Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Getting Out of the Kitchen

Waking up a bit late today as I try to get back on Eastern time, so no hilarious opening paragraph here. Just business today, aside from my cheap shot at Miami in the title!

Oh, by the way, I'm doing some research into a Houston Rockets theory I've developed. I'll try to get some of those thoughts out later today.

Sports Wagering

- Toronto by 7 at home with a total of 212. Toronto, right now, is one of the easiest teams to handicap; they win by a bunch at home, and get their butts kicked on the road...well, except Phoenix, who beat them every which way but sideways in Canada. Luckily, the huge loss to the Suns does help us just a bit in adding value to the Raptors. My main concern in this one is that the Wizards are not exactly an overvalued team right now, and Toronto is doing very little to inspire confidence. The Raptors' defense might be the worst in the NBA, and I don't have to look at numbers to make a claim like that. Washington is coming off a 16-point loss at home to the Charlotte Bobcats, and they looked horrible in that one. They did beat Miami by 10 on the road, and narrowly escaped Philadelphia a game later, but Washington is really bouncing between solid performances and miserable ones. I don't like this spot a great deal for the Wizards, as they host the Bucks tomorrow, and their minds might be on getting home and trying to take down a beatable team. Can Washington score enough to keep up with Toronto? I'm not sure, but that line of 7 is right smack in the middle of the close-game/blowout window. The total of 212 is reachable, but again, it's dependent on Washington getting some easy buckets, and they seem to be just fine going 3 or 4 games at a time without throwing the ball inside the paint. Slight lean to Toronto on the side, even slighter lean to the Under, as Washington has been in a bit of a scoring drought lately.

Bobcats/Celtics - Charlotte getting 3.5 at home with a total of 178. This is an interesting line, and an interesting match-up. Charlotte has been playing outstanding basketball of late, and despite the Celtics' name recognition, I'm a bit surprised the line came out this high. Oddsmakers know they can inflate the Celtics' side, and that might be just the reason why. Initial public money is all over Boston, especially now that they've finally covered 2 games in a row, but Boston remains a disappointing 7-10 ATS. Boston HAS won 4 straight games, but only covered 2 of them, and really didn't look dominant in any of them, aside from what I'd classify as a pretty good 4th quarter, at home, against the lowly Raptors. The Bobcats, meanwhile, are cover machines. They're just 7-9 SU but have posted a wallet-fattening 11-5 mark ATS, including winning and covering 4 straight games. Charlotte doesn't play again until the 4th of the month, and you just know this is a statement game for the up-and-coming youngsters. Boston will probably know they have a target on them tonight, but giving 3.5 points on the road when you're not playing good defense is a recipe for a Celtics disaster. Truthfully, the Bobcats are the team playing the better defense right now -- on their current 4-game win streak, they have held all 4 opponents under 90 points. Medium-size lean to the Bobcats, very slight lean to the Over.

Knicks/Suns - Knicks collecting 7 points at home with a total of 225.5. This is a game I'm just simply not a huge fan of, with Phoenix winning and covering 4 straight, but with a game in Cleveland tomorrow. Classic look-ahead spot for the Suns. In most situations, I'd love to jump on a home dog getting 7 points in such a spot, but this is the Knicks we're talking about here. The Knicks have lost 5 straight games, though, to be fair, they've covered in 3 of the 5. Still, that is a dangerous spot, expecting a team to lose, but cover. They played a great game in Denver, but came up short, then Orlando rolled into New York and beat the Knicks by 12. You really just don't know what you're going to get from them. I'm not going to get into a long story about how this game could play out, but suffice it to say I have a weak lean to New York, and if the line move justifies, we might make a tiny play on them, but no conclusions right now. Phoenix, by the way, has held 3 of their last 4 opponents under 100 points, so this game is really looking to be all sorts of crazy.

