Friday, January 15, 2010

Another Day, Another Buzzer-Beater

Here's something that's nice to type: "Another winning day!" What a relief; another Paid Play winner on an Under, and another one that featured a game-winning miracle three-pointer. But hey, I'm not concerned with who won, as long as it ended in regulation -- it did, and we've got 2 Paid Play winners in a row at long last.

We split the Free half-unit Plays with the Nets getting buried early and rolling over, and the Pistons coming through with a solid overtime home victory against the Hornets. Nicely done by the Pistons, and though I would have loved a 3-game sweep, a winner on the bigger play above capping the 2-1 night brings us to 4-1 the last two days and hopefully starting a nice little run.

In any case, this 8-game card parallels the NFL Playoffs, so let's see if we can't squeeze some value out of some games not getting the action they might normally see!

Sports Wagering

Suns @ Bobcats - Bobcats by 1 with a total of 208. Well, for what it's worth, at least we won't have to worry about Morrison money. The Suns covered last night in a truly demoralizing loss to the Hawks. Phoenix outplayed Atlanta, especially for the first 11 minutes of the 4th quarter, but unable to rebound a Hawks missed free throw that led to a 3-point Atlanta possession, then a missed free throw of their own left the door open, and as you've probably already seen multiple times, Jamal Crawford doesn't mind shooting from 30 feet. Phoenix's road woes continue, and while they did cover the spread, I'm just not sure that this Suns team can be trusted to handle themselves on the road. Moreover, Phoenix is just 2-6 on the back end of these 2-games-in-2-night ordeals (or as the kids call 'em, "back to backs"). I just can't advocate backing Phoenix on the road, not while they've shown a complete inability to execute when it counts, and despite a huge points in the paint advantage over the Hawks, they just couldn't make Atlanta go away. The Bobcats, meanwhile, are coming off a very strong showing against San Antonio, dominating the Spurs in a 92-76 victory as a 2-point underdog, and this team just continues to shine at home. Charlotte's 15-4 home record is among the best in the NBA, and with the Suns decomposing on the road, my only real concern with a strong Charlotte lean is that they're ONLY laying 1 point, though a good deal of that is the back-to-back. The total of 208 might feel high for a Charlotte game, but I'm inclined to believe it's this high for a reason. In fact, this is the FIRST total for Charlotte all season long over 200 points. Phoenix has played to the Over in the second night of btb games, possibly because of a lackluster effort on the defensive end, and I lean Over, since I don't think oddsmakers would make an 8-point error.

Kings @ Wizards - Washington by 2 with a total of 211.5. By the time I'm done writing this Preview, this line will probably crash to a Pick, with the Wizards JUST NOW finishing off a 2-OT loss to the Bulls (but a cover). We all know Washington's situation - they're a team in disarray, but in a great situational spot, managed to send Chicago to the brink before falling by 2. Now, they come home on the second night of a back-to-back to host the Kings, who got run out of Philadelphia by a surging Samuel Dalembert. With both teams on back-to-back, the small advantage here has to go to Sacramento, given the less emotional nature of their game. Still, I don't think either team is in a valuable position, and my first thought is that I want no part of this side. The Kings are not very good on the road, the Wizards aren't very good anywhere, and I just have to look over at the total. If EITHER team can bring any sort of defensive intensity for even half a quarter, that might be enough to send this total under the mark. Just think for a moment about the energy the Wizards expended tonight in a solid offensive effort. This is a game that no one wants to play, and I believe that Kevin Martin is going to be the only guy on the court with some energy. I lean just slightly to Sacramento, and strongly to the Under, which may also be dropping while I type. My concern with the total is that I'm not going to be the only person that likes the Under. Let's watch the bet percentages and the line movement and see if this one continues to stand out later.

