Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mr. Bebe's Glorious Return

A bachelor party weekend in the rear view, and it's time to get back to the NBA madness we've come to know and love so very, very much! I will be flying out of LAX tomorrow morning, headed back to the frozen tundra of Michigan, so I won't be around much in the middle of the day tomorrow, but this blog should serve as a nice reminder of all the good times we'll be having once I get back to the Midwest and can get back on a better schedule. A few paragraphs below ought to help soothe those withdrawal symptoms I know you guys are having!

I hope everyone had a profitable weekend and enjoyed easily the most interesting NFL Playoff day thus far, as well!

Sports Wagering

Pacers @ Sixers - Sixers by 4.5 with a total of 206. Remembering, of course, that I have been mostly disconnected from the world for a couple days, I'll do my best to keep my thoughts organized, but today's blog may be a little more jumpy/choppy than usual. In this game, we have the second meeting this season between the Pacers and Sixers, after Philly won the first meeting just 2 days ago in Indiana by 10 (as a 2.5-point dog). When you get into these home-and-home matches, two fairly evenly matched teams are always going to be hard-pressed to win both games, and I think this is another of those types. Neither of these teams is terribly impressive, though arguably, Philly is playing the better basketball right now. The swing on the spread indicates just that, as the spread moved 7 points between games. Both teams were on back-to-backs two days ago, so now we'll get an idea of how these teams handle themselves after getting a good night of rest. The line move between games is pretty reasonable, given how the Sixers dominated the Pacers, even on the road, but we have to remember that Philly remains one of the better ATS road clubs at 14-8, but just 5-16 ATS at home. The total coming down a point from the previous game's line is also fair, as that game on Saturday ended at 204. I think the total is spot on, but I do lean to the road Pacers to cover the 4.5 points.

Cavaliers @ Heat - Miami getting 1.5 points with a total of 190. Don't get me wrong, I'm not much a fan of watching Heat games, but there's certainly something to be said for Lebron vs. Wade. Here, the Heat come off two furious beatings, one of the Wizards, and another of the Kings, but this is going to be some new competition. I do not like backing teams off wins of 30 to 40 points, as I think this is one of those rare times that the line value is not on the team playing against the Cavs. Cleveland has won 4 straight games, but only covered against the Lakers in those four, so they're failing to pull away in games, and are coming off a 1-point home win over the Thunder. Believe it or not, I actually think the Cavs have some value here. I'm not a huge fan of either side, since the Heat already lost a home game to Cleveland earlier this season (111-104, a game that went WAY over the total), but the line on this one pretty accurately reflects the outcome of that previous game. The Cavs won, so now they're 1.5-points favorites instead of slight dogs, and the total went over by 30, so the posted line in this game is 10 points higher than the previous one. It's just important to remember, to put it in a more broad sense, that when two teams that are generally thought of as defensive clubs go head to head, it's not insane to see a higher-scoring game, since neither team really wants to settle into a slugfest, believing (accurately or otherwise), that doing so would play into their opponent's hands. I lean to the square play of Cleveland, and I still barely lean to the Over.

Clippers @ Celtics - This line is OFF. Boston comes into this one off a narrow home win over the Blazers that snapped a 3-game losing streak, and I just have to believe that the return of Kevin Garnett will, over the next week or two, give this team value again. That being said, he's not at full strength yet, or doesn't have his "basketball legs", but whatever the case, I think his return makes Boston a bad play. There is going to be a monster premium on any team with 3 superstars, and even a few more sub-stars. I really like the value we're getting with the Clippers even though this is a revenge game for Boston. The Clips are coming off a silly loss in Denver, a game they really had no chance to win, given the late flight, and visiting teams having difficulty playing in the altitude on a back-to-back. As expected, the Nuggets took over in the 3rd quarter of that game, and the Clippers mailed it in from there. They'll get their gear together for this one, and they'll make a nice push. As it stands, the Clippers have not been playing impressive ball on the road, but those losses and failed covers were mostly against lower-profile opponents (and the blowout loss to the Lakers), which means the Clippers weren't really a "value" play. In this one, I definitely believe they are, as I think we'll see a hefty line. The Clippers won the meeting in LA 92-90 on a last-second shot, a game that went Under a posted line of 190.5. Boston was an 8.5-point road favorite, so if this line doesn't open up in double-digits, that would indicate a potential trap. Be careful on this one, since Eric Gordon is still doubtful, and his absence severely limits the Clips, but I definitely lean Clippers, and I think another Under may be in the works.

Magic @ Grizzlies - Grizzlies by 1 with a total of 205. I like seeing Memphis getting respect like this, favored by a point to the Magic. This will be these teams' first meeting this year, after playing 2 low-scoring affairs, Memphis covering both. I don't know if it's a match-up issue, but the Grizzlies are a better team this year than they were last year, and they played it close even without the improved youngsters and the addition of Zebo. Orlando is coming off 3 straight wins, 2 at home over the lackluster Pacers and Kings, then a strong road performance against the Bobcats, so the Magic are hot right now, and that makes them scary in this game. The Grizzlies have won 5 of 6 (covering 4 of those 5 wins), so they're playing good ball, too, and picking a winner in this tiny-spread game is going to be awfully difficult given that there really isn't much value on either side. If the Magic are going to magically turn back into the road warriors of 2008-09, they might very well win another game by 10. The Grizzlies are damn tough at home, and without getting too much into the stats, since you guys all know Memphis's home values, and this hot team versus hot team scenario is just screaming pass. With a gun to my head, I lean to the Grizzlies to pick up a narrow home victory, and I like the Under a bit, but this one, I repeat, is a scary proposition.

