Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Blog of 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

New Jersey Nets @ Chicago Bulls (-10) with a total of 185;
New Jersey has been getting creamed the last week or so, and I see no strong reason to believe that changes on New Year's Eve. Chicago is in the middle of a homestand, so they'll get to spend time with family over the next few days, while Jersey is bouncing between home and road, and trying to locate that defensive identity that actually kept them in games earlier this year. Believe it or not, 10 really isn't a ton of points, considering the competition. Of course, just when everything looks like it's pointed in one direction, the NBA has a habit of slapping you with a weird result. No sense overcomplicating things - lean to CHICAGO and I think the total is SPOT ON.

Washington Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (-6) with a total of 195;
Ah, the home-and-home. We were correct in our leans on the first one, and I have no issue claiming that we'll likely be correct with our leans on this one, as well. The Wizards beat up on a suddenly struggling Pacers team that just hasn't looked right on offense. Washington continues to be a sneaky home play, but also continues to get worked on the road, and I fail to see how this one turns out any differently. The Pacers are going to want some measure of revenge from losing to Washington in the Capital, and Washington's defense does give up some points on the road. The return of John Wall is going to make Washington a more formidable team both at home and on the road, but Indiana's recent slump has given us a low line, and on the back end of a home-and-home, I can't pass it up. Lean to PACERS and the OVER.

Golden State Warriors @ Charlotte Bobcats (-2) with a total of 207;
This game should actually be a fun one, with Charlotte trying to push the tempo, and Golden State sort of a veteran team, at least when it comes to understanding the run-n-gun style of offense. Charlotte is going to continue to be a bit sloppy while they make the transition to pushing the ball, and I wonder if this isn't a game where an opponent can actually take advantage of that. The Warriors are pretty bad on the road, but they're definitely improving by the day (thanks largely to health), and they are a team that can turn mistakes into points. Not only that, Golden State is comfortable playing a streetball game. I believe this line is fairly low for a reason, and I lean to the WARRIORS, and just slightly to the UNDER.

New Orleans Hornets @ Boston Celtics with a total of N/A;
Kevin Garnett's leg is hurting, and that's a huge blow to the Celtics, though they've dealt with injury issues before. The real key, to me, is that New Orleans has not been able to score, at all, on the road. The Hornets have had a couple home games where they almost looked like they knew what they were doing, but road games have been downright ugly, and maybe this will sound weird, but I think that Garnett's loss might actually give us a little value with Boston. The line is undoubtedly going to be lower, but if Rondo is getting back into the mix, and Big Baby can still step in and play some decent PF, Boston loses its defensive voice, but not its defensive identity or offensive ability. A healthy Garnett is wildly important in big games, but in a regular season home game against a team that can't put the ball in the hoop, the line drop might be the bigger factor. Lean to BOSTON and waiting on the total, but it might sneak OVER, just because I expect a hideously low number.

Toronto Raptors @ Houston Rockets (-8.5) with a total of 212;
This may come as a bit of a shock, but Toronto has actually been holding up pretty well, offensively. The problem has been defense and turnovers. They can shoot, but they can't stop anyone, so any mistakes are magnified, and every game ends up just being an effort to trade buckets. I don't see this one being any different. Houston has been ramping up their offense despite the season-ending injury to Yao (again), and with Aaron Brooks getting healthy, and his minutes increasing, that just gives the Rockets one more potent weapon to defend. So, while Toronto beat Dallas a couple nights back, that was an awful situational spot for the Mavericks. This game, on the other hand, is a worse spot for Toronto, finishing up a Southern road trip on New Year's Eve. I'm not at all concerned about Houston winning, but covering 8.5 isn't easy, especially when you're a team that only plays defense about 1/3 of the time. Still, Toronto's win in Dallas was a fluke, I believe, so a small, square lean to the ROCKETS and the OVER.

Atlanta Hawks @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-5) with a total of 196;
The Thunder are all over the map! This team has been trading off wins and losses since December 17th, a span of 7 games. This game, on that trend, has them marked for a loss. Of course, when I look at the numbers, I can't help but think that perhaps that trend will come to an end tonight. The Thunder are coming off a complete performance against the lowly Nets, and while the Hawks have quietly won 4 of 5 games, the bulk of their heavy lifting has been done at home. And aside from a road win over the Jennings-less Bucks (who are experiencing some severe offensive issues), Atlanta is just 1-6 in their other 7 road games in the month of December. I know what you're thinking - surely, it must have been a tough schedule. And some of the games were darn tough, but losses at Detroit and at New Jersey should have been preventable. I still don't trust the Hawks on the road, and the Thunder should be able to take care of business against a slightly better team - Lean to OKLAHOMA and the OVER.

Detroit Pistons @ Phoenix Suns with a total of N/A;
Looking at the last 5 games for each team, this one SHOULD be one of the easiest games on the card to handicap, but I'll admit, I'm struggling to come to terms with a few things. First, Detroit has covered 5 in a row - simple, right? They moved Rip Hamilton to the bench, Ben Gordon into the starting five, and T-Mac is getting more minutes, and suddenly, the Pistons are a reasonably successful offensive unit. That should continue, right? Hopefully. On the other side, the Suns are slowly trying to acclimate to the new players, and in the meantime, the team is getting outrebounded and outworked, and the offense has stagnated more than it should. Vince Carter getting out there and playing on his banged up legs should help in the short term, since it gives Phoenix another proven scorer, but the Pistons can really shoot, and I find it hard to believe that Phoenix can really "pull away" from any competition while they're adjusting to new players. Lean to the PISTONS and the OVER.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Los Angeles Lakers with a total of N/A;
The lack of Andre Iguodala would be a monster blow to Philly in this game. His absence didn't hurt them much against the zero-defense Suns, but against a big, strong team like LA, the Sixers desperately need their defensive leader to try to slow down Kobe, even a little. The Lakers finally broke out of their 3-game skid with an easy win over the Hornets the last time out, and now return home to try to "get fat" against about 2 weeks of mediocre competition. The Sixers are in game 7 of an 8-game road trip, so you have to think they're starting to fatigue just a hair. This game, though, is so high profile that I wouldn't be surprised to see Philadelphia show up. They have revenge on the brain after LA beat them soundly on the East coast, and they know that the Lakers had been scuffling a bit before that game with the Hornets. Combine all that with the aforementioned injury news, and you've got quite a few angles to consider, almost too many. I do think the Lakers win, so it'd be tough for me to back Philly, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this one stay closer than people think. Microscopic lean to PHILADELPHIA (and I mean TINY!), and the OVER.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bowls and NBA Make Dan a Happy Boy

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic (-7.5) with a total of 210.5;
No rest for the weary - the Knicks come off a tough game with the Heat and have to tackle the other Florida club, and one that is absolutely crushing with its new crop of players. Orlando has won, and covered, 4 straight games, and the new guys appear to be settling in nicely, especially on offense. We know New York stays mostly competitive with just about every opponent, so covering more than 7-8 is very tough against the Knicks without top level pick-and-roll defense. Having Dwight Howard inside is a huge help, but Miami, the team New York just faced, might be the best pick and roll defensive team in the League, and I'm inclined to think the Knicks have a little more success on the offensive end in this one than they did on Tuesday. I know Orlando is the red hot club, and I know Handicapping 101 says to just back a hot team, but in this one, I'm inclined to think it ends up as a relatively close game, with New York starting to get some mojo back. Lean to the KNICKS and the OVER.

San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks with a total of N/A;
The health of a few Dallas players is going to weigh heavily on this game, as both Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler are banged up, but both are day-to-day. Thus, we just might not know a whole heck of a lot about this game until close to tip. Obviously, early news would be great, but I don't expect it. What I do expect, though, is that San Antonio is going to bring it from start to finish. The Spurs have lost just 4 games all season long, and one of those four came against these Mavs, at home. So, the Spurs are on home revenge, and I don't see them having any issue trying to beat Dallas "when they're down," if in fact the stars don't play. The Spurs are rolling, they play great team defense, and I think this game is going to be decided late. Given San Antonio was a 4-point home favorite in the last meeting, I believe Dallas will be a short home favorite in this one (injuries pending), and if we can get 3 points with the road team, I'll say right now that I'll probably bet the SPURS, and I lean UNDER.

Utah Jazz @ Portland Trailblazers with a total of N/A;
Certainly, Utah's results with the Clippers will play a small role in how we break this one down, but the stronger angle is the recent history revenge. Utah beat Portland here a month back, and Portland got revenge with a win in Utah just a few short days ago. But Utah was in a terrible spot, not having played at home in ages, and was clearly sluggish from the Christmas Holiday, and Portland was able to take advantage of that with a pretty ugly game. Now, Utah is rested and back in the flow of the season, Portland is coming home off a tough 3-game road trip through altitude, and remains a team that has all kinds of trouble scoring reliably. I'm rather curious where oddsmakers bring this line out, though, as Utah was a 7.5-point home favorite, so this one should be pretty close to a Pick, barring a monster adjustment for a reason I haven't yet noted. Revenge is big, as is shaking off the rust, and Utah has taken care of both. The last game featured a very low final score, but it was also about as ugly as a game can get. Lean to the JAZZ and the OVER, though we'll see about where that total opens.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Close Ones Count

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards (Pk) with a total of 194;
Washington remains one of the sneakiest home plays in the League, and I'm fairly convinced that most people haven't caught on. With that in mind, and with Indiana playing the second half of a back-to-back that began yesterday with a home revenge game against the Celtics, my initial reaction is to look at the Wizards. However, this is the front end of a home-and-home between these two teams, and they'll face off again in Indiana on Friday. Historically, we've had our best success watching the first piece of these types of scheduling spots, and then reacting, since you can generally get a good idea of the mental state of each time, but given Washington's comfort level at home, and Indiana's recent offensive struggles, I'd lean to WASHINGTON to win this home half, and the total to squeak OVER.

