Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bowling for Buckets, Frame 8

Need to be awake in less than 6 hours to get the podcast up and running, so no time tonight for clever witticisms.

We nailed our Top Play last night on the Nets, breaking open the Magical New Jersey Pinata for a unit of profit, before giving back half of it with a Free Play loss on the San Antonio-Milwaukee Under. Still, 1-1 for a profit of roughly half a unit is just fine! If we could do just that every night, we'd be up nearly 180 units in a year, so we should never underestimate a small winning day.

Sports Wagering

Pistons @ Raptors
- This line is OFF. I'm just not sure I can recommend a play on the Pistons no matter who they're playing or the spread right now, as this team is so severely undermanned, they just don't have a chance. They got beat by THIRTY by these very same Raptors in Detroit, and it is very, very difficult to beat the same team twice in rapid succession, but again, I'm just not confident that the Pistons have enough healthy bodies to compete, even in this revenge spot, and an embarrassing revenge spot, at that. I expect to see this line open up with the Raptors favored by 7 or 8, and I still lean their direction. These early Sunday games are often pretty sleepy, especially for the visitors, and with the Raptors not really looking ahead to anything of importance, they should have decent focus in this one, ready to deal out another butt-kicking. The last game between these two teams ended with a total in the 150's, so I actually think there may be some value in the Over due to the possibility of a deflated line. These early games are tough to pick, especially when we don't have a line until about 2 hours before gametime. There are simply better values out there, and I advise passing on this one.

Pacers @ Heat - Miami by 8 with a total of 194.5. Don't look now, but the Heat have quietly won 4 of 5 games, and covered all 4 of the wins, and they've done it with defense. 3 of those 4 wins have stayed Under the total, and not surprisingly, their one loss in those 5 games went Over the total. Here, Miami's defense shouldn't really be tested. The Pacers, formally a run-n-gun team, have taken their foot off the gas pedal since Danny Granger went down, and while their game last night with the Hawks did go Over the total by 5 points, they had previously been on a streak of 4 straight games going Under. I think the public ends up backing the Over in this game because of names like Dwyane Wade and the misconception that the Pacers are still fast-paced. My concern in this one is that Indiana might actually try to run a little bit, as they simply don't stand a chance in a half-court game. I think the tempo should be pretty slow, but if Indy does push it for even 2 of the 4 quarters, we could see this game shoot over the posted total. I still lean Under. In terms of the side, well, it's tough to give Indiana much credit here. They're on the second night of a back-to-back, after losing to the Hawks, at home, by 12, and they have now lost 5 straight games. They might cover, but I'm not willing to advise taking that chance, since the Heat are in perfectly fine position to win this one by double digits. No real lean on the side, maybe just slightly to the home team.

Rockets @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 8.5 with a total of 194. Tough spot for Houston, and they really made it tougher. The Rockets got out to a quick lead against the Nets, but had to fight right until the end, prevailing over the Nets by just 5 points. They then hopped a plane and cruised into Cleveland, a little worse for their wear, and now forced to deal with Lebron and James' Court. I always find these types of spread swings interesting, though. Houston was a 9-point favorite in New Jersey, and now they're basically a 9 point underdog in Cleveland, a blistering 18-point swing. Excluding the 2 points for the back-to-back spot, is Cleveland really 16 points better than New Jersey on a neutral court? I suppose it's possible, but I can't help but think we're actually getting a little value here with the Rockets. The Cavs have been storming, blowing the doors off opposing buildings on a recently completed 3-1 road trip through 4 tough venues. Because of that, this team has next to no value, and I would say definitively to avoid betting the Cavs in this game as a result of that. If they DO cover, it's certainly not a situation that happens more than 40% of the time. Cleveland is playing in their first home game after the Christmas Day blowout of the Lakers, a prime letdown spot, especially against a Rockets team that SHOULD be tired. On the contrary, I think the Rockets were sluggish against Jersey, and I think they wake up for this one. The Shane Battier Doctrine is being invoked for this one, too. Cleveland has a home-and-home coming up with the Hawks, so they might also be looking past Houston just a bit, and for me, it's Rockets on the side, or nothing. I am slightly concerned that Houston beat Cleveland by 10 earlier this year, so there may be some slight revenge, but I also think that Houston just matches up really well with Cleveland. I think the total should stay Under, again citing the letdown spot for Cleveland and the slight fatigue for Houston leading to a slower-than-expected contest.