Bulls @ Spurs - This line is OFF. This is an interesting spot, as we have a white-hot Bulls team against a somewhat slowing Spurs team. The Bulls lost the first two games of their current 7-game road trip to the Warriors and Clippers, but have since bounced back with wins over the Suns and Rockets, playing solid defense, and outhustling both clubs. Now, they come face-to-face with a slower, veteran club, trying to snag a win on their home court. The Spurs have lost the first 2 games of their 6-game homestand to the Jazz and Rockets, but they did finally get a 2-day break between games, which can truly mean the world to this achy old club. I'll be frank when I say I'm terrified of the Spurs on more-than-average rest, and they are indeed 4-1 this season with 2 days off between games. They have also ramped up the shooting, so perhaps it's the jumpshot that goes first, since they're 4-1 to the Over in those same scenarios. The Bulls have been scoring nicely, too, so my first inclination is to take a peek at the Over, and indeed if we can get a decent line, that might be a lean. These teams have met before this season way back in October, and the Bulls won that home game by 7 in a game that went way under. I like this match to go Over because the Spurs were on a back-to-back in that one, and it was not at all indicative of how this team can play when they get some sleep. I lean Spurs, but let's wait and see what we'll have to lay to take them.

Hawks @ Rockets - Houston by 1 with a total of 196.5. This is a tough game to get a grip on, as the Hawks will likely be considered a JM-A play, so our bet% numbers are going to be skewed wildly. Atlanta is hitting the road for 4 of their next 5 games, off a 4-1 homestand, but to be perfectly frank, despite the 4-1 SU record and 3-2 ATS mark on the homestand, I didn't think the Hawks played all that well. The Rockets have been struggling a bit lately, too, covering just 2 of their last 10 games, and one of those covers came in a powerhouse revenge game with the Spurs. These two teams played in November in Atlanta in a game that feature 208 points and an "over", so I would say to look at the total in this one before looking at the side. The Rockets have indeed played the Hawks tough throughout the last decade or so, so I would say to look at the Rockets here in what might look like a too-easy choice on the Hawks. Again, though, like other games on this relatively large Monday card, be very careful with the side - we may see some wacky line movement with sharps setting up middles, and taking that ability to read the line out of our arsenal makes picking a side very tough. I also think a peek at the Under is reasonable, given the hefty total of their last game, and the fact that this total is marked almost 10 full points lower.

Suns @ Jazz - Utah by 6.5 with a total of 220.5. Interestingly, this will be these teams' first meeting of the season, so we can go on situational values, for the most part. The Suns, as is well-documented, have been downright horrid on the road, winning just 1 road game in the last 2 months (roughly). Here, though, they're collecting a fair number of points. I'd be careful with the Suns, though, as they're just 1-3 ATS as a road underdog of 6.5-9 points (yeah, I took that from another site, but it's relevant), and they just don't seem to be able to step up to play the really good teams, especially on the road. The Jazz have shown an ability lately to lock down on defense, but I am concerned about backing this team off a 30+ point victory over the Nets. Will the drubbing inflate Utah's side in this one? Potentially. That's not to say the Jazz won't cover; far from it -- but it does seem to indicate that the Jazz are not a long term winning proposition in this spot, and the best bet is to avoid the side. I would have to lean Jazz in this particular meeting, but again, it's probably 50/50 long term, so handle with care. That total is exceptionally large, and my first thought is that it's that high for a reason, but at the same time, the Suns have not really been able to make buckets for 48 minutes away from home. This one could go over if Utah scores 125, but I think we see the game just barely squeeze Under.

Bobcats @ Nuggets - This line is OFF. Let's be careful, as this game looks like another potential JM play with the Bobcats opening a 5-game road trip with this tough match in the Mile High City. The Nuggets have rattled off 6 straight wins, and the return to health of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups MIGHT have had something to do with it! But now it looks like Melo might miss this one. (cue sad trumpets) They are a very tough club at home, but at the same time, they are entering marquee territory where the line is rarely going to have the value we need to make money long term. I fear that we may see Chauncey step up with another monster game in Melo's stead, but man, you guys know how I feel about injured stars. It seems like no matter which side we have in the game, it's the wrong one. Obviously, it's a lot of luck at that point, but if you're an "injury theory" bettor, you have to think about taking the Nuggets, since this line will open 2-3 points lower than it would have if Carmelo was playing. I think we'll see a total just a shade over 200, and I like the Under, since I think this becomes Billups' team with Melo out, and we know Chauncey prefers a very structured, organized style of play. I lean Denver, barely, and an Under, also barely.

Hornets @ Blazers - This line is OFF. Battle of the teams with key injuries, version two. We've covered a handful of games involving missing players, and this one is no different. The Blazers are without Brandon Roy, and the Hornets are likely without David West. So, it's Chris Paul and Andre Miller, a strong battle of the point guards, though clearly Miller has a bit more help. New Orleans continues a 5-game road trip, going 1-1 both SU and ATS thus far, and actually getting the cover in Denver on the second half of a back-to-back, a tall order, to be sure. Portland returns home off a 4-game road trip for 2 games at the Rose Garden, so we may see a little sluggishness even though this team has covered 5 of 6. What can I say? I hate to be so indecisive on so many games, but with the injuries piling up and lines getting tighter in other games, it's very important to keep our heads, make sure our wits are about us, and only play the games that offer value. This one might have just a shade of value on the home Blazers, who continue to put our quality efforts without Brandon Roy, and I think his absence will move this line a shade in Portland's favor, and afford them a slightly better opportunity to cover. Still, Chris Paul has been finding ways to get his team victories, keeping games close, just kind of hanging around, then making the key plays down the stretch. Put on the oven mitts for this one, just like a few above.

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