Golden State Warriors @ Atlanta Hawks with a total of N/A;
I'm actually starting to like the Warriors again. As David Lee's health improves, this team gets a ton better, and they've rattled off two solid home wins in a row in the last few days. The road hasn't been kind to Golden State, but again, if they're getting easier looks, and Lee is the guy in those spots, this is a team that can score big numbers in any venue. The obvious concern is whether they can stop anyone, and most likely, they won't. Golden State plays some pretty mediocre defense on the season, and the inability to score as reliably away from home has absolutely killed them. The Hawks are bigger and stronger, and should be one of the teams that poses a problem for Golden State. I'm curious to see this line, though, since the Warriors lost most of their following due to an awful November, and Atlanta has been playing well at home. Slight pre-line lean to ATLANTA (barring a wild line), and the UNDER.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Charlotte Bobcats with a total of N/A;
The Bobcats, round two, under Paul Silas. Round one was a marginal success, as they did win the game, but it was one of the sloppiest performances of the season (for a winning team, at least). Turnovers were plentiful, just as we predicted they would be, under a completely new offensive scheme, and running to try to get some easy buckets. Charlotte and Detroit put up 205 points, going way over the opening total, so we'll probably see oddsmakers make some adjustments on this one. Let's wait and see where the total opens up, but one thing we know for sure is that Cleveland is going to try to run some relatively quick offensive sets, as well. Can Cleveland actually make their open looks? Based on the last few weeks, not likely. The problem, though, is that not only is Cleveland getting some monster spreads, but they're also on a back-to-back off yesterday's game with the Magic. This is going to be a big spread to cover for a team trying out some new stuff. Small lean to the CAVS and the OVER.

Boston Celtics (-6.5) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 189;
Every time I see a line like this one, I always start with the home team and see if anything can talk me out of it. Detroit has actually been playing decent ball, believe it or not. They're not winning a ton, but they're covering, having gone 4-0 ATS in their last 4 contests, including near misses against the Bulls and Bobcats. Now, they host the Celtics for the 2nd time this year after getting blasted in the first meeting. Boston was a 6-point favorite in that game, but this time, Boston is playing a back-to-back, so the 6.5 is actually a pretty high number, all things considered, especially with the Pistons actually covering some spreads. The results of Boston's game in Indiana might impact my thoughts later on in the process, but against all my better judgment, I lean DETROIT and the UNDER.

New Jersey Nets @ Oklahoma City Thunder with a total of N/A;
The Thunder are all over the damn place. If you were around for yesterday's (Tuesday) blog, you may have caught a quick exchange in the comments between our buddy denmarkok, and he probably summed it up best in saying the Thunder are going through some growing pains. They still don't quite know how to conduct themselves in the regular season with a target on their back, and getting opponents' A games. As a result, it seems like we're seeing a week of strong play, followed by a game or two where the team seems to be taking a deep breath. The Thunder had a nice win on Christmas Day, then came back and lost to the best road team in the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks. Now, in what's sure to be a lopsided spread, we'll see if they can get it back together to grab a "W" in a game they should win. This one is a coin-flip to me, flat out. NO LEAN on the side, tiny lean to the OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers (-1.5) @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of 191;
Let's start with the Hornets, since, to me, they're the easy team to call in this game. New Orleans has been playing much better at home than on the road this month, so that's what we're going to keep in mind when backing them. That is, we'll consider backing them at home, and doubtful we'll do so when they're on the road. The issue continues to be offense. New Orleans just can't make buckets on the road, and even if you can play defense, if you can't score, you're the New Jersey Nets, I guess. The Lakers are the question mark. They will be coming off a big game with the Spurs, so the results of that one will certainly play a role in how we approach this game. I will say, right off the bat, I don't think a letdown is a possibility. If the Lakers play a close game with the Spurs, I think we'll see another close one, here. If either team gets blown out in Lakers-Spurs, I might expect similar from this game. WAIT AND SEE on the side, and slight lean to the UNDER.

Denver Nuggets @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of N/A;
Don't look now, but Minnesota has come out of the Christmas break gangbusters! They won on the road, against the lowly Cavs, then came home and stomped the Hornets. This will undoubtedly be the toughest game of the last 3, but Minnesota had only 14 turnovers against New Orleans, only 13 against the Cavs, and when they take care of the ball and actually get shots on the offensive end (and give Kevin Love a chance to grab an offensive board, if need be), Minnesota can be pretty tough on offense. They still play some downright miserable defense, but this is, believe it or not, a very winnable game for them. The Nuggets haven't been very good on the road at any point this season. Minnesota completely dominated Denver on the glass when these teams met at the Pepsi Center, and Denver seems to be losing focus on a daily basis. Lean to MINNESOTA and the UNDER.

Miami Heat (-4) @ Houston Rockets with a total of 199;
This line seems awfully low, doesn't it? Call me square on this game, but unless Miami expends every ounce of energy in the tank in their game with the Knicks last night (to be determined), I actually think that the public might sneak away with one. Why, you ask? Well, as tough as Houston's schedule was at the beginning of the year, it has been almost as easy the last 2-3 weeks. Houston has played 1 game with a team with a winning record since the 4th of December, a game they lost to the Thunder. Yes, Houston is playing a bit better, especially on offense, but they're actually a hair overrated right now, considering the best team they've played on their current 5-game win streak is Memphis, a club that cannot beat Houston no matter how well they're playing. Sorry Houston, I'll trust you when you beat a few teams over 500 -- lean to MIAMI and the UNDER.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Phoenix Suns with a total of N/A;
Philly is dealing with some bodies getting banged up, the most important of which remains Andre Iguodala. This team is really just not the same without him, and maybe his work on Paul Pierce in the two games with Boston is the best indicator of how important he can be. Iguodala might be the most underrated ON-BALL defender in the NBA. He's long, quick, and powerful, and can generally shut down most opposing small forwards. Phoenix doesn't do a ton of 1-on-1 work, so I'm not sure that his loss will hurt Philadelphia's defense quite as much, unless they were considering putting him on Steve Nash, and we may never know. Philly is also smack in the middle of a ridiculously long road trip, so it's tough to know how the guys respond to the serious travel fatigue spot. Can Phoenix get the new players acclimated? That's the other huge note. My expectation is a relatively short line (4-5 points?), and in that case, small lean to PHOENIX and the UNDER.

Memphis Grizzlies (-4) @ Sacramento Kings with a total of 195;
I won't back the Kings. There are plenty of games involving Sacramento where I would avoid the game entirely if, say the opposition is in a particularly bad situational spot, but I will not back Sacramento until they show some sort of sign of waking up. The Kings actually pushed on the closing line of their last game, though they lost against the opening number, and the Kings are now 5-23 SU on the season, and a truly miserable 7-20 ATS. That's tough to do, to be so awful that even wildly inflated lines can't get you an ATS win. The Grizzlies are playing tremendous team defense lately, they've looked solid since the All Star Break (aside from too many turnovers), and they're not really in any kind of bad spot. I hate to simplify the game this much, but the fade train is in effect - lean to MEMPHIS and the UNDER.

Utah Jazz (-2) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 196;
Wow, maybe I should take back what I said a couple days ago about the Clippers not getting any respect. The Jazz only laying 2 on the road with neither team playing in a schedule spot. That's really something, especially when you consider that the Clips were 6 point home underdogs to Utah about 45 days ago. The Clippers appear to have climbed a solid 4 points in the power rankings, and I'm not sure I disagree. They shoot a high percentage from the field thanks largely to Blake Griffin, they are a very strong rebounding team, and the slow improvement of Baron Davis's attitude has given LA a floor-leader that can get the ball to Griffin and Gordon in good spots. Utah has a little revenge spot with Portland coming up tomorrow, and to be honest, I'd like to get more points if I'm backing the Clips, but the strength of this opening number tells me all I need to know. Lean to the BLAKE-SHOW and the OVER.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Memphis Playing Defense

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Boston Celtics (-4.5) @ Indiana Pacers with a total of 190;
I actually happen to think this line is pretty accurate. Indiana has been very inconsistent, and played pretty poorly coming out of the Christmas holiday break, shooting just 35% in getting blasted at home by the Memphis Grizzlies. The Celtics lost on Christmas Day at the hands of the Magic to snap their own rather substantial winning streak. As most know, I generally like to fade a team coming off a long win streak, though that applies more to teams that aren't accustomed to winning, like the Knicks earlier this year. A veteran team like Boston could very well bounce right back, though the lack of Rajon Rondo certainly slows then down on offense, considerably. Indiana might come to play, and Boston's ended win streak is the only true angle at play, so with that in mind, tiny lean to PACERS, but very small chance it becomes anything more, and a lean to the OVER.