Hornets @ Pacers - Indiana by 1 with a total of 208. Two teams coming into this game on totally opposite sides of the back-to-back spectrum, but what does that mean, really? The Hornets might be suffering something of a letdown after a solid winning stretch, and they fell to the Pistons in overtime last night, as Detroit is waking up again, and the health of their better players is central in this mini-surge for Detroit. The Hornets continue this odd stretch of alternating 1-2 home games with 1-2 road games, this one again being on the road. Books very rarely will let a middling team like the Hornets crush the spread over and over again, and I think we're starting to see that adjustment, and it's our job to make sure we're spotting the adjustment and stay ahead of the curve. So now, I'd say we should start by looking to fade the Hornets, and only move TO New Orleans with huge reason. In this game, I don't believe there's huge reason. Indiana is streaking all of the sudden, and it's no coincidence that it happens to occur at the same time as the return of Troy Murphy and Danny Granger. Indiana is killing opponents at home, and they showed a renewed focus with last night's throttling of the Nets on the road. So, how about both teams on the back-to-back. These numbers are going to be a bit skewed because the Pacers have just been terrible in all situations without their stars, but let's check them out anyway. The Hornets are 3-4 SU and ATS on back-to-backs, so not terrible, but 2-4 in second games on the road; the Pacers are 3-8 SU, but 6-5 ATS, so they are clearly the better wager, showing better gumption when fatigued, and I believe they'll excel again. I lean Indy, and I lean Under, since I don't see these teams pushing the pace on their little nights of rest.

Knicks @ Pistons - This line is OFF. Another game with both teams on a back-to-back, but another unique one. The Pistons stay at home off last night's overtime win over the Hornets, so this team has now won 2 straight games outright, but the overtime is definitely going to be accounted for in the spread. It seems like the Pistons bottomed out in that loss to the Bulls, as a 30-plus point drubbing can often wake a team up, and now Detroit is playing with purpose. New York beat the pants off the Pistons in Detroit less than a month ago, in the pre-rock bottom time for Detroit, and you just know Detroit is going to want to come back tomorrow with another solid performance. Obviously, my concern is that the Knicks are a little more energized playing in a game that was decided pretty early, but at the same time, it takes a ton of energy to try to come back, and the Knicks were working on that all game long. Both teams are tired, and I have to lean to the home team despite the overtime situation the night before. I think we'll see a line that should be pretty close to a pick as oddsmakers start to slowly bring the Pistons back up a point or two in their power rankings, and I think we'll see a fairly low total, perhaps low-190's. If those are indeed the numbers we see, I don't like picking a side, but I lean Detroit and I'd lean to the Under due to fatigue.

Heat @ Thunder - Oklahoma by 4 with a total of 193. More teams on a back-to-back, another new spot. This time we've got the road team, Miami, rolling into town off a clubbing of the Houston Rockets, who just looked beyond tired. I wonder if Miami is going to run into a buzz-saw. Still, the Thunder come home off an emotional loss in Dallas, covering the number, but dropping a heart-breaker. I don't think either team has value in this one. The Heat are going to get some extra attention because of the big road victory, and the Thunder are going to be a little more fatigued, so it's sort of a lesser of two evils spot, here. Rather than get into the gritty details on each team's performance on back-to-backs (Miami 1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS; Oklahoma 3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS), I think it's more important to note that the two situational intangibles favor Miami. The Heat are confident, slightly more rested than the Thunder who also had to fly home for this one, and Miami is going to be looking to avenge a 13-point home loss to these same Thunder, a game that had Miami as a 6.5-point favorite, so this one swings quite a bit towards the Thunder, and a total that's actually set higher than the final score in the last game, which went Over a 183.5 total. Very weird numbers here, but the back-to-back could be partly to blame, as it does throw a wrinkle into things. I lean Miami, and I lean to the Over.

