Wednesday, December 09, 2009

TNT Week Seven: Home Sweet Home

I made it.

I know you were all concerned, anxiously wringing your hands, wondering if your old buddy Dan would make it safely back from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, and for what it's worth, Mother Nature made it interesting, but not really unsafe. Winds were gusting up to 60mph, from what I read, and from the way I was clenching the steering wheel for a few minutes every hour, I would guess that the wind was indeed blowing "pretty damn hard."

It was an outstanding couple of days immersed in the Baseball world, and you can bet I'll be headed to next year's meetings in Orlando. How about some of those trades, so far?

I also want to point out that the Houston Rockets came through with a straight up win over the Cavs, and my Shane Battier ATS theory gets a shot in the arm. The Rockets are cover machines when Shane can guard the opposing team's best player. The Cavs, Lakers, Thunder all come to mind, and I think (you can look it up and correct me if I'm mis-remembering) the Rockets are a perfect 5-0 ATS against those three teams with superstar SF/SG-size players.

Sports Wagering

Pistons/Nuggets - This line is OFF, as those darn Pistons just refuse to get healthy. They did pick up a nice road win last night in Philadelphia against the floundering Sixers. The confidence factor is nice, but the tired legs against the Nuggets can truly be a death nil. Both of these teams have been playing solid ball ATS, and if you neglect the Nuggets most recent loss in Charlotte, land of the poisoned visiting team drinking fountains (that's just my theory), Denver and Detroit are a combined 7-0-1 against the spread. I think we'll see Denver with a fairly sizable favorite line in this one, especially with the bounceback theory in effect, and with Detroit on the second half of a back-to-back. When I look at a game like this one, I look for a way to try to back the home dog, but it isn't all that easy to find. The Pistons remain wildly undermanned, and the small nuggets of information I'm finding that would tell me to back the Pistons include the Nuggets doing a very poor job of rebounding the ball on their current road trip, and the propensity of teams to mail in the last game of a road trip, especially coming off a loss, as Denver might begin to look ahead to hosting the Suns on Friday. The third, and really, final note on why I might convince myself to take the Pistons is that I think Detroit serves the same water as Charlotte, where visiting teams seem to just stink it up at the Palace, and without Kenyon Martin, the Nuggets are a much less feisty team, and I think they lose a bit of their edge on the road. We can't make any plays until the lines com out, but I'd expect to see Denver favored by 6-8 with a total in the mid-190's.

Wizards/Celtics - Wizards getting 7.5 with a total of 193. Well, what can you say? The Celtics are the second-hottest team in the NBA behind the Lakers, and what's more, they've done most of their ATS damage on the road. On the Celtics recent 4-game road trip through Miami, Charlotte, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, we saw them as 4-point favorites 3 times and 1-point dogs once, and they won and covered all four. Then, right on schedule, Boston came home, beat the Bucks, and failed to cover. The only value anyone can get with Boston is when they play on the road, and here we are, staring down the barrel of Boston's largest road spread since mid-November. Last year, these teams played three times, and Boston won and covered all three. The Wizards, meanwhile, have gone 4-3 in their last 7 straight up, and just 2-5 ATS in those same seven contests. It's strange to think the Wizards might have been overvalued, but such was the case. After failing to cover in 3 straight, though, Washington would seem to be the value play. This is one of those spots, though, where value might be the key. Boston is the team dominating on the road, so the concept of value goes out the window if your high-value team is just going to get rolled. Still, much like with the Denver-Detroit game, I'm going to be looking for a reason to play the home dog. The better play in this one might be on the total. I'm not sure I can see the Wizards scoring enough to push this one Over, and I lean just slightly to the Under. Very tough game to make a final call on, though. Let's watch the line.

Jazz/Magic - Orlando is laying 2.5 on the road with a total of 203. This is a very, very tough spot for Utah. After finishing up in LA extremely late, they fly home, get in at some point in the middle of the night, then have to get themselves all gussied up for a home date with one of the top three road teams in the NBA. This will round out the ALL-HOME-DOG Thursday card, something of an anomaly, considering the quality of this particular home team. The Jazz are tough as nails in their building, but I'm just not sure you can rely on anyone flying into an altitude, coming from the West coast, then getting forced to deal with the rebounding prowess of Dwight Howard, et al. Remember, Salt Lake City is 4,200 feet above sea level. It's not quite a mile, but the air is a tad thinner, so the Jazz might be hard-pressed to put together 2 quality halves. Still, in this game we have our trademark battle of marquee-ness, with Orlando being the team the public is going to throttle, so giving the public this short favorite spread feels like a trap. Let's take a look at the Magic and see if we can't figure out why. Obvious reason number one -- the Magic play TOMORROW in Phoenix. You just know Stan Van Gundy is going to want to start preparing for a game he may very well be coaching in front of his analyst brother on ESPN. This game has a makings of an Orlando letdown. Second reason to look at the Jazz is simply that Utah has been playing spectacular basketball. True, Orlando has won 6 in a row and 9 of 10, but Utah has won 8 of 10, so there's certainly no shortage of hotness in this one. In terms of the total, I think the Jazz dictate the tempo, so I'd lean Over for that reason, but I also feel Orlando doesn't completely show up, so I'd lean Under due to that. No real early lean on the total, unfortunately.

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