Orlando Magic (-7.5) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 191;
I really have wanted to find a way to fade the Magic over the last 2 days, and maybe I'll regret laying off, but with the new players back, this team could either suffer a letdown off the big pair of wins (over the Spurs and Celtics), or could find themselves in the middle of a positive surge. The Cavs look like the worst team in the East lately, so they're an awfully tough club to back without a really strong angle, and I'm not too sure that such a strong angle actually exists in this one. Cleveland lost to the lowly Timberwolves coming out of the Christmas Break, and Orlando is taking on Jersey as I type this, but I'm not too concerned about a fatigue spot for the Magic. This line might be inflated a hair, but that might not be enough for my liking. Gun-to-head lean to CAVALIERS, and slight lean to the UNDER.

New York Knicks @ Miami Heat (-10.5) with a total of 204.5;
The Knicks actually played some defense in their Christmas morning tilt with the Bulls, and combined with raining in threes, that was more than enough to get the job done in a big win. The Heat, not to be outdone, came out about 3 hours later and just blasted the Lakers in a game that the Heat downplayed, but you know darn well they wanted that game, and wanted to show the champs what they were made of. Well, they did. And now, back home, finally getting a late chance to do a little of the Christmas stuff with family, the Heat have to try to refocus on the Knicks, a team they beat handily a couple weeks back, in New York. Well, we all know how LeBron likes playing at Madison Square Garden, and we also know that the Knicks can score a heck of a lot better than they showed in that first game with Miami. I expect a better effort from the Knicks, which means two things. Small lean to NEW YORK, and maybe even more of a lean to the OVER.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago Bulls (-7.5) with a total of 178.5;
The back-to-back champs from yesteryear, the Bucks, take on a Bulls team that was rolling along, then went to sleep offensively on Christmas morning against the Knicks. It was a strange 4th quarter, to say the least. Milwaukee is slated to take on the Hawks before this one, so the results of that game might make an impact on how we handicap, if they're especially extreme in one direction or another. My take on Milwaukee for this game is roughly the same as for yesterday's -- this is a team that's playing well even without Brandon Jennings, but something tells me his loss catches up with the team at some point. It's the "extended" injured star theory, and we might be at the tail end of the "good ATS" part. With that in mind, the Bucks are a team that I'd handle with care. Plus, Chicago is damn tough at home. Very small lean to CHICAGO and the OVER.

Toronto Raptors @ Dallas Mavericks (-12.5) with a total of 208;
This is a pretty darn high total for a Mavs game, and I can't help but wonder if oddsmakers are using Dallas's high profile to bump up the line a hair. Both teams are going to be playing the second half of a back-to-back, with Toronto coming to town from Memphis, and Dallas returning from Oklahoma City. The Mavs have gotten caught up in a few higher scoring games lately, but at the same time, they play strong defense, and they know that their best chance to beat the Raptors is to lock down on the defensive end, and turn missed shots into easier opportunities. Can both teams focus on defense when a little fatigued? When push comes to shove, Dallas comes home off 3 terribly tough road games, and this one has all the scents of a spot where the Mavs squeak by -- they played Miami and Orlando before Christmas, and open the post-Holiday slate with the Thunder, Raptors, and Spurs. Which game looks like the easy one? Lean to TORONTO and the OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs (-3) with a total of 199;
The Lakers looked mad at the end of that Miami game, and I know that we've been playing them to be extremely streaky this year, but I'm not sure I want to step in front of that madness. When Kobe gets embarrassed like he and his mates did on Christmas, there is hell to pay in the locker room. This game feels like that spot where the Lakers come out with the most energy they've shown in any game all season, and against a team they can beat when they play well. The Spurs have been able to ramp up their offense this year, and I think have caught some teams by surprise, but the Lakers have the right blend of guys to slow down San Antonio, and the neutral court equals this line has illustrated makes me think that the Christmas game took a toll on the Lakers betting faithful. I'm shirking the "Faceless_Sink" System v1.0, and leaning LAKESHOW and UNDER.

Portland Trailblazers @ Denver Nuggets with a total of N/A;
I can't believe I'm saying this, but despite all signs pointing to the Blazers getting blasted, I think they pose a nice shot to win this game straight up. It's a back-to-back in altitude, the worst spot imaginable (aside from losing a time zone), the Nuggets are coming off getting upset at home, the Nugs are generally a strong home team, Portland is playing terribly on the road, and the Nuggets are on revenge, and yet for some reason, I still want to back Portland. I suppose we should wait and see what the line is, and because all the angles point to Denver, and I still don't want to back them, this might end up being a prime example of a game to pass, but that's where I sit right now, pre-line. NO LEAN YET on the side, could go either way depending on line, movement, and other news, and PASS on the total.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

An NBA Week Begins, Pt 10

Weekend Recap:

'Twas a Merry Christmas weekend, indeed! And really, it has been a stellar Christmas week!

Starting on the 18th, we've put together a run of 8 days out of 9, including an 8-1 NBA run since last Monday, two straight winning NFL weekends for close to 5 units, and a perfect 2-0 in CFB Bowl selections using our extremely low-volume approach.

But, that's still just the short term, so we have a ton of work to do the rest of the way. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and everyone is gearing up for some awesome bowl games in the next week!

Pro(mo) Section:

We took a week off from promos, and the gambling gods smiled upon our act of humble mercy with a monster week...err, and hard work probably helped, too!

So, this week, back to some mild promo action (just grin and bear it, though I know you guys just gloss over this part).

First, the longer term stuff - the last few months have really illustrated the need to follow a capper for more than 4-5 days. We rocked from August through November, had a 3-week stretch of mostly mediocre results, and now are bouncing back. With that in mind, why not check out the DAN BEBE MONTHLY FLEX PACKAGE - a tremendous deal that gets an entire month for the price of, roughly, 8 days of plays. Think about it, won't you?

And, second, the daily package - I strongly considered a play on MNF, but decided if I do, it'll be FREE! The daily package is a standard NBA 2* selection to keep the 8-1 run going!

Now, read the darn blog!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Orlando Magic (-6.5) @ New Jersey Nets with a total of 189;
Christmas Day hangover means slightly shorter writeups on most games, but we'll stay organized, and many of you might actually prefer these less flowery paragraphs. The small knock on Jersey is that they can't score, and they haven't played in 5 days, so there may be some rust. Orlando played on Christmas Day, so they're likely settled into a slightly better rhythm, but at the same time, they're coming off a huge playoff revenge win over Boston, and this is prime letdown spot. This spread is relatively low, considering neither team is on a back-to-back spot, but I think the NETS keep it just within the number, and it stays UNDER.

Detroit Pistons @ Charlotte Bobcats (-4.5) with a total of 184.5;
The single biggest news to come out of the last week of NBA is that new head coach Paul Silas plans on implementing an up-tempo offense. Let that sink in. A team that had been a slow, plodding club under Larry Brown is going to try to run, and that total of 184.5 does not reflect those changes. My main concern, though, is how awful Detroit has looked in back-to-back games this year. The Pistons have been playing better since shaking up the starting lineup, but the scoring on back-to-backs has been almost as bad as the defense. I'm interested in seeing how well Charlotte runs with just a few days of practice. It seems like turnovers may be plentiful, but at the same time, if they're really pushing the ball, they should be a lot better. Leans to CHARLOTTE and the OVER.

Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder (Pk) with a total of 204.5;
I have no idea how to avoid backing the Mavs on the road, though certainly the angles in this one make it closer to a pass than a play. For one, the Thunder played on Christmas, so they're less rusty, and the Mavs have been off for most of the week. In addition, the Mavs already beat the Thunder in Oklahoma once this season, so there may be a little extra motivation for the Thunder to play Dallas tough, knowing better what type of effort to expect from the best road team in the NBA. My concerns about backing Dallas are only a tiny bit greater than my concerns about the Thunder, a team that seems to lack defensive intensity at times. This line of a pick is probably pretty close to accurate. Perhaps a tiny lean to the THUNDER, but I'd advise a PASS on the side, and consider the UNDER due to rust.

Atlanta Hawks @ Milwaukee Bucks (-1.5) with a total of 179;
I'm having all kinds of trouble backing Atlanta on the road, and they helped us cash a ticket on the Hornets yesterday. This one is a little more troubling, since Atlanta, while a little fatigued, got back into a rhythm by playing yesterday, while the Bucks had to fly cross-country after a west coast 3-game roadie, enjoy Christmas, and now play their first game since. They might be rusty, and the injury to Brandon Jennings is going to catch up with them, eventually. I think Atlanta's road issues are the biggest factor in this game, so I still lean MILWAUKEE, but very, very weakly, and this total is so low, I think any value on an under is gone, so tiny lean to OVER.

Toronto Raptors @ Memphis Grizzlies (-5) with a total of 208.5;
The fatigue angle points to Toronto, but the Raptors' recent play most certainly does not. Toronto lost its last 2 games going into the Christmas break, and lost 8 of 10, as well. Memphis actually lost 3 straight heading into the time off, but came out of the break with a flurry, taking down the up-and-coming Pacers, on the road, where Memphis had struggled a bit. The Grizzlies have been pretty serviceable at home, at 8-6 SU, and better lately than early in the year. Toronto needs to get healthy in a bad way, consistently having rebounding issues without Reggie Evans. They might shoot 60% and win on any given night, since they're largely a jump-shooting team, but on the road with the Christmas rust, I lean to MEMPHIS to cover a short number, and the UNDER, barely.

