Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bowling for Buckets, Frame 12

We got one! Sometimes, the key is going back to the basics and just picking the single best game on the card, and yesterday, the Clippers outplayed the Blazers (more aggressive, better shot selection, but missed free throws), only to lose the game but make the cover, and that's all we care about.

Moving forward, the lesson to be learned is that we should never be afraid to make the tough call. Hell, the Sixers beat the Kings for their second straight road win, and making any sort of play on Philadelphia would have qualified for the "close your eyes and click 'submit'" award, as well.

Sports Wagering

Bulls @ Pistons - Pistons by 3.5 with a total of 183. Wow, that is a low, low total, and also, the Pistons and Bulls are being ranked as basically even, and I'm not sure I agree, at least not while Detroit continues to be shorthanded. The Bulls have looked serviceable since Tyrus Thomas returned and since Kirk Hinrich was inserted into the starting lineup, but all of those marginal performances have come at home, where the Bulls are a respectable 10-6. They are 2-11 on the road, though they played 24 outstanding minutes and 24 horrid minutes in their only recent road game in New York. I think we may see a decent game out of Chicago here -- they've been playing much better offensively, and the defense, which was already (we'll call it) "okay" has remained just that, okay. I've been extremely disappointed in the Pistons, but this team is going to have a TON of value as soon as Hamilton, Gordon, Villanueva, Bynum all get their legs back and develop some chemistry with the masking tape and cardboard players that have been holding this raft together in their absence. For now, though, I simply cannot advocate backing this team until we see them turn the corner. Unfortunately, it's tough to know when that's going to happen, and that makes backing Chicago a little scary, since Detroit could "figure it out" any day now. Also, the Pistons don't play again for 5 days, so they might either mail it in or really try to crank out a top-level performance. I think perhaps the value here might be in the total, and I get the feeling that this total is THIS low for a reason. I'm expecting a final score pretty darn close to 183, and I lean slightly to the Under, as I'm looking for a 90-86 victory for the Bulls.

Heat @ Spurs - San Antonio by 7.5 with a total of 195. Tough spot for Miami, rolling into San Antonio fresh off a loss (and failed cover) against the Hornets last night, and when teams go into these back-to-backs in New Orleans/San Antonio/Dallas/Houston or some combination thereof, you can usually get a good idea of how things are going to go by watching the first game of the two. Very, very rarely does a team somehow pull things together in between games and post a monster performance in the second game. That being said, the Heat have been trying to win with defense again, and that is certainly the only chance they've got against the extremely dangerous Spurs. San Antonio is 13-5 at home, they have won 3 straight games (covering all 3), and have achieved victory in 9 of their last 11 contests. This is a team that is getting healthy, especially Manu Ginobili, and his change from 75% to 95% strength is enough to turn San Antonio from a good team to a great one. I don't think Miami has the firepower to keep this one close, and I lean San Antonio to capitalize on the Heat's fatigue for a double-digit win. I also think that Miami suffers on defense first, and I think the Spurs break 100, but I'm just not sure how many points the Heat can put up. I believe 195 is pretty sharp on the total, so more leans to come on this one tomorrow.

Mavericks @ Rockets - Houston getting a point at home with a total of 197. This is already the 4th meeting for these teams, and we're not even in 2010. Dallas won the first two battles, shooting 55% and 65% in those two games. Houston won the 3rd game, holding Dallas to 42% shooting from the field, but still needed overtime to come away with the win. Easily the most interesting note on these games is that ALL THREE have sailed way over the total. 224, 229, 224 are the three totals we've seen so far (of course there was one OT period involved), but these are outrageously high-scoring games, especially for the half-court offense of the Mavs. And yet, here we are, presented with a 197 posted total? You guys know damn well which way I lean on that one. Oddsmakers didn't set this number 20 points lower than the previous meetings without a reason, and that reason is that Dallas is getting healthy bodies back, and they should be able to do a much better job defensively on Houston in this one than last time, and I think Houston is going to really focus on keeping the Mavs from knocking down shots at 50% or higher, so both teams should have an eye on defense first. I also like the fact that this game is basically a pick despite the Mavs being in position to win all 3 games, and settling for a 2-1 mark. I like Houston to win a real battle.

