Monday, December 14, 2009

No Blake Griffin, No Thanks

Just my way of saying that I would go to a Clippers game to catch up on rest.

Once we get back to Tuesday, I'll come up with some clever thoughts for the opening, but given that everyone is going to be gearing up for Monday Night Football all day, I just figure I'll get down to business and offer some (potentially) winning thoughts on tonight's games. Looking forward to a normal NBA card, since yesterday's was junk!

Sports Wagering

Magic/Pacers - This line is OFF. Interestingly, the Pacers are the hotter team among these two. Indiana has quietly (and I mean very quietly) won a pair of games, at home against Jersey, then on the road against Washington, and we're seeing the age-old situation of a random group of role-players stepping up when their star goes down. This team still isn't good by any stretch, but they are still a decent value, no matter the spread, as most folks are still way down on the Pacers, and here they play one of the league's marquee teams. I expect the public to be heavy on Orlando, even if we're looking at a spread near 10, and while I'm not advising a play on either side, the Pacers back-to-back easy covers certainly bode better than the Magic's back-to-back losses to conclude their 4-game road trip. The first game home is never an easy one, as we've talked about ad nauseum, and I think we see Orlando take at least a quarter off in this one, much the way we saw Denver kind of mail in the first half against Phoenix a couple days back. I think when all is said and done, the Magic will win this game, but I think the Pacers will cover the likely large spread. I think the Under also has some value, with the Magic playing their first game home after a medium-length road trip, and both teams have been going against competition with poor defense, so the total will be inflated.

Sixers/Warriors - Philadelphia by 4 with a total of 210. I have to say, I am positively floored that the Sixers are a favorite of more than a point or two in this one, and I can't really say why. The Sixers have lost every game they can see in the rear view mirror, and with Iverson suddenly banged up so shortly after signing, the dysfunction and disarray seem to be spiraling out of control. They've covered in 5 of their last 10 (despite losing all of those games straight up), but as for reasons why the Sixers are laying more than the "home court 3", I just have no idea. I am forced to lean to the Warriors, as I strongly feel Golden State wins this game outright. The Warriors are not exactly a shining beacon of basketball hope and skill, but they are beating the teams they should beat, and losing to the teams better than them (or to equally skilled teams in better situational spots). The Warriors are extremely short-handed, which made their last game in Detroit especially tough on the second half of a back-to-back, but now they've had a day to rest up, and can focus their efforts on the sinking Sixers. Admittedly, the Warriors have not been very good on the road, but this is the type of game I'd expect to remain close. They have a better offense than Philly, and the Sixers next game is with the Cavs, so it might even be a slight look-ahead spot, despite the losing skid. The Warriors have also beaten the Sixers in 6 of the last 7 times these teams have met. In terms of the total, we're actually getting some value on the Over because of both teams playing some low-scoring games of late.

Grizzlies/Celtics - Memphis is getting 9 at home with a total of 194.5. That is just a ton of points to be getting at home, but this is a tough spot for the Grizzlies. Memphis has been playing excellent basketball, winning 4 of their last 5 games SU, including last night's 18-point underdog outright beating of the Miami Heat. When I see a home team getting this points, I am always going to look for reasons to back the home dog, but scheduling has made this one pretty tough. The Celtics have won 10 in a row, and conclude a short 3-game road trip with this game in Memphis. The failed to cover in Washington, but blew the Bulls out of their own building on Saturday, showing once again how dangerous this team can be on the road. It seems like oddsmakers are starting to get the picture that the Celtics need to be favored large on the road, and maybe only a point or two more at home, instead of the usual 6. When we see a large line like this one in a game involving the Celtics, one thing we need to watch out for is spotting the difference between an inflated line, and a trap line. The public will almost always put their small tickets on the marquee team with all the big-name players, but is this line this huge for a reason? If this line drops from 9, we might have ourselves a nice underdog spot; if the line continues to rise, be very careful. I will also note that I love the way Memphis has been playing against better teams. The Grizzlies beat Dallas and Cleveland during their recent stretch of solid ball, so they're not going to back down from the good teams. With the Grizz on a back-to-back, I'm apprehensive about the total, but I'd have to lean Over due to the Celtics recent ability to score.