New Orleans Hornets (-3.5) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of 200;
This high total makes me think that New Orleans is going to get caught up in a Wolves style of game. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to miss the cover, though. Again, the fatigue factor might slow the Hornets a bit, but I must say, I watched last night's game with Atlanta, and the Hornets are really into these games. The home crowd helps, but this team strikes me as fairly focused, and that leaves me with the thought that this one is a bit of a toss-up. We all remember how the Hornets played coming out of the gate, and if that's how they look when rested, almost anything can happen. Tiny lean to the HORNETS, and I mean super-small, and the OVER.

Washington Wizards @ Houston Rockets (-9.5) with a total of 204;
Washington continues to stink on the road, getting beat up pretty good by the Spurs last night. But now, as discussed above, the fact that they've played almost helps them, despite the potential fatigue. Houston is a team that's getting healthier with time, and the increasing minutes of Aaron Brooks is going to make them a better club. This line looks huge because of the back-to-back, so let's not react too crazily to it. I know I'm jumping about a little, so I'll condense my thoughts. Houston was playing extremely well going into the Christmas layoff, so you have to think they didn't really want the time off. Do they come out with the same vigor, or will it take a game or two to get back into the groove? Tiny lean to WASHINGTON and the UNDER.

Portland Trailblazers @ Utah Jazz (-8.5) with a total of 193;
Yikes, who would've thought that the Blazers would be this large of an underdog to any teams not named Lakers, Celtics or Heat? But they have really fallen hard, combining injuries with sluggish play, and now it sounds like parts of Portland's roster are on the trade block as the team tries to get younger while they can get something back for the old goats. This is a bad spot for Utah, though. Utah played a 4-game road trip before the Christmas break, barely beating Minnesota in their final game (failing to cover), and then getting 4 days off before this one. Portland played on Christmas, so they're still in a rhythm, and they have a revenge angle to consider, with Utah beating them at the Rose Garden a month back. Lean to the BLAZERS (shudders) and the UNDER.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Sacramento Kings (-1) with a total of 194;
I'm not changing my writeup on any game involving Sacramento until they show me they can play a second half of a game and not melt down. Here's my question to the readers (and a test to see if anyone's actually looking at the content and not just the leans) -- do we think the public is catching on that the Clippers are actually playing good basketball the last 2 weeks (and this line would then be a little fishy), or do we think that Sacramento is a favorite just because LA played yesterday in the afternoon, and they're the Clippers, so no one is going to bet them regardless of how they're playing in the short term? What do you guys think? I'm inclined to think the Clippers are like the Lions in NFL - they'll cover all year, and no one will give a crap. Sactown is on revenge, but that hasn't stopped them from losing to other teams. Lean to the CLIPS and the OVER.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Golden State Warriors (-3) with a total of 204;
A week ago, I'd be all over the Sixers, but I have to admit - in watching the Warriors Christmas night game, David Lee looked as healthy as he has at any point since Wilson Chandler went Nosferatu on his elbow. If David Lee gets healthy, and can go back to shooting 50-52%, knocking down those 15-footers and actually converting the layups, and if Stephen Curry can get that ankle rounded back into shape, these Warriors can really score. Andris Biedrins would be a nice piece to get back at some point for added rebounding, but the offensive side is going to be just fine as soon as Lee is truly healthy. I'm hesitant to bet this game until I get another look at Lee, but with Philly flying west from a win in Denver, and both teams in a rhythm, I guess small lean to the WARRIORS and the OVER.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Detroit Wins Two

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

San Antonio Spurs @ Orlando Magic (-2.5) with a total of 199.5;
This line is intriguing to me, given what we know about back-to-back spots. Orlando last played against Dallas 2 days back, another team that was facing a back-to-back, and Orlando was a 4-point favorite over the Mavericks in that contest, indicating to me that the Mavs were considered a 1-point neutral court fave. This line, at 1.5-points less, tell us the Spurs are ranked as 1.5-points better than the Mavs, and a full 2.5-points better than the Magic. Is this accurate? Maybe, maybe not. In any event, the Mavs continued to roll on the road, so one might argue that, at least right now, most lines with the Magic are going to be off by a hair. The Mavs tried the odd strategy of playing a match-up zone defense, and that didn't really work. Dallas had to outscore Orlando to win. I don't imagine the Spurs will go that same route. No one can truly stop Dwight Howard, but the Spurs are crafty, and I'd be surprised if they let guys like J.J. Redick get wide open looks like Dallas did. Will fatigue be an issue, is the next question. Every time I thought the Spurs would slow, they found a way to play better defense and slow the game down, as well. I'm not concerned about the Spurs' energy. Orlando might have a tiny look-ahead to Boston, but you have to think they're more focused on winning the game at hand. They need Jason Richardson to warm up, or they'll get beat again. Small lean to SAN ANTONIO and the UNDER.

Milwaukee Bucks (-1) @ Sacramento Kings with a total of 185.5;
A trap line? The Bucks, even without Jennings, only laying a single point to the worst team in the NBA sure smells funny, but I just can't back the Kings. Sacramento has zero offensive continuity, and the only reason they were able to take a lead on the Warriors (before blowing it) was because of superior rebounding. Milwaukee is much bigger than Golden State, and though they might be in a letdown spot off the revenge win over the Lakers, they might also be in a confident spot. Sacramento, to me, is a team that is beyond backing. I don't say that often. They find ways to lose, and they find ways to lose big, most times. I'm not going to belabor this point. There is no reason to back the Kings, and even though I'm not saying you should back Milwaukee (since there are ample reasons to pass on this game, altogether), the only logical conclusion is a baby lean to MILWAUKEE and the UNDER.

Miami Heat (-6) @ Phoenix Suns with a total of 209;
How much does revenge matter, here, and how much is Miami just too dominant for the Suns? Here are my 4 angles. First, as noted, is revenge. Miami walloped Phoenix in November down in Florida, though Steve Nash was extremely banged up, and even though he tried to play, he wasn't himself. Not a great barometer, but Phoenix got steamrolled. Second, Miami just lost its first game off a long win streak. I tend to like to fade teams in the letdown off a long streak, so this angle points to Phoenix, too. Third, Phoenix just made a monster trade, sending away Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, and acquiring Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, and Mikael Pietrus. It sounds like Carter is considering arthroscopic surgery on his knee, so his health is an issue, and Pietrus and Gortat don't understand the Phoenix gameplan, yet. The return to health of Robin Lopez is helping Phoenix on the interior, and they've covered 2 in a row with some hot shooting, but unless Phoenix fires over 50% from the field, I have trouble seeing them hang within 8-9 points. What are the odds Phoenix shoots 52%? Those are your odds for Phoenix to hang tough. The fourth and final angle is the look-ahead. Miami plays in LA on Christmas Day, so LeBron and Wade might be gearing up for the Kobe experience. This angle could weigh heavily. Thus, put all those together, and the angles point 3:1 in Phoenix's favor. Lean to the SUNS and the OVER.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Road Perfection, Mavs

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Detroit Pistons @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
The Pistons are damn difficult to figure out, these days. They beat the pants off Atlanta, lose to the Clippers, beat the Hornets, and prior to all that, they had allowed these very Raptors to shoot 63% in a crazy comeback effort. Who are the Pistons? Now, on the road, in a bit of a revenge spot, the Pistons are looking to string together a pair of wins for the first time since early November. And they're looking to do so without Rip Hamilton, who seems to be done with Detroit. He might play, I suppose, but after being benched in favor of Ben Gordon, Rip threw a temper tantrum, sat out a game with an "upset tummy," and now would seem to be chomping at the bit to get traded. I would actually prefer he NOT play, if I'm backing Detroit. He's not playing hard, and Detroit desperately needs all 5 guys on the floor to give a crap if they're going to win. With this game being each team's final contest before the Christmas Break, the letdown factor is a wash. Thus, we're left with momentum and revenge, and I might argue that those both point to the Pistons. Let's wait and see if we can snag a nice number (since Toronto was considered 1 point Detroit's superior a couple weeks back), and then reassess. Early lean to DETROIT and the UNDER, though the line will provide some additional info.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Atlanta Hawks (-11) with a total of 191;
This is a large number for Atlanta to cover, considering how stagnant that offense has looked, lately. I will give credit, though, to Atlanta's defense, which seems to have improved between seasons. Now, if they could get some activity in that offense, they could take another step. As it stands, Atlanta has held more teams under 40% shooting this month (4) than over 50% (3), and that's a nice sign. Cleveland should be no different. The Cavs have only cracked the 43% mark once all December, so we can basically look for them to put up another 40% performance. The question is whether Atlanta can hang 100 points on the board. I'm inclined to think they won't. Atlanta just isn't pushing the tempo at all, and while Cleveland sometimes tries to, they seem to settle back into a half-court set all too often. I happen to think that, given the lack of motivational factors, and with Atlanta trying to get Joe Johnson back in the swing of things, this side is pretty close to accurate. Perhaps a microscopic lean to ATLANTA to cover by about 1.5 points. The total is darn near perfect, too, though I lean just a hair to the UNDER.