Nuggets/Warriors - Denver by 13 with a total of 233.5. First and foremost, I always like to fade teams playing the second half of back-to-back in Denver. The altitude usually takes a serious toll on the players by the 3rd quarter. That doesn't mean we're just going to throw a unit on the Nuggets for the hell of it, because really, as a 13-point favorite, you've really got to "do work" to cover, but it's certainly a move in Denver's direction. The Nuggets are coming off a rare home loss, and to the T'Wolves, no less, so George Karl should have them pretty riled up to bounce back against a suddenly surging Warriors club. Denver's 41% shooting in that game was their worst game since November 11, a road loss to the Bucks, and you just get the feeling they didn't take Minnesota seriously, and got punished for it. If you're not taking the Warriors seriously right now, you'll get slapped again, and I don't think Denver makes that mistake two games in a row. Since the departure of Stephen Jackson, the Warriors are legitimately beating the teams they should beat, losing on the road to teams that are better than them, but also picking up a nice upset or two on their home floor. This situation, though, does not favor them at all. Golden State had a huge second half to blow out the Pacers last night, but it took another superhuman effort from Monta Ellis, and you just get the feeling trying to go into the thin air is going to slow him down just enough for the Nuggets to clamp down. Lean to Denver, and slight lean to the Under, since I don't see the Warriors breaking 210 when they're this tired.

Blazers/Heat - Portland by 7 at home with a total of 185.5. This is the game where I had the strongest initial lean to one side, and that was to Portland. The Blazers, at 7-3 at home, are still one of the toughest clubs to take down on their court -- luckily for us, Portland LOST their last home game to Memphis, then got straight whacked upside the head in Utah the following night. You just have to love when you can get value on a giant, strong team like the Blazers, and this is the very rare occasion when, even at -7, they're still a bargain. I'll try to explain myself here. Portland had won 3 straight games before the 2 losses, and suddenly found themselves trying to beat double-digit home spreads, never an easy task, especially for a team that runs into offensive stagnation issues from time to time. Now, suddenly, that number has dropped back into the singles against a supremely overrated team. I really can't figure why the Heat continue to get as much credit as they do. Miami covered in 6 of their first 7 games, and the public just keeps backing them! It's mind-boggling, since Miami has FAILED to cover in 8 of their last 9, the one ATS victory being the 1-point miracle in Orlando. Miami's defense, the piece of the puzzle that was allowing them to stay in games and win them, has failed them, and I just don't think they have the size or talent (besides Wade, of course) to compete with Portland. Strong lean to Blazers, and if we get some line move confirmation, we'll get down on it. I don't like the total much in this one, though I lean Under with Miami potentially scoring around 85.

Lakers/Hornets - Lakers by 13.5 with a total of 205.5. Well, this is starting to get ridiculous. The Lakers just keep finding ways to cover giant spreads, and I, for one, am thinking I'll stay away from this freight train. The Lakers have been a double-digit favorite in 4 of their last 6 games, and a favorite of 8.5 and 9.5 in the other two games, and they've covered in 5 of 6. It seems like getting Pau Gasol back has really inspired them, and Ron Artest has turned out to be that defensive bulwark that won't let his teammates relax when they take a 17-point lead. I had the pleasure of watching a few of the recent Lakers games while in LA for Thanksgiving, and it seemed like every time LA had a chance to go for the jugular, it was Ron Artest right at the helm of the attack. He nailed a 3 against the Nets to push a 17-point lead to 20, hit a driving lay-up a few minutes later to keep the lead over 20 points, then tossed a perfect lob to Gasol for another 2 easy points. Last year, and even at the start of this season, a Lakers -13.5 line would be an automatic fade, but I'm just staying away from these monster home lines until the Lakers start to get a little over-confident again. What can you say about the Hornets, really? They won a few games using smoke and mirrors, but got clubbed in Sacramento, and remain a dismal 1-8 away from home. No lean on the side in this one, slight lean to the Under with the way the Lakers have been shutting teams down.

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