Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bowling for Buckets, Frame 3

I hate to have to start by saying this, but yesterday did not go well. The Paid Play lost on Tennessee due to some poor 4th quarter play from the Titans and some ridiculously bad luck; the Free Play lost on Pittsburgh, as they won the game by 1 but failed to cover the line we got of -2; and the Podcast Play of the Day on the Under in San Diego-Cincinnati lost, as well. Everything I touched turned to turd.

Which makes me extra-happy to be looking back at NBA. Bowl season continues in College Football, today being day three, and that means we might get some soft lines once again!

Sports Wagering

Bucks @ Pacers
- Indiana by 2.5 with a total of 202.5. Apparently, the Pacers have done enough to convince oddsmakers that they're good enough to warrant being a small favorite. I'm not sure I agree. Obviously, this isn't the world's best spot for a visitor, as the Bucks are coming into town off a painfully close defeat at the hands of the Sacramento Kings (a fairly open layup being the game-ender). Still, sometimes a loss in the game before, especially one with an ending that airs constantly on SportsCenter can actually be helpful for us. The Pacers are not a good team, let's face it. They're 3-7 this month, 4-6 ATS, and coming off a buzzer-beating loss of their own in San Antonio. Indiana is only 6-6 at home this year, and indeed they have won their last 2 home games, but those were over the Bobcats and Nets, two teams that can't win on the road, and can't win anywhere, respectively. Here, they face a team that is one tiny rung up on the ladder. The Bucks still aren't very good on the road, but they have covered 3 of their 4 road games this year, all as dogs. They're losing games straight up, though, and that is a point of concern. When you're only getting 2.5 points, it isn't too easy to lose straight up and still cover. I lean to the road Buckaroos, but not strong enough to make any sort of move on it. I also lean to the Under, as I don't see Milwaukee trying to get into a shoot-out. Scott Skiles prefers a defensive game, and Indiana can't run n' gun the same way without Granger.

Jazz @ Magic - Orlando by 7.5 with a total of 204. This could be a fun one. The Magic covered in their last game against the Blazers, but in all honesty, they haven't been impressing me much beyond that narrow cover. They've scored just 86 and 92 points in their last two games, and have shot 43 and 42% from the field. Now, that being said, the Jazz defense is significantly more porous than those of the Heat and Blazers, so that percentage should jump just a bit, but this will also be a more the potent offense than the Blazers. I'm a little afraid to make a call either way on this game, as we all know the Magic have enough weapons to open up an 8-point awfully fast, even if the Jazz are outplaying them. Orlando has gone Under the total in 4 of the last 5 games, so perhaps looking at the total may be the way we want to go. Utah has traded off wins and losses in their last 5 games both straight up and ATS, so they're apparently due for a loss on both fronts, but we all know that's not really how things work. The Jazz got a monster road win over the Bobcats (to my chagrin), so the value isn't really with either team. I really don't like betting two teams both coming off wins/covers, since the perception gives us zero edge. I have a feeling that the real road Jazz show their colors in this one, and the Magic win by 9 or 10, so I would lean to the home square choice, but I doubt I'll have a play on the side. The public is probably going to embrace the Over, since the Jazz generally play high scoring games, but I get the feeling we'll see more defense in this one than most expect.

Kings @ Bulls - Chicago by 4 with a total of 200.5. Why couldn't the Kings have lost in Milwaukee? Curses! That would have been a nice situational spot, instead we have two teams coming off big wins. The Kings' win was large because they improved to TWO-11 away from home, and had to be a nice confidence boost, and the Bulls win was large because, well, it came against the vastly superior Hawks in OT. I think the value is with the Kings in this game, but the Bulls are suddenly waking up at home, and this game will conclude the homestand, so they'll likely want to wrap up the stint in Chicago with a nice little mark. The Bulls have covered 3 straight games, which makes going against them a little scary, even though they're suddenly giving up more than a possession's worth of points. When I keep seeing matchups like these, as multiple games on this card seem to have similar feels, I usually take a peek at the total. I think this game has a great shot of going Under. The Kings have played 2 straight Unders, but when the public thinks of Sacramento, they envision high-flying, zero-defense basketball. The Bulls had a supremely high-scoring game against the Hawks, but that involved overtime, and was also a situation where Chicago just turned up the scoring. This one has value on the Under, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Under get steamed before most west-coasters wake up tomorrow.

Clippers @ Spurs - San Antonio by 9 with a total of 193. So, San Antonio escaped from Indiana in their first game home off a road trip, and now, after a few days to catch up on rest, they host the better-on-the-road LA Clippers, who grabbed an OT win in Philadelphia their last time out. This is game four of six on the Clippers current road trip, which continues tomorrow with another one in Houston, so a tiring spot for the Clippers, to be sure. I think what all this information tell us is that it's extremely risky to put money on the Clippers, as we don't know how they'll approach the back-to-back, even though they're a decent road team. I also feel it's risky to put money on a team favored by 9 in almost any scenario. The Spurs have won 5 of 6 games, and when they get the motor going at home, they can certainly win by double digits, but I like the way the Clippers have been playing far too much to advocate a play on San Antonio. As you'll hear about on the next episode of "Today in Sports Betting", when there are this many reasons to take both teams, it's best to take neither. No lean on the side, lean to the Under on the total, since the Clippers are not about to push the pace.

Cavs @ Suns - The marquee game of the night, to be sure, Lebron heads into the Valley of the Sun to tackle Steve Nash, and the undefeated-at-home Suns, with Phoenix favored by 2.5 with a total of 209. How about that performance by the Dirk-less Mavs last night? The line move on that game was far too screwy to make a play on either team (I believe Guevones pointed out that the Cavs were a Morrison "A" bet?), and once again it led to extremely powerful value on the home team, as it looks like books are indeed beginning to pre-adjust for the public money. Along the same vein, though, they're not moving the line the full 3 points that the Morrison system instructs the followers to buy. Thus, the books are merely taking 1-2 points of value away from the Morrison folks (really hurting their odds in the long run). From a mathematical standpoint, we need to realize that if books know they're going to get a certain rush of money on one team, they're not that concerned with which team is going to win, as long as they can now get 50% of money on both teams. They know sharps are going to jump on the non-Morrison team if they're getting an extra point of value every time (those 15 cents will add up!), but as long as one team is losing -- they always do -- the books can still win. So, we do need to be judicious when we fade Morrison. Last night was a little scary. Tonight might be equally frightening. Cleveland definitely did not cover the Morrison 3 points, so I can only assume they'll be a "B" bet in this game, and we might see the Suns line drop like the Mavs line did, and at this point, I can't in my right mind tell people to play against the Suns when they're at home. Phoenix is a perfect 10-0 in their own building after wrecking the Wizards on Saturday. The Cavs are historically not great on back-to-backs, and they haven't been all that dominant on the road, but coming off the loss in Dallas, you can imagine they'll be a little perturbed. The value is, amazingly, with Cleveland, but again, playing against Phoenix at home right now is like playing against Peyton Manning in the NFL - it keeps LOOKING good, but when the game ends, you lost. I lean Phoenix, and I think the total is pretty close. Each team is going to try to force their preferred tempo on the other, which makes me think Cleveland tries to keep this thing closer to 100. Cleveland has won and covered the last 3 meetings between these teams, but Phoenix may look to avenge the loss in Cleveland just 3 weeks ago. Be careful here.

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