Chicago Bulls (-2) @ Washington Wizards with a total of 194;
We'll know a bit more about this game once we see how Chicago handles Philadelphia on Tuesday evening, but my initial feeling is that Chicago isn't the same team without Joakim Noah, and this ultra-short line is doing nothing to sway that sensation. Washington, as we've seen, is sneaky-solid at home, and I'm inclined to think they'll make a game of it with the Bulls. That number 2 is scary, though, since Washington isn't left with much of a window to lose and cover. Washington was a 10.5-point underdog when they played in Chicago earlier this year, but now, without Arenas and without Wall, even the loss of Joakim Noah would have to still leave Chicago as the slight power ranking edge. Plus, the Bulls added Boozer since that time. Nothing about this line adds up, and when that's the case, it's time to open up the Marco D'Angelo book of tricks and "go contrarian" with the ugly choice. Lean to WASHINGTON on the side (Chicago's game with Philly pending), and the OVER.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics (-10) with a total of 191;
Considering the line when Boston visited Philadelphia 2 weeks ago, this -10 is absolutely astounding! Let's knock out the situational stuff quickly, because I want to focus on the line math. Yes, this is a revenge game for Philadelphia. The Sixers dropped a heartbreaker to the Celtics, 102-101, obviously covering that game, but losing a game they felt they could have won. Boston might, though it's not for sure, be looking ahead just a tad to the Christmas Day game with the Orlando Magic. And finally, Philadelphia is on back-to-back from a game in Chicago, the results of which may impact how we approach this one. Now, the line: when Boston traveled to Philadelphia on December 9, it was on the heels of a back-to-back with the Denver Nuggets, in Boston, and the C's were a 5 point road favorite. Some quick arithmetic (venue, b2b adjustment) tells us that oddsmakers had Boston as a 10-point neutral court favorite. Now, 2 weeks later, Philadelphia is on a b2b, Boston is at home, and the line is only at 10. That's a full 5-point power ranking swing, and that's also insane. Believe it or not, this line might actually be a value on Boston. Taking 10 points with the Sixers seems like a gift right now, but digging deep reveals that the line has moved a ton, and the value might not be quite what it appears. NO LEAN on the side, and total lean UNDER.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ New York Knicks (Pk) with a total of 218;
I sure hope this one isn't decided at the free throw line, because the game might never end. Two teams that can seriously make foul shots, and can both really put up some offensive numbers. The Thunder are not playing the world's finest team defense, and on a back-to-back spot (off a game in Charlotte last night), I would have to believe that the first thing to do is going to be the defensive effort. When you're tired, it's very easy to get caught up in the Knicks' style of play, up and down the court, trying to out-gun the opponent, and for that reason, I think this line is telling us that the tempo is going to be quite high. The Thunder are the better team on a neutral setting, no question, but when you throw together that the Knicks have had 3 days to regroup after a tough span that saw them lose games to Boston and Miami (and then a letdown loss in Cleveland), this one gets much closer. The Thunder have also played a handful of games with a total up in the 215 range, and those have all gone Over the mark. What does that tell us? Oklahoma isn't going to try to slow things down, people are going to get to the foul line and stop the clock, and buckets will be plentiful. Lean to the KNICKS and the OVER.

New Jersey Nets @ New Orleans Hornets (-9) with a total of 182;
This game has all the makings of a real ugly-fest. Neither team can score, reliably, and just when it seemed like the Hornets were starting to build a little momentum with a big win over Utah, the Hornets went on the road and laid a pair of eggs. I wonder if this isn't that game where two teams that generally fail on offense suddenly find a rhythm and shoot 50%? In any case, New Orleans should win this game, but covering 9 isn't going to be easy. The Nets are on the second half of a back-to-back that started last night in Memphis, so they'll be a little fatigued, but New Jersey's slow, defensive style of play has translated into success in spots such as this one. And considering that this line would be at 7 without the b2b adjustment, that just shows how little respect the Hornets are getting lately, and probably don't deserve much more. I am about 95% of the way to passing on this clunker, especially since, if ever there was a team for Jersey to pack it in and start thinking about that 5 day layoff, this would be it. Too many competing angles. If I had to force a lean, since I know you guys love forced leans, it'd be to JERSEY, but tread lightly. I think this game stays UNDER, as well.

Utah Jazz (-6) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of 208;
This is the final game for both teams before the Christmas Break, and in those cases, the normal move would be to take a peek at the home team, but given the scheduling angles, I'm not sure I'm on board with either club. Utah is in the final game of a 4-game road trip, where they dropped the opener in New Orleans, but have since rattled off a pair of wins (in Milwaukee and Cleveland). Minnesota is coming home off a 6-game road trip where they dropped all 6 games. Yikes. The first thought might be that Minnesota will want to bounce back, but we have to remember that the first game back home is generally not a good spot, especially considering the amount of travel Minnesota has logged in the last 2 weeks, and also how much you have to think they're looking forward to getting a few days off. This one comes down to the head coach, to me, and we all know Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams are not about to take a game off. Minnesota's young nucleus could very well be thinking about all those sweet days of rest and Christmas presents under the tree. Hell, considering how young Minnesota's roster is, a majority of those guys might be getting right back on a plane and going to see family. It's square, but I have a small lean to UTAH, and sluggishness factor leads me to the UNDER.

Denver Nuggets @ San Antonio Spurs (-7) with a total of 214;
San Antonio might officially be overvalued. Apparently, all it took was a 24-3 SU start for oddsmakers to begin to catch up. I only bring this up because the Spurs have won every game this month, except the first, and while they're 9-1 SU, they're 5-5 ATS. That's a pretty good sign that the oddsmakers have caught up. I would also argue that the Spurs are starting to win on buzzer-beaters, which makes me think they're settling in the Lakers-like trend of giving an A-minus effort, just enough to wrap up that win. This is a revenge game for the Nuggets, though you have to think that Denver's collective brain is swirling right now, with all the rumors heating up. Denver plays again on Christmas Day, though I hardly think the Thunder are a team to look ahead to, when the Spurs, who just beat you on your home court, are standing in the way. The Spurs actually play again tomorrow in Orlando, so who knows if there is any sort of mental stuff going on with such a strong team. I would tend to think that the Spurs are going to be fine, mentally. Are the Nuggets? Tough to back a team dealing with emotional stresses, and tough to back a Nuggets team that has been pretty pedestrian on the road, but something tells me they hang within the 7 points and lose by 5-6. Small lean to DENVER and the UNDER.

Houston Rockets (-1) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 207;
The high total makes me think that Houston is going to dictate the tempo, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Houston is going to cover. If the Clippers get rolling, they can put up some serious points in the paint. Blake Griffin is an absolute menace around the bucket, and we saw Eric Gordon take the ball to the hoop a bit more in the Clippers current 3-game winning streak. We're also seeing Ryan Gomes playing some all-around decent basketball, Baron Davis starting to enjoy himself again, and even Rasual Butler providing a little shooting off the bench. The Clippers are doing a lot of good things offensively, and Houston doesn't seem like a team up to the task of stopping them. Maybe I'm out of my mind, but I've really, really liked what I've seen from the Clips the last few games. Something clicked, and they're both scoring and rebounding. Houston is shooting the lights out from downtown, and that's got them winning some games, too, but with each club looking at a long layoff, I have to give a slight nod to the home team. Something to keep in mind, though - teams on a run usually don't want a layoff, and both of these teams are candidates to come out of the 4-5 day break slowly, having lost some of the momentum they are building right now. We'll reassess that situation soon enough. Slight lean to CLIPPERS and OVER.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nobody Beats Me, I'm The Wiz

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Dallas Mavericks @ Orlando Magic (-4) with a total of 190;
This game is pretty heavily reliant on the outcome of a few games yesterday. I desperately want to see how Orlando's new guys fit in in their Monday night game in Atlanta, and Dallas is heading into down off a tough game with the Heat...let's add more to this one shortly. And now we've seen yesterday's play out, and the Mavs once again dominated on the road. They put the road blocks in front of the hottest team in the NBA, the Heat, and now they head to a discombobulated Orlando team, looking to "pull a Utah" and sweep the Florida swing. Both teams are playing back-to-backs, and I really fail to see how the Mavs slow down a ton. Looking at the minutes from last night, Dwight Howard played 42 minutes in the Magic loss at Atlanta, and all 5 Orlando starters played over 30 minutes. The Mavs, a deeper team, budgeted minutes better, and are also playing some tremendous basketball. Even if they lose, it seems like Dallas won't fall behind by more than 5-6 points, and late in the game they have great free throw shooters and solid 3-point guns to close games. How can I not? Lean to the MAVS and the UNDER.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Charlotte Bobcats with a total of N/A;
The Thunder started to get a little high and mighty, then Phoenix rolled into town and shot 58%. Thing is, the team had been talking a big game about playing defense, but when you look at their recent opponents, the big-time defensive efforts came against the Cavaliers and Kings, two teams that can't score to save their lives, especially on the road. Charlotte definitely has trouble scorin, but they're a better home team than road, and the Thunder's home/road splits aren't that severe. I'm pretty curious to see where this one opens up, though I figure it'll be in the 5-point neighborhood. I must say, given the Thunder's team-wide issues on defense, and the fact that Charlotte's home losses have largely come against the best teams in the NBA, this one might end up closer than people think. The Thunder only lost to the Suns by 3 points, but got significantly outplayed and only free throws kept it close. The Bobcats are probably a bit better defensively than Phoenix, and though they aren't nearly as competent on offense, they remain a decent play at home. I prefer to take Charlotte to beat bad teams at home and cover 3-5 point spreads, but if they're catching 5-6 in this one, I might be tempted. Lean to BOBCATS and the OVER.

