, but haven't been as successful on the road. The Pacers have lost 7 straight, and have been pretty bad both at home and on the road, so no real notes there. I have to lean to Memphis, just because of how bad the Pacers have looked, but the real value in this game might be in the Under. The Pacers are just unable to score right now, and Memphis plays, I'd say, surprisingly decent defense. Let's see where this opens because these two teams have reputations of being up-tempo clubs, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this thing open in the 190's, and the public on the Over. Time will tell, let's get a line and move from there.

Bobcats @ Raptors - Toronto by 5.5 with a total of 195. This is an interesting game, if mostly because I didn't truly remember what Toronto did in their last game before looking it up. As it turns out, the Raptors have quietly won 4 games in a row, covering in all 4, including a home-and-home sweep of the mostly-injured Pistons. Toronto is significantly better at home than they are on the road, and that is presumably why we're seeing a medium-sized spread like this one. This is a clash of two teams with monster home/road splits, where Toronto is 9.8 points better at home than on the road, and the Bobcats are almost 14 points worse on the road than at home. Charlotte just continues to lose on the road, though they have covered a few of those spreads. Is this one of those spots? It's awfully close. I do lean slightly to the home team here to win by 6 or 7, but that might just be too close to call. There just isn't much, if any, value on the Raptors, even though I believe they will win this game without a ton of stress. On the total of 195, I think we have some value on the Under. Both teams have been in a few low-scoring games, and I think Charlotte should be able to defend the Raptors relatively well, I just don't think they'll score.

Hawks @ Cavs - Cavs by 6 with a total of 193. This game is a great rebound spot for the Hawks, and I think there's some value in Atlanta on the ML. The Hawks just got burned by the Cavs AGAIN, this time on their home court, and what's more, Cleveland held the high-flying Hawks to just 10 4th-quarter points! Atlanta will not take kindly to this beating at home, and I expect them to bring every ounce of strength they've got left in tomorrow's contest. It is terribly difficult to beat the same team two times in a row in these home-and-homes, and Cleveland was definitely amped up to play this game on the road and ruin the Hawks' day. I think Cleveland actually used more energy in this game than Atlanta did, believe it or not, and if you don't trust me, go back to yesterday's blog and check out the write-up on that game. All my handicapping numbers showed Atlanta by 3 yesterday, but my gut told me the Cavs were going to dominate, and sometimes you just have to stop crunching numbers and look at a picture of Lebron James. The guy is on a mission, but on the road, the Cavs are at way less of a premium than at home, and the ATS marks show that. Cleveland is 13-6 ATS on the road, and now a perfect 5-0 as an underdog. They do not take kindly to a "+" being next to their name. Now, back home they go as a 6-point favorite, and I think this game could go down to the wire. I also think that the score could be much higher with both defenses a little tired from last night's war. I like the Hawks, and I like the Over.

Knicks @ Nets - This line is OFF. Not positive why. In any case, the Knicks hop a jet out of the snowy mess that is Detroit, Wayne County, and roll back to the eastern seaboard to tackle the hapless Nets. I expect to see the Knicks as slight favorites in this one, and I expect a decent performance out of them, though the back-to-back might be just what the doctor ordered for a Nets cover. I honestly can't believe how terrible the Nets continue to play. They are 2-29 on the season, on pace to lose 70 games, or more! Every day, every time the Nets play, we all keep looking at the team and saying, "This can't really last, can it?" Yet, here we are. Jersey has lost their last 10 games in a row, covering only 2 of those 10, and were actually favored in one of those contests. The Nets' last game was as a 5.5-point home dog to the Thunder, a team slightly better than the Knicks, so I'd wager this game opens with the Nets as a 2.5-3 point underdog. The Knicks don't have any real notable trends on back-to-backs. Yeah, they play a little worse, so maybe this line will open close to a pick because of the fatigue issue, but I think New York on the back-to-back is still stronger than a full-power Nets team. I lean New York for the road win, though we'll see about the line. I think we'll see a fairly low total, and I still lean Under, as the Knicks just keep ratcheting up their defense, and even today managed to squeeze just under the final line. Let's wait and see before we do anything crazy, but those are just a few thoughts about this contest. I really like the problems David Lee can give Brook Lopez, and I think New York has a defensive advantage at every position other than center.

Heat @ Hornets - Hornets by 1.5 with a total of 191. New Orleans returns home off a tough loss in Houston, and the Hornets inability to defend on the road continues. This team is 12-3 at home, and just a miserable 2-13 on the road. They're not terribly impressive ATS in either location, but certainly if they're going to win this one, there's a good chance they're going to cover the spread. A very interesting line, though given the Hornets are returning home on a back-to-back, and the Heat are beginning a quick 2-game, 2-night road trip through N'awleans and San Antonio. Certainly, there may be the tendency for Miami to look ahead a little bit, but I think more often than not when a decent team goes on a fast, tough road trip like this one they are inclined to come together and really put together a nice effort. Miami has won and covered 3 straight games, and 5 of 6, so they're playing good ball, and really dominant defense, and I really feel as though the value here, believe it or not, is actually with the Heat. Chris Paul and company may not have the gusto for all 4 quarters, and despite their strong home performances, I think they may be catching the Heat at the wrong team. Slight lean to Miami. In terms of the total, the Hornets just finished up a very high-scoring game with the Rockets, but amazingly, the game didn't really feature all that many shots. The Rockets just happened to can a ridiculous 12 of 23 long range jumpers, and that's 36 points right there. I think this game could stay Under.