Spurs @ Grizzlies - This line is OFF. Thus begins the 3 straight games without a line, but we'll do our best to try to lay out the situational angles and see what we can find. For one, I was strongly hoping the Spurs would win last night against the Bobcats and come rolling into Memphis overconfident, but such was not the case, and that gives just a tiny bit more value to San Antonio than I was hoping for. Still, I have to look first at Memphis. The Grizzlies, amazingly, haven't played their division rivals yet this season, so we're going to be capping an awful lot of Spurs/Grizz games from here on out. The Spurs swept the season series last year, so I believe the Grizzlies will be motivated to show their neighbors they're a new, powerful edition, ready to tackle the tough competition. And what better time to go after San Antonio than on the back-to-back? The Spurs are also playing their 4th game in 5 nights, so they're bound to be a little dead-legged, and I have to think Memphis is going to see a spread that looks unfavorable, but in actuality will help us out. Truth be told, the Spurs started to look tired last night, so it's tough for me to see them bouncing back after traveling, getting another short night of rest, then trying to keep up with the up-tempo Grizzlies. Duncan is not the same player on the second night of a back-to-back, and it took a godlike effort from Dajuan Blair in Oklahoma City to keep from melting down in that game a few nights back. I lean hard to Memphis based on situationals and trends, also considering they expended almost no energy in a beating of Minnesota tonight. I also like the Under, since I think the Grizzlies don't get credit for their defense, but they should get a chance to flex a little muscle here.

Bucks @ Jazz - This line is OFF. This is a very scary spot for both sides, scarier for the Bucks, for sure. Let's talk about why it's a tough spot for Utah. The reason is simple: Deron Williams. That balky wrist started acting up again during the game on TNT Thursday, and magically, a replacement stepped in and had a game he'll never forget. I won't even pretend to know who the kid was, but Sundiata Gaines caught lightening in a bottle. He might very well play a decent game again, but the potential for Deron to be listed as "probable" then get scratched, or vice versa, makes me very nervous, as I've been burned with late scratches more than once lately. Still, that's only a little scary. Playing on the Bucks, despite the fact that they're going to be collecting, probably, 8-10 points, is even scarier. I know that looks like a fat chunk of points to be giving away, but let's stop and remember the situation. The Jazz had a night to catch up on Z's after the emotional win over Cleveland, so they've been able to gameplan for Brandon Jennings for a full day of practice, and make sure that whoever is playing is going to be ready. The Bucks, as I'm typing this around 10pm Pacific time, are STILL playing! Golden State is about to fall to the road dog Bucks, creating all kinds of value for a potential play on Utah in this game. I just love that Milwaukee won this game, because I feel we'll see the cookie-cutter altitude game in Utah. Milwaukee will come out of the gates still riding the adrenaline of their comeback win over the Warriors, but with every fast break layup that doesn't fall, and every time Ronnie Brewer lays someone out, that momentum is going to slip. Utah will take over late in the first half, then carry that into the second half for a blowout win. I lean hard to the Jazz, and I'm pretty confident, that, barring a crazy injury report, this will sneak onto my card somewhere. I also like the Under, since I don't think Milwaukee breaks 85.

Cavs @ Clippers - This line is OFF. This might be a great opportunity to grab the Clippers at maximum value, though I fear the Cavs' wrath after getting beat by a miracle in Utah. Cleveland continues a fairly long west-coast swing, falling in Denver to start the trip, and taking games in both Portland and Golden State before the loss in Utah. Still, I don't think a team like Cleveland lets that game with the Jazz hang on their conscience for too long. Lebron is a man-child, and he'll come to play, the question is will they cover what's likely to be a reasonable spread? The Clippers will be playing a back-to-back, so add 2 more points to the spread, but I also like the fact that despite being on the "road", the Clippers settled back into their homes yesterday, and should have the first-game-back sluggishness sort of wiped away. I honestly would love to take the Clips, since teams rarely perform any WORSE than a 30-point loss, but without Chris Kaman, I'm not sure this team can compete with a defensive-minded, top-quality team like the Cavs. Baron Davis could very well light it up, since Mo Williams can't stop him, and if Baron heads down in the post, as he should, he can get shots over Mo all night long. The issue is that Cleveland's help defense is outstanding, and the Clippers won't get many, if any, easy buckets. I still lean to the home team, since I figure they'll be getting a nice share of points, but it's going to be tough to pull the trigger. I also think we may see an Over, though that's largely dependent on the posted mark. Cleveland is going to want to get out and run after that trench warfare game in Utah, and the Clippers have been playing better offensively, though Kaman is one of the keys to that. Tough spot here.

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