New Jersey Nets @ Memphis Grizzlies (-8) with a total of 187.5;
The Grizzlies are actually playing some solid basketball against everyone not named Houston. They have covered every game in the month of December except the two contests with the Rockets. So it goes with the Grizz. New Jersey has played decent basketball the last 3 games, or so, but they continue to have all kinds of issues scoring, and unless they can hold an opponent to around 90 points, they're in big trouble, and even then it's questionable. Memphis has really ramped up its team defense, and are really, really rebounding the ball well at home. If you toss out the Houston games, the Grizzlies are one of the teams that has overachieved against the number all month long, and the oddsmakers are just starting to catch up. The Nets, meanwhile, are playing solid defense at home, but continue to have issues scoring enough to keep up on the road. And Memphis's outstanding team rebounding could be disastrous for New Jersey, a team that desperately needs to limit second chance opportunities since they, themselves, can't really score. This number might look large, but I think it's pretty close to accurate, and given the Nets road woes and the Grizzlies hot play, I lean to MEMPHIS and the UNDER.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Chicago Bulls (-6) with a total of 190.5;
Is this line just a huge adjustment for Joakim Noah's injury, the Sixers recent hot play, or both? This is a pretty darn short spread for a Sixers road game, but Philadelphia has done nothing to make us doubt their recent play. The Sixers have covered 11 of 12, only failing to do so against the suddenly surging Lakers. The Bulls, meanwhile, seemed to feel the distinct lack of a defensive presence inside with Noah out, and the Clippers shot 51% against Chicago in a stunning road upset. So, is something wrong with the Bulls? I doubt it. I happen to think Chicago is going to be fine, and I think this line might be a hair overadjusted from the two factors listed above. Does that mean I'm hopping on Chicago at the short number? Absolutely not, since Philadelphia's incredible run of success makes them dangerous on every night, and we'll start fading Philly when they get overrated. I don't think we've seen the end of the line adjustments for the Sixers, though, which means it's not time to step in front of that train. Side is SPOT ON, and slight lean to UNDER.

Golden State Warriors @ Sacramento Kings with a total of N/A;
A Northern California battle that will make your hairs stand on end...or might make you nauseous. Either way, it might be one of the better spots to lay our money on this card. The Warriors are bottoming out, now dealing with injuries to their big men at just about every spot, and also trying to fight through a Steph Curry injury. This is also the second night of a back-to-back, but there's almost no travel, and the Kings are, well, the Kings. Sacramento covers about one game every week, they have absolutely nothing going on, offensively, and if that's not bad enough, they stink on defense! The Kings are, far and away, the worst team in the NBA, and I'm not sure there's any number oddsmakers can put out for this team that makes much sense. They have covered a few games at home, but those have come against opponents in letdown spots or dealing with massive injury issues. Here, they're likely going to be asked to win the game to cover (or close to it), and I just can't see Sacramento out-scoring the Warriors in the 4th quarter of a tight game. Oh, and the Kings can't rebound that well, either, normally a stat where I'd imagine they'd have the edge over the generally undersized Warriors. Lean to GOLDEN STATE and the UNDER.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Los Angeles Lakers with a total of N/A;
I know the Lakers are rolling, and our buddy Sink's system says to keep playing them, but a few key angles are telling me not to. First, this is the Lakers first home game off a 7-game road trip (though the first game was a "road" contest against the Clippers). This is a huge sluggish spot for LA, especially against a Milwaukee team that they clubbed on the road in an earlier road trip. Second, the line is going to be inflated an extra 2 points with the Bucks on a back-to-back. Milwaukee has shown time and again that they're not really bothered by playing in back-to-back spots. They haven't been as tremendous this year as they were last season, but much closer to 50-50, so those 2 points might be about right, but they're certainly not too few, if that makes sense. Plus, the Lakers host Miami on Christmas Day in their next game, and this is a big-time look-ahead. The Bucks, on the flip side, have one more game before the Christmas holiday, a road game in Sacramento. This is a bad situational spot for LA, and though they could very easily win by 30, I think there's a 55% chance Milwaukee comes to play and makes LA work for it. Lean to the BUCKOS and the UNDER.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An NBA Week Begins, Pt 9

Weekend Recap:

Saturday was a productive day, though it ended with a small free loss when the Nuggets blew a 20-point lead. We began the day with a winner on BYU to get the Bowl Season off on the right foot, continuing the CFB beatdown we laid in the regular season.

Sunday, like Saturday, ended with a loss, and began with a much larger win. The Panthers led from start to finish and cashed our 3* NFL GOM, and we went on to split a pair of 1* plays on Cincinnati (W) and Denver (L).

Obviously would have liked the Sunday sweep, but making 3 units is never a bad thing, especially in the ultra-tight NFL.

Also, last week's "Tell-a-Friend" Podcast-contest was less than adrenaline-pumping. Only 3 people reported back to me with new listeners, which, unfortunately, like a 50-50 raffle, means the "pot" is much smaller. Poor participation means smaller prize, and Dub22, our winner, gets 3 Pregame bucks. Hopefully next time, more people will play!

Pro(mo) Section:

Last week the blog's had no promo due to me being out of town the previous week and due to running in place on the betting ledger.

This week, the focus is on the still-very-valuable COLLEGE BOWL SEASON PASS!

My Bowl Season Package is only $99, a solid 33% less than most other cappers, and that's because I am a low-volume CFB bettor. If you're looking for fewer plays with the best winning percentage, those 99 clams will not only save you money off others' packages, it'll make us all a goodly handful as the winning tickets pour in.

In addition, the Bowl Season Pass will include ALL THREE of my Bowl Season "Big" Plays, which went on a 10-2, 12-week run in the regular season.

And with that, a blog...

Sports Wagering: NBA

Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks with a total of N/A;
This is an effort to try to choose between two teams that are supposed to be pretty darn good, but each dealing with issues. The Hawks offense seems to be stagnating, as we knew it would once the loss of Joe Johnson started to catch up with the team. But then, all of a sudden, Joe Johnson returned! And, no surprise, he was rusty, and the offense continued to sputter. Atlanta will slowly improve, as will Orlando with their crop of new (and returning) players, but chemistry cannot be overvalued, and I wonder how long it takes for the new Magic to learn the defensive schemes. Sure, Jason Richardson, Turkoglu and Arenas will find opportunities to score, but will they understand how to defend, since Orlando absolutely owned the Hawks defensively last year. Atlanta did finally get some revenge the last time these teams met, so that angle is somewhat wiped off the table, and while a forced lean would be to ORLANDO, this is a game better utilized for scouting the new personnel. In that same vein, I'd lean UNDER due to the continuity issues on offense.

New Orleans Hornets @ Indiana Pacers with a total of N/A;
The Hornets seem to be turning things around a tiny bit. That second half comeback against the Kings got the offense going, at least in the short term, and we'll know more about how the Hornets handle pressure when that contest with Detroit comes to an end on Sunday night. Still, I can't help but feel like the Hornets are destined to have issues scoring, and they can come and go at almost any moment. Meanwhile, the Pacers are starting to round back into some sort of equilibrium after putting together a strong road showing a few weeks back. They lost a couple, Danny Granger missed a game, and now it seems like they're finding a middle ground. I suppose you could argue that because Indiana played earlier on Sunday, they're in slightly better shape, in terms of energy, but outside of that, I'm not sure there's a ton to go on, here. The Hornets are the team with better momentum between these two clubs, and as we know, Paul has a knack for keeping games close with non-elite teams, home or road. I'm pretty curious about the line, though I expect to see Indy as a small favorite. Tiny lean to NEW ORLEANS and the UNDER.

Utah Jazz (-8) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 196.5;
Right up front, let's get this out of the way - I want no part of the side in this one. This is a truly monstrous road favorite line for any team in the NBA, and though I believe I did note back on Friday that the Cavaliers are going to be seeing some hugely inflated lines, I'm not sure I can trust them to keep up with the Jazz. They did a nice job of hanging with the Knicks, who were in a huge letdown spot off games with Boston and Miami, but Utah comes to town in the 3rd game of a 4-game roadie that leads up to Christmas, and we've seen Utah do some serious damage in road games. From a pure line value standpoint, you can probably make a case that this line is maybe a point too high, but that's not nearly enough for me, and without other angles at play, it's a spot to leave alone. Thus, PASS on the side. As far as the total goes, I'm tempted to look at the Over, since we know Cleveland tries to push the pace, and Utah tends to get good looks in the first 14 seconds of the shot clock, but both teams have actually been playing a little slower in the last week or so. Small lean to the UNDER.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Washington Wizards with a total of N/A;
I don't know how Washington does it, but they keep finding ways to cover games at home, even without John Wall. Now, of course, they'll be without Arenas, who got shipped off to the Magic, and instead get the underachieving Rashard Lewis. Al Thornton can likely say goodbye to his playing time, but I suppose we'll see. In terms of non-player-related angles, Charlotte has just 3 road wins on the year, but one of those came here in Washington. I wonder if that translates to them being comfortable here, or if Washington comes out with a sense of purpose. Washington is coming off a tough 1-point loss to the Heat, so there is potential for a letdown. Charlotte got called out by its owner after a lackluster effort in Memphis, and then went on to lose the very next game in Atlanta. Half the Bobcats seem to be on the trading block, too, so I have no idea how that team is supposed to get focused on each game. I'm inclined to lean WASHINGTON, though I'm not sure I can trust them completely, and the UNDER.