Jazz @ Timberwolves - Jazz by 7.5 with a total of 200. Double revenge for the GOOD team? What the hell is going on here? Minnesota comes home, a fairly long flight back from San Antonio, off a 17-point loss and will try to beat the Jazz for the 3rd time this year in as many tries. This series really seems to be a matchup nightmare for the Jazz, and even after 2 games I still haven't been able to quite put my finger on WHY exactly the Wolves are able to stick it to the Jazz. In terms of matchups, Deron Williams is clearly better than any guard the Wolves can roll out there. My best guess, looking at the old numbers, is that the Wolves have had a slight rebounding advantage, but otherwise, these teams look pretty evenly matched. Hell, the Jazz have shot over 50% in both of their losses, but the Wolves shot 57% and 49%, so they've been no slouches, either. I have to think that this line is as high as it is because not only are the Wolves coming home on a back-to-back, but the Jazz are on double revenge. I find it exceedingly difficult to swallow that the Wolves will beat Utah 3 times in a month. This side is a pass for me right now, given the strange match-ups, and it is indeed a divisional game, but man...anyway, in terms of the total, the two previous games have been totals of 209 and 218, and we're seeing this one at 200? A little fishy if you ask me. If this line makes an initial move to 199, I think we might jump on the Under.

Celtics @ Suns - Suns by 1 with a total of 209. This should be a good one. The Celtics roll into the Valley of the Sun having lost back-to-back terrible games to the Clippers and Warriors. You want to talk about a team ready to release some anger? The Celtics haven't had this much value in quite some time, but the Suns are not going to be easy to slow down here. Phoenix shoots the ball so well at home, and we got a full display of that when they rained 3's down upon the Lakers in their last win. The Suns seem ripe for a slight letdown, even though the Celtics are in town, and the Celtics seem ripe for, well, playing like an underdog, nipping and snapping their way through all 48 minutes. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the Celtics have been an underdog twice, and they're 2-0. Dangerous spot to back Phoenix, but they've surprised us before. Can the Celtics get the energy up for the final game on this road trip, or will they roll over and head home with their tail between their legs. This team just doesn't feel like a tail-down club. I lean to Boston. On the total, Phoenix is going to try to go at 200 mph and Boston is going to try to go 15 mph, and I think this total is pretty close to accurate. I lean just slightly to the Under since I think Boston really works hard to dictate the tempo.

Sixers @ Kings - This line is OFF. Well, how about those darn Sixers? Off a terrible game in Utah, they stomped Portland in the second half at the Rose Garden, and now they take their traveling roadshow to Northern California to meet the Kings. I would expect to see Sacramento favored by 3-5 points in this one, and I honestly have no strong feelings either way. The Sixers are alternating between 3-4 horrid performances and 1 very good one, and I haven't found the pattern. This team is actually slightly better on the road than at home, and I would wager the good vibes they built in the second half in Portland might carry into the first quarter or first half in Sacramento, but those Kings are very, very tough at home, and the Sixers have the second part of a back-to-back with the Clippers tomorrow. The Kings are 11-5 at home, and most people remember their last 2 home losses, which came in OT to the Cavs, and 2OT to the Lakers. If you're going to beat Sacramento in Sactown, you're going to have to do it when they just forget to show up, and I don't see that being the case here. The Kings' next game is indeed with the Lakers, but that's not until Jan 1, so they have a day off between contests. I think this could be a high scoring game more than anything else, I lean to the Over.

Clippers @ Blazers - Portland by 7.5 with a total of 189. Well, LAC beat the Celtics, but that might very well be the high point of this season. Portland just lost to the Sixers in the Rose Garden is a letdown game after the emotional win over the Nuggets on Christmas. Now we see the resilience of this club. Will they bounce back after taking an off day to collect their breath, or will they continue to slide after the long win streak came to an end? Well, with a young team, I usually like to fade them coming off a long win streak. It seems to take more than one day to get the positive thoughts going again, and I think the Clippers might be able to capitalize when Portland comes out sluggish in the first half. Hell, the Blazers might wake up part way through this game, and they could still cover, but if the Clips can get any kind of a lead, that certainly feels good when you can also attach 7.5 points to that underdog lead. That being said, I'm not sure the Clippers have the firepower to shoot 57% for a game like the Sixers did. That looked like it might have been a little bit of a fluke. The Clippers remain one of the poorer teams in the NBA, and easily the best reason for considering LA in this game is because they're only 1 point worse on the road than at home. The only reason to consider Portland is because they would seem to be the better team. It's a tough call, but I lean Clippers, and I lean way, way Under. These teams seem ripe for a total in the 170's.

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