Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bowling for Buckets, Frame 2

Our first day of studying NBA across the street from bowlgametown restaurant was a mixed bag. We lost our top play on the Charlotte Bobcats, but managed to pick up wins on the Magic (our Free Play), and the Prop Bet of the Day with Luol Deng scoring and rebounding well over 24 combined ticks. So, in two days as a Pro, we remain winners, even though I'd certainly like the numbers to be more impressive than they are! (+1 unit on Props, -0.15 units on sides/totals)

Going forward, I learned that the Bobcats have no clue how to defend the Jazz's style of offense. I truly thought Larry Brown would have his guys ready for Jerry Sloan's system, but it just wasn't meant to be, and the mental aptitude of a team has to be taken into account before asking them to cover against Utah. I hate to say it, but I think we saw last night that the Bobcats are a good home team, but not very smart. They're extremely athletic, and can guard most normal offensive sets, but Utah's unique series of back-screens, cuts and passes were just too much for Charlotte to handle. I didn't watch the game, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me Tyson Chandler was day-to-day with a partially ruptured neural synapse.

Sports Wagering

Hornets @ Raptors - Toronto by 2.5 with a total of 205. Both teams are coming off nice wins, so there isn't really a huge perception edge, though the Hornets have the truly marquee player in Chris Paul, and they're coming off a win over Denver, much more impressive than Toronto's thumping of the Nets. This is an interesting matchup, in that the Hornets have covered 3 straight games, but continue to do the majority of their straight up damage at home. New Orleans is 10-3 at home, 2-10 on the road, with a scoring differential of 9.5 points. The Raptors are 8-5 at home, 4-12 on the road with an even steeper scoring differential of 11.5. So, given the huge home/road splits, it's no surprise to see the Raptors as a small favorite. I think we'll see the public come in on the Hornets, and we'll know more about that by tomorrow morning, but won't have much time to react. For that reason, I will not put out a paid play on this game for any reason, but I may have a play to offer on it for free. I lean to the Raptors, and to the Under, since I think we see the Hornets run into scoring troubles - more to come bright and early.

Nuggets @ Grizzlies - This line is OFF, which unfortunately means we're not going to have a great deal of time to react to it, tomorrow. This could actually be a really, really entertaining game. The Nuggets are not the same team on the road that they are at home, as evidenced by a disappointing loss in New Orleans, and they're definitely not the same team without Chauncey Billups that they are with him. Denver is a Phoenix-like 12-1 at home, but a rather pedestrian 7-7 away from the altitude. They are playing without a killer instinct right now, so even when they do take a lead, it seems to shrink long before it grows. Denver has failed to cover in 5 of their last 6 games, but they're still the team with Carmelo, Kenyon Martin, Nene, J.R. Smith and Chauncey, and the team that the public knows and loves even when they're not playing that well. I expect to see the Nuggets open as a very slight road favorite, perhaps between 2-4, and I expect the public to hammer that small favorite line and get us a better deal on the other side. I rather like the Grizzlies in this spot. Memphis is coming off a win (and cover) against the Pacers at home, and they have played very well against some tough teams in their home building, coming up with wins against Cleveland and Dallas at home, and a cover against the Celtics. I can't help but think the Grizz have a nice shot to win this game. Memphis has a home/road point split of 8.4 points, and the Nuggets have one of almost 11, so the home edge should be huge in this Sunday afternoon tilt. I expect a total in the 210 neighborhood, and I like Grizz and the Under.

Blazers @ Heat - Miami by 5 with a total of 187. This is one of those games where you put two defensive-minded clubs in the same place, and all of a sudden someone is winning 105 to 100. I really don't like to wager on totals between two teams that play exactly the same style of basketball in all other games, because one team usually feels the need to change up their style to beat the other. Still, you have to at least look at the Under, since these two teams are among the league's slowest, in terms of shots per game. Portland is also coming off a slow, plodding loss in Orlando last night, and a game that they saw slip away in a matter of moments late in the 4th quarter. Portland led most of the night, in fact, then suddenly found themselves down 11 points with a minute to go. I think the reverse momentum of Portland's ugly 4th quarter has a strong chance of carrying over into the start of this one, and I expect Miami to get out to a lead. I like the way the Heat have been playing, winning and covering 2 straight home games after Dwyane Wade called his teammates out for not playing their hardest. That type of momentum usually carries until a team heads back on the road, when suddenly the hotel mini-bar schnapps takes precedence over a good night's rest and ultimate focus. Still, Miami is at home now, and taking on a rather poor road team in the Blazers. Portland moved to 6-8 away from home with the loss last night, and is still hunting for some way to get consistent scoring and defense with many of their key pieces injured. I lean Heat and Under.