Mavericks/Hornets - Mavs by 8 at home with a total of 196. This seems like a hefty spread for a game involving Chris Paul, but I must say, I am still more inclined to stick with my recent philosophy of letting the Hornets readjust to playing with their leader before taking a side in their games. The Hornets have won 3 of their last 4 games, but they haven't covered any of them, and I think we're finally seeing the oddsmakers adjust for this one. New Orleans is just not that good of a team, and they're all out of whack offensively. When Paul went down, we saw a 3-point barrage, but that type of offense can never last, and now they're finding ways to beat the bad teams when playing at home, but this is going to be a road test that I believe the Hornets fail. The Mavs have won 3 straight, but only covered 1 of those 3 games, so we're really staring down the barrel of two teams that can't find ways to cover. The stats and recent trends would point to the fact that neither team is worth your money, though I guess if we have two teams that can't cover as favorites, you'd have to take the dog. I'd rather take nothing, unless we see something insane happen to the line during the day. The total of 196 feels extremely high with the way these two teams have been playing; I think the best value in this game is on the Under.

Jazz/Timberwolves - The Jazz by 13 with a total of 200.5. Well, you know when I see a spread this huge, the first thing I'm going to do is try to find a reason to back the dog, and truth be told, Minnesota has given us a few reasons lately, though none belong in a win column. The Wolves have lost 4 straight and 6 of 7, but they've managed to cover 6 of those 7 games, as well. Unfortunately, the only ATS loss came in their last game, as a 7-point dog in Sacramento. It was only the second game that has seen Minnesota get outrebounded this month, but tonight is going to be another tough one. Utah's playing their best basketball all season long, and are coming off an 8-point win over the Lakers at home, but this might be the world's best time to go against them, using the monster spread in our favor, of course. The Jazz are probably never going to be this highly thought-of by the betting public again, at least not for the next few months, and this is a prime letdown spot for Utah, coming off the authoritative victory over LA. My one huge concern is that the Jazz actually lost to the Wolves in Minnesota, so will this game become a revenge spot, or was that game more an example that Minnesota matches up well with Utah. I like the Wolves rebounding ability, but I'm not sure anyone can actually guard Carlos Boozer or Deron Williams right now. I lean to the Wolves, but this game smells like a pass. The Wolves have been playing decent defense lately, but this total is also a weak one.

Nuggets/Thunder - Nuggets by 10 with a total of 208. This line is hefty because of the situation. The Thunder played yesterday, losing at home to the Cavs after faltering big-time offensively in the second half. They had to travel well into the night, and need to play today in the altitude, against a Nuggets team that is well-rested, and is playing their second game of a short homestand. Basically, then, it's a good spot for Denver, a bad spot for Oklahoma City, and so we see a double-digit spread. The Thunder, though, are not coming from the west coast, so the time difference didn't hit them much, and with yesterday's game being a bit earlier (not much, but enough), I don't think the Thunder are going to be quite as adversely effected as some other teams arriving in Denver on the second day of a back-to-back. It is interesting to see such a large line, though, with Denver failing to cover the spread in 3 straight games. Something smells fishy about this game, something I'm currently overlooking, and yes, I do miss things sometimes. I would say the best strategy in this one is to check out the first half, and if the Thunder are hanging close, it might be a good spot to back the Nuggets in the second half, and so on and so forth. I also lean to the Under, thanks to the Thunder's mild fatigue.

Clippers/Wizards - This line is OFF. Sometimes I regret being on eastern time, since I often miss the last game of the night, but this is a rare spot where I won't care. That being said, there may end up being some value in this one. The Clippers, aside from getting pummeled last night by the Spurs, have actually been playing a bit better. Getting Eric Gordon healthy has been step one to moving back into relevance, but they still can't beat the better teams in the NBA. I seem to have this team completely mis-pegged most nights, but I really feel like they're starting to show the consistency necessary to be a decent betting value. Just looking at the Clippers current homestand, they beat the Grizzlies, got blown out by the Rockets, beat the Pacers, and got clubbed by the Magic and Spurs. By that logic, this is a winnable game for the Clips, and the fact that the starters didn't have to finish last night's game might be a blessing in disguise. The Clippers also head out on the road after this one, so they'll likely be extra-motivated to get a win before disappearing. The Wizards have lost 4 straight, but they've kept all 4 close, which is really the one aspect of this game that gives me pause. They've lost by 2, 4, 2, and 1 point in those 4 games, so it's really about failing to close games. Still, this is a tough spot for Washington, coming off a narrow defeat to the Pacers, and now starting a long road trip on the west coast. Let's see where this line opens and play it from there; I would expect to see the Clippers as 3-5 point favorites with a total just under 200.

Fantasy Advice

Jarrett Jack - If indeed Jose Calderon is out for a few weeks, Jack becomes a monster play, since that Raptors team plays no defense. He had 17, 8 and 8 yesterday, and I would grab him before your west coast buddies wake up...literally, before their alarms go off.

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