Dallas Mavericks @ Miami Heat (-6) with a total of 191.5;
At a quick glance, I would think a lot of people will back Dallas because of their prowess on the road, but I feel like a couple of other factors are working against them. First, this is Dallas's first road game since December 4, off a 6-game homestand. Second, Miami is starting to show signs of "taking it easy" against lesser teams, and stepping up against the big name teams. That tells me they're confident, and starting to trust that they can win games when they need to. Third, this is a revenge game, as Dallas beat Miami by 11 down in Big-D on November 27th. Dallas is a solid team, and we know Charles Barkley loves them. Dirk Nowitzki is having a downright unreal year, but LeBron and D-Wade are putting the pieces together, and to me, this line is about where it should be. And yes, that loss in Dallas was the last loss the Heat suffered before deciding to win every game from that point forward. Dallas, by the way, has not been playing the world's finest defense the last few games, and that is a point of concern. Lean to MIAMI and the OVER, by about 2 points.

Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs with a total of N/A;
The Suns got some fresh blood, and I happen to think they got a lot better with the trade. In fact, it might have helped both teams. The Suns got a fully competent defensive center in Marcin Gortat, and added some athletes in Vince Carter and Mikael Pietrus. Pietrus feels like just the type of guy that Steve Nash can turn into a superstar, but time will tell. Phoenix isn't going to turn these guys into a championship roster, but they'll score more, that's for darn sure. The Spurs just keep beating teams, sometimes on buzzer-beaters, sometimes in overtime, sometimes just the old-fashioned regulation win, sealed up a few minutes earlier. They haven't been covering machines lately, but I don't think I can bet against San Antonio here, when there are so many question marks on the Phoenix side. This is, however, a revenge game for the Suns, so a few key angles are butting heads once again. Really, the smart play would be to see how Phoenix's new guys gel before betting, or if they're even on the floor (since word has it the new guys won't arrive before Thursday), but if I had to take a shot, I'd lean to the UNDER due to new bodies learning the offense, and a gun-to-head lean on SPURS.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Portland Trailblazers with a total of N/A;
Revenge and injury, the fun combo that we have to sort through in this contest. Portland is likely without Brandon Roy, and Milwaukee is likely without Brandon Jennings -- not a good first name to have, I guess. Portland also spanked the crap out of Milwaukee in Wisconsin back in early November, 90-76. The Bucks have come a long way since then, and Portland has, arguably, gotten far worse. The Blazers do seem to find ways to win games at home, but I'm working on the assumption that Portland is going to be laying a solid 5-6 points (time will tell), and they haven't won too many games by more than a handful lately. Aldridge has turned his game up, but it almost seems like, with Portland, either the offense is working or the defense is working, and rarely in tandem. The Bucks are a tough competitor, but without their engine, I can't see them having much success on the offensive end. Tiny lean to MILWAUKEE, but a bigger lean to the UNDER...unless the line is crazy-low, which it very well could be.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Clippers (-4) with a total of 211.5;
Both teams are in sort of "odd" scheduling spots, so, for me, this match-up is about finding the small disparities. Minnesota is finishing up a 6-game road trip, and though they've lost the previous 5 games, they have covered the last 3. They still don't play a lick of defense, but they had no trouble scoring in any of those 3 games. They also got behind by 20 in Denver before going on an extended run that cut the Nuggets lead under a bucket before finally falling. Minnesota is certainly in a tough spot, finishing up on the west coast after bouncing all over the place, and even though they're playing well, I have to believe that pathetic defensive effort eventually burns them. The Clippers return home off a 3-game Midwest road trip that saw LA shoot the lights out in the final 2 games. So, while this is traditionally a sluggish spot, I can't help but wonder if the Clippers are just brimming with confidence. Covering 4 isn't usually a problem if you're winning, but will Kevin Love explode coming back to LA? Can anyone keep him off the glass? If LA can limit the Wolves to one shot per possession most of the time, they'll take care of business. If you believe Minnesota racks up 15-20 offensive boards, this one comes down to the wire. Slight lean to CLIPPERS and the UNDER.

Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors with a total of N/A;
Houston seems to be improving by the day, and the Warriors, well, I'm not so sure. Golden State has had a pretty darn tough schedule the last few weeks, which certainly isn't helping that 4-15 SU disaster. Biedrins remains hurt, so David Lee, still injured, is set to play center again, and Steph Curry seems unlikely to return. I know Monta Ellis is a one-man wrecking crew, and I know Houston hasn't been that impressive on back-to-back spots, but they're a team on the upswing right now, and the Warriors are a team that desperately needs health. Houston got Aaron Brooks back in their last game, too, so suddenly the Rockets are very deep at PG, and the Warriors don't really have any. We should get an interesting line, given Houston's b2b spot, and until the Warriors beat a team better than the Wolves (2 of those 4 wins in the last 19 games are against Minnesota), I don't think I can trust Golden State to get the job done. Lean to HOUSTON and the UNDER.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

World's Craziest Push

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

New Jersey Nets @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
I'm quite curious about the line on this one. The Raptors have actually shot the ball pretty well at home, but they've looked positively anemic offensively without Andrea Bargnani, and there's no telling how long he'll be out. This is a back-to-back for the Nets, so one might look to fade a team in a fatigue spot, but I'm not sure I can get on board. The Raptors are not only suffering a tad offensively without Bargnani, it seems like the losses of Evans, Bargnani and Calderon are taking a toll on the defensive end. That surprised me. I didn't really see those guys as defensive powerhouses, but the last 4 straight opponents have shot over 50% against the Raptors, and it's awfully tough to win, and in this case, cover as a favorite, when the opposition is making more shots than they miss. Of course, the opposite seems to be the case for Jersey, as they are basically finding ways to shoot 40% or lower, against both good and bad defensive teams. So, which is going to give? I suppose when it comes down to weakness against weakness, I would give the nod to the home court and the rested team. Small lean to TORONTO (line depending) and the UNDER.

Miami Heat (-4.5) @ New York Knicks with a total of 209;
Some big games for the Knicks lately, eh? If we've learned anything, those Knicks can score. Felton has come along quickly, Amar'e is "stat", and guys like Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields, Toney Douglass and Danilo Gallinari are all doing their parts, as well. The Knicks are a fun team to watch. The Heat are on a roll of their own, and head into New York on the heels of a little bit of a letdown game against the Cavaliers. This line is a point higher than the number Boston was laying, which makes me think that the results should be close to the same. I don't see how Miami's weak interior defense is going to be able to do anything to stop Amar'e that Boston didn't try. The Heat are going to be able to put more pressure on the Knicks wings and potentially draw more fouls, but as long as Amar'e stays on the floor, I just can't see New York getting pushed too far behind, at home. I said it two days ago, and I'll say it again here, I would not be at all surprised to see this game come right down to the wire. Maybe not a buzzer-beater, like with Boston, but free throws and a couple points down the stretch are not far-fetched. With that in mind, and because I believe teams can "get up" for a few games in a row, I lean KNICKS again, and the jumbo-size total makes me think Knicks tempo, and OVER.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Indiana Pacers (-9) with a total of 196;
As Danny Granger goes, so go the Pacers. Granger missed some time, played hurt, and the Pacers have been getting spanked. Will he be back to his normal self for this one? Tough to say, but I know for darn sure that laying nearly double digits needs exploring before any sort of motion is taken. This is also the 3rd meeting between these two teams already this season, which is a great spot for those of us that love to watch games and study results. The first meeting occurred on November 13th in Cleveland, where the rested Cavs were a 1.5-point favorite, and the Pacers won by 14. The next meeting was just 10 days later in Indiana, and once again the Pacers were the "fatigue" team, laying 5 points at home in a game they won by 11. Now, with both teams rested, the line is at 9, a second adjustment to this power ranking. How much of an adjustment is too much? How far does this line need to go to be a value back on the Cleveland side? I happen to think the Cavs competing with the Heat for the full 48 minutes is going to get them going a little bit, and we might very well see an upset. Indiana is in a slump, and if Cleveland is even pondering come out of their funk, we could be seeing 3-4 points of value nightly on Byron Scott's bunch. Lean to CLEVELAND and the OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers (-5) @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of 196;
Philly has been playing truly spectacular defense, and that has led to the team covering 10 straight games. The Lakers, after a rough stretch, seem to have been reinvigorated by the return of Andrew Bynum, and they've powered out to giant leads in their last 3 games, only to have the bench let the opposition climb back into "near backdoor" range. Still, the Lakers prowess is always there, and this is absolutely one of those games I wouldn't touch a side with a 10-foot pole. You've got the Lakers, clearly turning a corner and starting to function offensively once again, and you've got the Sixers, who are outperforming the line every night, and have been especially successful at home. At 17-7 ATS on the year, Philly has quietly become one of the best wagers in sports...but not tonight. PASS on the side, and OVER lean on the total, since the Lakers are ramping that offense back up, and I think Philly can come close to matching.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Detroit Pistons (-3) with a total of 189.5;
As we move into the middle parts of the season, almost every game is going to be a balancing act. Scheduling angles, motivational, revenge, line movement, power ranking adjustments...the list goes on and on. Here, we have a few to weigh. First is revenge - the Clippers lost to Detroit in Los Angeles in overtime. The Pistons looked decent on that road trip, and both teams have fluctuated a tad since. Second is power ranking notes. The Pistons were considered 1.5-point superior to the Clippers in that game, and covered, and now here are concerned LA's equal. Have the Clippers improved 1.5 points, has Detroit fallen 1.5, or somewhere in between? And what about the fact that Detroit is 6-6 at home SU, and the Clippers are a perfectly miserable 0-11 on the road? The Clippers do have one guy that can shoot near 50% in every game, and that generally keeps them somewhat close, but Detroit can knock down the 3-ball, especially at home, and should probably have beaten Toronto, too, if the Raptors didn't shoot a ridiculous 63% from the field. I know there's revenge, but too many of the Clips stink too much to back them on the road yet. Lean to PISTONS and the UNDER.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Atlanta Hawks with a total of N/A;
I'll make my point right up front in this one - I'm not backing Charlotte on the road until they show any signs of life. They have failed to cover the last 6 straight road games, including blowout defeats at the hands of the Grizzlies, Sixers and Hornets, and slightly closer losses to the Pacers, Bucks and Knicks. This is a little bit of a potential letdown spot for the Hawks, but they've played alright in most of their back-to-back spots, and have actually had quite a few this year. This one might be tougher, given the Atlanta injury situation (Crawford, Johnson, etc.), but like I said in the first sentence, the Bobcats are so terrible on the road, I can't put money behind them. I'll be curious to see where this line opens with Atlanta playing the b2b. Considering Charlotte was an 8.5-point dog in Memphis when the Bobcats were playing the b2b, and I have Atlanta as a shade better than Memphis, I wouldn't be surprised to see this one in the 7-point range. I suppose the balancing act with this one is Charlotte's road woes against the Atlanta letdown off a game in Boston that was talked about as a regular season "playoff" game for the Hawks. Tough call - let's see the line, but my gut reaction is tiny lean to ATLANTA (but prefer the PASS) and the UNDER.

Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-11.5) with a total of 205;
Sacramento had one bullet to fire on their current road trip, and they fired it in New Orleans. Of course, it didn't quite lodge itself. The Kings got out to a huge lead down in Nawlins, only to see the Hornets come roaring back on the shoulders of the recently-injured, and recently dog-housed Marcus Thornton. Now, Sacramento heads to visit the Thunder, a team not currently experiencing the type of offensive malaise that the Hornets were, and we all saw what happens to the Kings when they face a team that can shoot - they get smashed. The Kings have lost by some huge margins this year, and the Thunder have actually covered 4 in a row while scoring quite a bit. I know 11.5 is a big number, but it's only 2 points more than Sacramento got in Houston, and the Thunder are at least 3 points better than the Rockets, so I might even argue there's a tiny hair of value with a team laying 11.5. It feels weird, I know, but the Kings are truly awful. Evans returning early was a shot in the arm, but force him to hit a jumper, and the Kings go stagnant. Lean to the THUNDER and the UNDER, but the total is pretty close to spot on.

Utah Jazz (-1) @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of 189;
This total screams New Orleans, doesn't it? This total isn't anything out of the ordinary for a Hornets game, but considering the total was only 1.5 points lower against the defensive-minded Heat or the offensively-inept Kings, this one means more, in my opinion. Plus, toss atop that little tidbit the fact that this is Utah's 2nd total all season in the 180's. Oddsmakers aren't stupid, and they know that the Hornets are going to try desperately to keep Utah in a slower, uglier game, and the fact that this number is so low certainly speaks to the idea that the Hornets might have some success with it. And perhaps more important than all that other "total reading"...since I know many are skeptical of its powers, the Hornets, for the first time in probably 3-4 weeks, have momentum. I know it was just a win over the lowly Kings, but it was a monumental comeback effort, and the type of second half performance, and eye-opening show by Marcus Thornton that can breathe life into a team that was playing some impotent basketball. I happen to think this one stays close until the end, and I believe Thornton and Paul make a few key plays for a narrow Hornets win. It's also a revenge game from a blowout loss in Utah on November 24th. Lean to HORNETS and the UNDER.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets (-4) with a total of 203;
Say what you want about big paragraphs in my blogs, but this game isn't going to be one of them. I love what the Grizzlies are starting to do on defense, but for whatever reason, playing the Rockets is like drugging the entire team. Memphis got spanked by Houston at home earlier this year, got swept last year, and the fun just continues. Memphis is playing its best basketball of the season right now, though, so perhaps this is the first time to be cautious, and Houston just got the news that Yao might just be done for his career. How will they react to the idea that they're without the big man, possibly forever? Houston is shooting the ball extremely well lately, led largely by the hot hand of Kevin Martin, but the Grizzlies recent dedication to playing defense has catapulted them back (in my opinion) into the top-8 in the West after a very slow start. Still, revenge hasn't seemed to matter in this series in recent history, so until Memphis proves that they've overcome their issues with Shane Battier, I'm not switching it up. After the streak is broken, we can rethink things. Lean to HOUSTON and the UNDER.

Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks (-7) with a total of 210.5;
I hate to say it, since I know I'll get blasted, but I think now is the perfect time to fade the Mavericks. They had their colossal run, crushed many a team, and then finally dropped one to the Bucks. Then, the following game, the line was just inflated. It wasn't like the Mavs played poorly, and they probably will play relatively well again in this one, but when the line is overcooked, the close ones are going to go the other way. Of course, it's quite possible that the Mavs will blow out some teams, but generally, and this applies to all sports, after a team goes on an extended winning streak, they don't usually post a ton of blowouts. This is where we'll get Dallas's "A-minus" game, which means they'll probably win, but it'll be 5 points closer than usual. And as for Phoenix, Jason Richardson started showing signs of life, and that's a key for them to cover against anyone. I'm not completely sold on the Suns, since Steve Nash has admitted his groin injury is hurting his shot, but if J-Rich can knock in a few threes, and Dallas gives a 90% effort, I could see this one, like Portland, being decided by 5. Slight lean to PHOENIX and the OVER.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Portland Trailblazers (-8.5) with a total of 200;
We know Minnesota's weakness...teams that play defense. They can generally trade buckets with the offensive-minded teams in the NBA, but when they go against a club that can lock down, rebound, and make them work, Minnesota tends to have issues. This would seem to be one of those spots, potentially, and a pretty low line, all things considered. On the other side, Portland is in a potential sluggish spot, playing their first game back home after a 4-game road trip, but then, looking over Portland's schedule so far this year, they've had 4 road trips of 3 games or more already, and they've covered in 3 of the 4 games immediately thereafter, including one against the lowly Clippers. This is technically a divisional game, so Portland should care a little, and the Blazers have been significantly better at home of late. The square goggles have been strapped on, and I'm leaning PORTLAND and the UNDER.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TNT Games and a Stinker

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Washington Wizards @ New Jersey Nets with a total of N/A;
This one is a mess. And by taking a quick peek at the start time, you can quickly assess that this is not one of the TNT games. The two teams involved might have been a tip-off, too. In any case, this game, to me, comes down to who plays. If the Wizards continue to deal with the injury bug, and John Wall and Andray Blatche can't make the game, the Nets should be able to slow things down and make the game nice and ugly. If Wall plays, and is actually healthy, the Wizards have a shot. Still, that team is so very, very young and can't make a shot to save their lives on the road, so until Washington posts a road win, I don't think you can rightly back them. Washington can cover some games at home, there's no doubt about that, and the Nets have been clanking along to about the same spectacularly awful tune that the Wizards have, but I'm inclined to think the "addition by subtraction" trade the Nets made has created a new buzz around the team. They're going on audition, and I think they show up with a marginal performance - enough to win, but cover? Let's see the line. Lean to JERSEY and the UNDER.

Atlanta Hawks @ Boston Celtics with a total of N/A;
This game, to me, depends quite a bit on how Boston's game with the Knicks goes. We've seen Boston struggle in fatigue spots this year (not surprisingly, given the lack of depth and age of the players), but if they drop this so-called rivalry game in New York, you have to think they come home looking for blood. If Boston can pull out a tough one against the Knicks, this is a spot where the Hawks might be able to jump back up. I will admit, though, the Hawks looked pretty awful in their last game, getting blown out in Detroit. I still think the Joe Johnson injury is going to catch up with Atlanta eventually, and I worry that game in Detroit might have been the start. This brings us to an interesting side point -- handicapping football is very much predicated on understanding how the betting world reacts to each game. In the NBA, it's about understanding how the world reacts to a WEEK of games, and then staying ahead of the curve. If Atlanta is starting to cool off after a nice warm run, it might behoove us to try to beat the rush. And yes, Boston killed Atlanta earlier this year, which some might see as a revenge spot, but I worry might just be an indication that Atlanta isn't good enough to compete with Boston, any more. Oh, the humanity. Another game with 2 competing angles. Let's talk more about it once Boston and New York is decided. My expectation is a lean to ATLANTA and the UNDER.

San Antonio Spurs (-1.5) @ Denver Nuggets with a total of 214.5;
This is a colossal total, and a pretty hefty opening number for the Spurs. I mean, I know San Antonio is playing good basketball, but to be a 1.5-point road favorite on the second night of a back-to-back is really giving San Antonio a wild amount of credit. Everyone take a moment and process this. This line is an announcement that the Spurs are a 6.5-point neutral court favorite over Denver. Would they really be a 9.5-point home favorite if they played again after a day off? This is classic line inflation due to the Spurs' success, and I have to give the slight nod to the Nuggets just because of the number. The huge total also would seem to point to a Denver-paced game, and going into altitude on the second night of two games, as we've seen before, is tough. It's not quite as bad when a team plays at 8pm ET the night before (as opposed to a 10pm game on the West coast), and the Spurs are gaining time due to zones, but even with the normal night of rest, the legs might be tough to find. The Spurs will try to win this one with defense, and if we believe Denver is the team we saw in their last 3 games, I lean NUGGETS, and the huge total makes me think the OVER is being hinted...
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