Lakers @ Pistons - This line is OFF, since Detroit is still looking, hoping, praying that they can get some healthy bodies back. An interesting spot for both teams, too, so I'm anxious to see where this line opens. My guess, based on power rankings, would be Lakers by 9, roughly, but we'll see how close it is to that. Obviously, the public is going to back the Lakers, there's no question about that, especially coming off a road drubbing of the Nets, who should probably consider canceling games before they play them, at this point. But hey, this game isn't about the Nets, it's about the public's perception that the Lakers are indestructible, and that's just not true. The Lakers are only 11-14 ATS this year, so they do tend to let teams back into games, but those teams have to play with some heart. My biggest concern with the underdog in this one (besides the fact that the Pistons will likely be without Rip and Tayshaun again, and maybe Gordon, too), is that Detroit is set to play their first home game after a brutal 3-game road trip. Fortunately, they go back out on the road for the next game, so this isn't really a traditional homestand, more like a road stop in a familiar arena with fans that cheer more. I think we'll see a big line, and I obviously lean to the dog, but the better value in games with huge spreads like this one might be to take a peek at the total and consider an Under, since the Pistons know they have zero chance of beating the Lakers in a shootout.

Timberwolves @ Celtics - Boston by 14 with a total of 197. These numbers don't match up. Just stop and think for a moment how many points the Celtics would need to score to still win by 14 and hit that total. The absolute lowest would be a 106-92 victory. Okay, so more than likely, if the Celtics cover, this game will probably stay Under. If the Wolves can keep up, we've got a nice chance of hitting the Over. This line seems awfully inflated, especially given the fact that Boston has really not been all that great at home. They've mostly found ways to win home games, but they're just 4-8 ATS in their own building, and are coming off an upset loss at the hands of the Sixers. Amazingly, and I typed it a few days ago, but it bears repeating, Boston wins by an average of 9.6 points on the road, and by an average of 8.8 points at home! They are actually a BETTER road team, and it's not a mismatch of talent - they've played decent teams both at home and on the road. I just love fading the Celtics in Boston, and I think we may have another opportunity to at least lean that way, here. Minnesota matches up well with Boston, as evidenced by a 2-point loss to Boston when they played in Minnesota earlier this year. Minnesota has covered 8 of 10 games this month, as well, and I maintain that the biggest reason why is their improved team rebounding since the return of Kevin Love. In the Wolves 10 games in December, they have outrebounded their opponents in 7, and they have covered all 7 of those spreads. They are 1-2 ATS when they lose the rebounding battle. They outrebounded Boston the last time they met, and that was without Love, so this game bodes well for the Wolves. I lean to the road dog, and to the Over.

Bobcats @ Knicks - Knicks by 3 with a total of 193. I was rather hoping the Bobcats would win last night, not just because it was my Pro Play, but also because it would create better value with the Knicks in this one. Instead, now, folks are going to see the Bobcats as the weak team, and we're going to likely have to fight with the public to get the better line on New York, if we so desire. I lean Knicks on handicapping numbers alone, but now we really have to watch the line movement like a hawk to make sure we're not going to get suckered. The Bobcats, obviously, are on a back-to-back, and the Knicks are in a revenge spot after losing to the Bobcats in Charlotte just a few days ago. It is NOT easy to beat the same team twice in two games this close to one another, and we all know about the Bobcats issues on the road. So why is this line only 3 points? That's the point of concern. The Knicks are coming off a win over the suddenly hot Clippers, so it's not as though they haven't been playing well. Their next game isn't for two days, and they host Chicago, so it's not a look-ahead spot, and the Bobcats have shown zero ability to play in pressure road spots, and I'd go out on a limb and say Madison Square Garden is a true road venue. I can't help but lean to the home fave, but let's keep a close eye on the line in case we can spot a trap, if indeed there is one set. The total of 193 seems very low, which also raises red flags that the Knicks may struggle to score. Let's wait and see, here.

Cavs @ Mavs - Had to type this one using the abbreviated nicknames, just because it was fun. There's no line yet, so I'm locating joy where I can. This should be a hell of a game, and I'm anxiously awaiting a line. Dallas has been playing excellent basketball, but may be without their superstar, since Dirk Nowitzki has a few of Carl Landry's teeth lodged in his shooting elbow. Unfortunately, I can't really recommend making a play on this game unless we know his status. Many teams step up with their star out, but I just don't see that being the case for Dallas without Dirk; he's just too important. The Cavs should be able to push the Mavs around a fair amount if Dallas is relying on J.J. Barea and Jason Terry for most of their offense. The best bet in this one might be to take the Over. The oddsmakers are going to adjust the total if Dirk is out, and the Mavs are going to be forced to run like hell if they want to win without him. Both of these teams are half-court teams when they're healthy, but the Mavs will be well-aware of their shortcomings without their 25-point German machine, and they just simply become much easier to defend. Let's wait on this one.

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