Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mad Mavs II, The Road Warriors

I have but one word to describe the last two Paid Plays: "WHY?"

Twice in two days have we played wagers on home favorites, and twice in two days those home favorites have won the game with a buzzer-beater, yet failed to cover the spread. Couldn't just one of those games have gone to overtime, and allow the favorite a true chance to cover the spread? I sacrificed a lamb to the gambling gods, but they forsook me.

As far as the title of this blog goes, I just find it incredible how terrible the Mavs have looked ATS at home and how incredibly they've been on the road - just mind-blowing!

Sports Wagering

Celtics @ Raptors - A pick in Toronto with a total of 198. Didn't think we'd see the day when the Celtics weren't favored over the Raptors, but here we are, with Toronto playing half-decent basketball, and the Celtics are without their most ferocious weapon, Kevin Garnett. You've gotta think with the "relative marqueeness" of the two teams in this one, the Celtics are going to be garnering the vast majority of public money, especially against a team they just beat by 7, in Boston, a week ago, but this line doesn't favor the Celtics for a reason. Toronto has won 8 of 9, and covered 7 of those 9, with the only loss in there to these very same Celtics. A strong revenge angle should rear its head, and with the weird early Sunday start time up in Canada, this should be a tough spot for Boston. The Raptors finally gave up more than 103 points in their last game, a hard-fought 108-106 win over the Sixers, but these totals are much more reasonable on defense, and I think this game may feature the Celtics scoring in the mid-90's. I strongly believe Toronto wins this one by a reasonable sum, and courtesy of the Pick line, we can get a great idea of where the sharps sit, and where the public does, since it would take a lot of planning to set up a middle on a game this early. I lean Toronto, and I lean Under, since I don't think we get much fast-paced action in the early game.

Hornets @ Wizards - Hornets by 1.5 with a total of 198.5. Can New Orleans continue to win close games in this one? This isn't exactly a game they'll care about. The Hornets have won 5 straight games, though they failed to cover their last game, at home against New Jersey, and I wonder if we're going to see a couple of failed covers from the Nets now that they're through the "proving grounds", the games on the road against Utah and Oklahoma City. I'm curious to see how the motivation level is for New Orleans on this back-to-back in D.C. and Philadelphia. On the other side, you have the Wizards, who just beat the Magic fresh off the news that Gilbert is gone for as long as you can envision, courtesy of the wild, wild west locker room. I just wonder if this team is going to get the adrenaline going for a few games while they try to make a statement that they're not going belly-up without Gilbert. I like Washington's resolve in that last game, and I definitely do NOT see this game as a letdown spot for the Wizards. They're going to try to put together whatever they can right now, and the Hornets are beatable, especially here, starting a road trip to two cities they don't have any particularly strong feelings about. I lean Washington, and I lean Under, due to Washington's recent run of low-scoring games, somewhat unexpectedly low, in fact.

Heat @ Clippers - Clippers by 1.5 with a total of 193. Here's a strange matchup. Miami comes to Southern California off an outright underdog victory over the Phoenix Suns, a place that Miami generally does play pretty well. They also play well at Staples Center, barely losing to the Lakers earlier this year. Still, this is a different bird, with a surging Clippers club likely trying to build on the momentum of a win over the Lakers. I worry that this is a letdown spot for both teams, though, with both coming off impressive wins, I just can't see either team playing as well in this follow-up match. The Clippers have covered 5 straight, but this one just doesn't feel right for either team. No lean on the side. The total's an interesting bird, as the Clippers have been opening things up a bit lately. We know the Heat like to slow games down, as when they're playing defense they're at their best, but I get the feeling the Clippers somewhat mediocre defense and recent choice to start pushing the ball with a healthy lineup may lead to an Over. I know, short write-up on this game, but when I just get no feelings on the side, it's tough to elaborate. We may very well see sharps try to set up a middle, so don't be fooled if this one flips favorites to Heat by 1.5.

Nets @ Spurs - San Antonio by 14 with a total of 197. Well, Jersey got a cover in New Orleans, what's to stop them here? I'll tell you, a white-hot Spurs club playing defense and scoring. This is a scary team right now, even though they're coming off a home loss to the Mavericks. So, the question is, are the Spurs going to be angry enough to take Jersey down by 20 points, or are they going to be waiting patiently for the Lakers to come into town in a couple of days? My guess would to have to be that the Spurs are gameplanning for the Lakers already, and we're likely to see an 85% effort on this one. 14 points is just an absolute ton, and I think we see huge public money on San Antonio, so we'll keep an eye on this line. I lean Jersey, but I mean, come on, can we really play this game? Not so sure. This is a team, after all, that has gone 12-24 ATS this year, and no spread is high enough. That is, until the day you decide to play the other guys, hah. The total looks terribly high for a Nets game, but they're coming off a nice offensive game against New Orleans, and I think San Antonio allows an even faster tempo. I lean Over.

Cavs @ Blazers - Portland getting 5.5 at home with a total of 188. Uh oh, the fabled line. Road favorite of 5.5. Actually, for what it's worth, I think this one is accurate. We've seen a few that are trap lines, but after Cleveland closed favored by 4 in Denver, being favored by 1.5 more in Portland seems pretty reasonable. The Cavs come to Portland off a tough loss in Denver, a game that was seemingly much more important for the struggling Nuggets than the vastly superior Cavaliers. Interestingly, the Cavs are just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games, and the loss in Denver opened up a difficult road trip that will also send them to Golden State, Utah, and LA to play the Clippers. I know the Cavs are the better club, but I'm not sure I can trust them right now. That's not to say I can trust Portland. The Blazers got their typical home win over the Lakers, and I'd much prefer to see them play a low-level team in a letdown spot. Instead, we have to make a little bit of a guess as to how this extremely shorthanded team will handle two big teams in 3 days. If the past is any indication, Portland has been able to come back strong even in a potential letdown spot, as they showed in back-to-back road wins over Dallas and San Antonio in mid-December. They also played the Cavs tough in Cleveland, losing by just 5 points and covering a +10 spread on the road. That game was relatively high scoring, and went Over the posted total of 187 by 16 points. Here, interestingly, the side would seem to predict Portland doesn't play any better at home, and that's what scares me away from the typical +5.5 play. The total, though, is only 1-point higher despite the extremely high-scoring game in Cleveland. I believe oddsmakers are expecting a low-scoring game.

Bucks @ Lakers - LA by 10 with a total of 193.5. This Over is going to get killed, there is almost no question in my mind. So very rarely do you see a Lakers total this close to 190 that doesn't induce some public money on the Over, since folks, that's what the public likes best. Still, as we talked about yesterday, the public is winning some plays lately, and perhaps for the next week or two, we can't immediately eliminate particular plays just because they're square. Anyway, back to the game at hand. The Lakers return home after a stinker of a "road trip", losing to the Clippers and the Blazers, and as noted a few days back, when this team loses one game ATS, they almost always lose another. Well, now they've lost 2 straight, but they're just not the same team, defensively or offensively without Pau Gasol. Milwaukee has covered 5 straight against the Lakers despite going 1-4 SU, so do not be deterred by the fact that the Bucks look ripe for the picking. The Lakers have a road game in San Antonio coming up, but this feels more like the game where they look to build a little momentum than the look-ahead, so I don't think the Lakers will lose. I do, however, believe they will struggle to cover. They're just not scoring and defending like a team that can cover a large spread right now, because even when they put up some points, the opponents are scoring too. I lean to the Bucks, who have won 3 straight and sort of righted the ship. I also like the Under, since I think we'll see some solid defense at work in this one.

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