Spurs @ Knicks - San Antonio by 2.5 with a total of 196.5. Second verse, same as the first. The Spurs favored by a tiny margin on the road, though this time they're on the second half of a back-to-back, and fresh off a clubbing of the Bucks, shooting 58% for the great majority of the game. There is the philosophy that good vibes can carry over easier on back-to-backs, and that may be true, especially with the big win giving the Spurs' starters a little more rest, but I'm just not sure that 58% can happen two games in a row, not for a team that had previously shown almost no road aptitude for winning. I'm quite pleased the Spurs beat the pants off the Bucks, because I believe that will create more value for the Knicks in this one. I already liked New York, and now with the public likely taking a shine to the Spurs off their win against the Bucks, New York may have a greater edge. My favorite part about this match-up is that the Knicks have been playing good defense lately, and people still haven't quite caught on. They have played to 6 consecutive Unders, and neither team has broken 100 in any of those 6 games. Yet again, we see a total just a shade under 200, and it would feel as though, barring a 99-98 end to this game, someone is going to have to clear 100 points to get us to this total, and I'm not sure that happens. With the Spurs due for a poorer night, coming off the "basket looks like an olympic pool" effort in Milwaukee, and New York enjoying the half-court success, I like the Knicks, and I like the Under.

Mavericks @ Nuggets - Denver by 6.5 with a total of 207. The number one thing to consider for this game is that the Nuggets are simply lethal at home. They are 13-1 when they get to bring unsuspecting victims into the altitude, and a less-impressive-but-still-solid 9-5 ATS mark at home, too. If there's one thing you can say about this team lately, it's that they are a home/road Jekyll/Hyde case. They've won their last 6 home games, and lost their last 5 road contests. So, I just can't advise playing against Denver when they are IN Denver, as is the case here. Can they cover the 6.5, is the real question, since it seems almost inevitable they will beat any team they're not looking past. The Mavs are certainly good enough to draw Denver's attention, but a lot rests on Chauncey Billups, a bit of a question mark. Dallas is coming off a home win (ATS loss) against the Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon, and the back-to-back in altitude is never a good spot. Having the game with Memphis earlier certainly helps a little bit since they won't get into Denver in the wee hours of the morning, but it's just so tough to get the leg strength back up when oxygen is at a premium. The Mavs have been known, though, to come out strong when the stakes are high. They are 10-4 on the road this season, both SU and ATS, so Dallas has surprised a few bettors with road success, a divergence from their usual home-heavy record. I still lean Denver, though, courtesy of the altitude, but not as strongly as if the opponent wasn't such a skilled road team. I like the Under, too, given the altitude and that I think these teams get into a bit of a slugfest.

Celtics @ Clippers - This line is OFF. Not the Boston-LA matchup we want to see, but it's a game, and every game has a winner...except the MLB All Star game, I guess. In any case, this should be an interesting line, if not quite such an interesting game. Well, the initial impression I get is that the Clippers couldn't look any worse in the eyes of the public coming off that Christmas Day 31-point loss to the Suns. At the same time, the Celtics can't look much better to the public, beating Orlando in a defensive struggle without Paul Pierce. So this should be an easy winner for Boston, right? Wrong. Spreads don't work that way, and I'm extremely curious to see where oddsmakers open this line. For the Clippers, this game is their first home game since December 14th, so there is liable to be some sluggishness for the home team, but for the Celtics, there's just no way they take this game seriously, and they also have a high-octane match coming up tomorrow with the Warriors in Oakland. Not that it's a look-ahead spot, but you just know the Celtics are going to try to do away with the Clippers without using all their strength, maybe save a little for the next one, and the emotional letdown after Orlando could very well rear its ugly head. Damn, if Boston isn't a terribly tough team to fade on the road, though. The Clippers are not a good home team, and Boston is 13-1 on the road. Everything here seems to line up for Boston, and the opening line and the initial move will tell us everything we need to know about this game. I think we'll see a total in the high 180's, and I lean Under, believe it or not.

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