Jazz @ Thunder - Oklahoma City by 3 with a total of 198. How about those Thunder? They just keep rolling, now returning home after a short 2-games-in-2-nights road trip through Jersey and Washington. The Thunder won both of those games, covering both, and this team has now won 4 straight games SU and covered 5 in a row. This is right on that cusp, though, where a team's value is dropping precipitously, but it might be too early to fade a team on a winning streak. The Jazz are coming off a win in Minnesota, avenging two earlier losses to the Wolves, but still a game where Utah had to hold off the Timbercreatures until the bitter end. Utah is liable to be a little tired in this one, and the Thunder are really playing incredibly on the offensive end, averaging almost 108 points over those 5 covers. They are allowing around 100 ppg, as well, but when you're as white-hot as Kevin Durant has been, it almost doesn't matter how well the opponent shoots when you can just roll down the floor and jam. Here, they get a team that may be a little jet-lagged, and it takes an awful lot of energy to defend the various athletic weapons the Thunder can throw at you. I think Durant, Harden and Green have huge advantages over their 2/3 counterparts on the Jazz, but I also think that Boozer should be able to put up a pretty big game. The huge key here is whether or not Russell Westbrook can use some of his strength to slow down Deron Williams. There's certainly no stopping Deron, but even forcing him to work a little harder should be enough to secure a Thunder victory, and the fatigue factor should severely limit the Jazz's ability to crash the boards and exploit the Thunder's weakest spot, which is stopping the "stockier" big men from grabbing offensive boards. Brendan Haywood almost singlehandedly got the Wizards back into that last game. I lean to the home team. I also like the Over here, given Oklahoma's suddenly up-tempo offense and their ability to get open shots earlier in the shot-clock.

Sixers @ Clippers - Clipshow by 2.5 with a total of 196.5. I can't believe I'm saying this, but this game might actually be interesting. Both teams are coming off covers in last night's games, though the Sixers pulled off the upset win in Sacramento, and the Clippers merely didn't lose by much for a Bebe-victory, and a Clippers SU loss. Still, both of these teams are playing, probably, their best basketball of the season, and that's what makes this game so much fun. The Sixers are just destroying over the course of the game, starting slow, but flexing their bench depth in the 2nd and 4th quarters in big wins against both Portland and then Sactown. The Clippers are just starting to play better with the pieces that were already there, but still don't have the fluidity that needs to come with a good team. They outplayed Portland last night -- I watched the game -- they drove the ball harder to the rim, protected their own basket better, but just couldn't hit the big shots, and missed far too many free throws as the Blazers managed to squeeze out a home win. I'm not sure the Clippers should be getting the full home-court advantage in this one, as they are not much better in LA than on the road (in fact, they're basically the same after calculating tonight's game in there). The Clippers are 5-10-1 ATS at home, 7-8 on the road, so not great at either location, but certainly a better bet away. Philly is in almost the same boat: they are actually almost 3 points better on the road than at home, and are 2-12 ATS at home, 10-6 on the road! You want to talk about insanity, there it is right there. This is a huge opportunity for the Sixers to take some great feelings into the new year, and I believe they have the advantage not only in momentum but on the floor. The Sixers depth is better than the Clippers, Elton Brand, Sam Dalembert and Mareese Speights can do a decent job on Chris Kaman, and if Philly can slow down Eric Gordon from the perimeter, I think the Clippers are in trouble. I lean Philly, and I lean Over, as the Clippers managed to push a 202 total across against the defensive-minded Blazers, and now get a lower number against the suddenly attack-minded Sixers.

4 comments:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Oklahoma City Thunder, i have bought tickets from
http://ticketfront.com/event/Oklahoma_City_Thunder-tickets looking forward to it.

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