Saturday, January 02, 2010

Bowling for Buckets, Frame 14

Ah, that's the good stuff. And really, I don't mean to sound like Hilary Duff at the MTV Awards, but I don't think I could have done it without all my NBA guys. The active discussion, and more importantly, the overwhelming confidence (and suggestions to loosen up and just make the picks I believe in) I think played a large part in getting 2010 started on the right foot.

We picked up a Paid Play 1* winner with the New Orleans Hornets who certainly made things interesting, but severely outplayed the Rockets in the 4th quarter, when it counts the most, and covered the small home spread. On top of that, we nailed our Free Play yesterday as a 0.75* play on the Bulls, who knocked off the Magic outright as a home dog. Both plays yesterday were among the best I had seen in a few days, and that's why I upped the Free Play from the normal half-unit to 3/4 (as listed in the Free write-up), so we could really capitalize on what I felt were extremely strong selections. I did, however, want to keep both to a unit or under since we had been on something of a 50/50 streak over the last couple weeks, and I want to get a true hot streak going before I really pull the trigger on a bigger play.

Sports Wagering

Pacers @ Knicks - Knicks by 8 with a total of 205. My my, this is quite a large spread for a team that hasn't really shown itself to be a "blow-teams-out" sort of club! Still, the Knicks are so hit-or-miss with their pattern of outside shooting that it seems like when they play well for anywhere from 30-40 minutes of the 48-minute game, they have a decent shot to pick up a win. I find this spread interesting as the Knicks have never, all season long, been a favorite of this magnitude. This spread likely would have been -6 had the Pacers not beaten up on Minnesota last night, but oddsmakers are assuming some significant fatigue on the part of the undermanned Indiana club, and they're more than likely correct. To say Indiana is shorthanded is the understatement of the year -- even in a blowout win over the Wolves, Indy used just 9 players, and they remain without the services of Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, T.J. Ford and Tyler Hansbrough. The fact that they won last night against Minnesota is not that surprising, though, as these patchwork clubs often find a way to get fired up when a low-level team comes to town that they know they've got a shot to beat, and that's just what we saw. Now, though, the Pacers have to take on a resurgent Knicks club that posted a solid 9-6 record in the month of December, and won their 2010 debut over the Hawks, in Atlanta. I'm a little concerned that the Knicks will suffer a letdown in this game, coming home off such a big road win, but at the same time, I think the Pacers might suffer a similar letdown going into a tougher place to play after finally scratching across a win at home. This game has "line movement play" written all over it. If indeed this line is "high for a reason", I would expect to see an early shift to 8.5, and conversely, if oddsmakers just overvalued the Knicks because of their road win, I think 7.5 will jump across at us first. The total of 205 is already up 2 points from the Opening line, so it's clear sharps think this one gets moving at a decent clip, and why not? The Pacers have gone Over in 3 straight, and the Knicks defense has devolved a bit in their last 2 games, though they've scored enough to win 1 of those 2.

Spurs @ Raptors - This line is OFF. I'll tell you right now, I will not go against the Spurs unless there is some serious line movement or insane value that makes me change my mind. That is to say, this team, San Antonio, heads in Toronto on the second half of a back-to-back (they won last night in Washington and covered). They've now won, and covered, 5 straight games, and to say they're surging just isn't giving enough credit. We spoke at length in yesterday's blog about how much Manu Ginobili improves this team, and it may be more obvious on the road than anywhere else. His teammates can shoot the ball just fine at home, so they don't really need his boost, but on the road, where free throws, easy buckets, and defense win games, Ginobili is a gamechanger. I expect to see the Spurs as small road favorites in this one, since Toronto is on the second night of a back-to-back, too. The Raptors, though, are off a loss in Boston, despite the Celtics playing without 3/4 of their relevant ballers. I don't put a ton of stock in that loss, though, since the Raptors have been awful on the road all year. They have been better at home all year, and even collected 5 straight wins before the loss last night in Beantown. I fear this may be the start of a short losing streak for Toronto, and even though the Spurs are generally pretty awful on back-to-backs, because of age, I have to lean in their direction. It's easier to ride a hot streak than to try to pick the day it ends, and that's how I'm handling this one. I also think we see a total near 200, and I lean slightly to the Under.

Bobcats @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 10.5 with a total of 185.5. This game is a low-value one, in my opinion. I certainly start by checking out the Bobcats getting that many points, but with both teams on the second night of a back-to-back, the road team is going to be hampered much more than the home club, who are often inspired by the crowd noise. I'd say it's a positive for our road dog lean that Charlotte played in the afternoon yesterday, so they have had a little more time to recover, and the nice road win over the Heat should help propel them to at least a decent first half. Once again we are staring down the barrel of an inflated line, and we have to determine if the line is as large as it is for a reason, or because the Cavs are just overvalued. I am inclined to believe that, on this game, it's because the Cavs keep dominating (though they failed to cover last night in Jersey in an 8-point win). The Bobcats road woes are far from over, but I think the win in Miami was a solid jumping-off point, and I think they at least give the Cavs a "test", and lose by close to 10. This line is without huge value on either side, though again, I lean to the underdog. This total looks terribly low, even though both teams are technically defensive clubs. I really wouldn't be surprised to see the teams, both on back-to-backs, go a little easier on the defensive end, and the recent ability of the Cavs to get some easy buckets makes me think this one just reaches over 190. Let's keep an eye on it.

Sixers @ Nuggets - This line is OFF. The Nuggets really came through in a tough spot last night with a win in Utah without the services of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, but winning two games on a back-to-back is rarely easy when you're lacking such key pieces. Still, I hate to think that the value here is with the tired road Nuggets, but until we see this line and actually know who's playing, it's tough to argue any real point. When there are so many guys that may or may not play, I usually just like to skip the game altogether. It's just not worth the risk. Playing totals when injured players are returning after a long layoff is often the best move, but 'Melo hasn't missed much time, and Chauncey is the type of player that helps the team score, even if he himself isn't doing much, so this game is just a FULL PASS for me. Short write-up, I know, but this is value wasteland. Let's move on.

Mavs @ Lakers - Lakers by 6.5 with a total of 199.5. Another spot where a player injury is going to have a fairly large impact. The Lakers have, since the acquisition of Pau Gasol, generally given the Mavs fits -- that is, until early this year. Dallas rolled into LA on the second day of the regular season and beat the Lakers 94-80, and you can bet Kobe remembers. I can't help but think the Lakers snap their 3-game ATS losing streak (they're 2-1 SU in those games) with an 8-point win over the Mavs. Dallas beat a banged up Sacramento team last night, but I must admit, I'm a little surprised to see this line at just 6.5 even though Dallas is on a back-to-back. That Lakers lean feels a little tainted with a line this low. In fact, the more I stare at it, the more I think that unless this line moves up to 7 or 7.5, I don't think I could pull the trigger on the suddenly defenseless Kobe and co. Will LA get their act together and play some hard-nosed basketball without Ron Artest? It just doesn't appear that way, as Kobe seems to need to one-up himself on a nightly basis just to get the Lakers a SU win. What a conundrum! On the total, I think the poor defense rears its ugly head again. If the Lakers win, they're going to outscore the Mavs, and I think Dallas puts up a nice offensive game. Jason Terry usually plays especially well against the big foes. I lean Over.

1 comment:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch New Orleans Hornets, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.

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