Sunday, January 31, 2010

Push You Around

Boy, with even a smidgen of luck, we would have had a 2-0 sweep on Sunday. Instead, we had to watch helplessly as the Magic made 4 straight free throws down the stretch to turn a 4-point cover into one of the worst "pushes" a man can stomach, and while we are still boasting a decidedly winning 1-0-1 record for the day, that game felt like it was taken away from us. It's not right of me to complain about a push, but you guys know me -- I'm a perfectionist at heart, and I go into every game expecting it to be a winner, even though we all know that's insane.

Whatever the case, we're still straight up rolling! Paid Plays are now 8-4-1 over the last 13, and the Lakers-Celtics Under pushed our Free Premium run to 8-4, as well! The 16-8 combined NBA run is nothing to scoff at, and we continue to produce winners on a daily basis. The weekend saw us fire off a 4-0-1 record, a great way to bounce back after the Thursday TNT debacle last week.

So, we move forward, and while less than half the games have lines, I already see a few situational spots I like quite a bit.

Sports Wagering

Celtics @ Wizards - Washington collecting 5.5 at home with a total of 191. Oh me, oh my. This one looks awfully tempting; let's see if the angles back the infamous home 5.5-point dog. At first glance, I would say they do, though the angles aren't terribly numerous. I'll try to break the game down in order of importance. The biggest issue in this one is the back-to-back. Boston has not played well on back-to-back games, as their old, tired legs have led to a 2-7 ATS record in the second half of such situations. This wouldn't be interesting, except that we know how good Boston is as a team (29-15 SU), but they're just 4-5 SU on the second half of back-to-backs, as well. That combination of numbers would seem to indicate that the Celtics are, in fact, effected by the schedule, and what's more, this will actually be their 4th game in 5 nights - not at all a good spot for them. If Boston can hold it together for 2 quarters, it will be a triumph. The next most important angle is the letdown. Boston, as many of you saw on ABC, gave up a 4th quarter lead to the Lakers, and were buried by a Kobe Bryant contested fall-away jumper with 7 seconds left. That looked awfully similar to the way Boston lost in Orlando a few days back, and they proceeded to get spanked in Atlanta the next night. I'm not arguing Washington is going to be doing any spanking (unless Boston's into that sort of thing, hah), but I definitely feel the Celtics emanating pain and despair. The third point, amazingly, is revenge, though for the Wizards, it's tough to argue that they are somehow "mad" at the Celtics. I think Sac made a better point in the forum that it's more about "retooling" and having another crack at a team that beat you earlier. So, we have the Wizards, who have been gameplanning for this contest, and the Celtics, who spent their recent games dealing with the Magic, Hawks and Lakers, and I would imagine, have gameplanned for the Wizards about as long as their practice hours are this coming afternoon. The Wizards, by the way, have won 2 in a row, so they're playing decent basketball, at least as far as "decent" goes. I lean to Washington; no lean on the total.

Bucks @ Heat - This line is OFF. This game is the second half of a Heat/Bucks home-and-home, with Milwaukee taking the game in Wisconsin 2 days ago, 95-84, easily covering the spread of 4 in a game that really wasn't that close from the midpoint of the 2nd quarter. It looked like Miami hadn't come to play, and by the time they decided to compete, Milwaukee was out ahead by 15 and had it on cruise control. Now, Miami gets a chance to avenge that rather lackluster performance by trying to drop the surging Bucks at home. I'm curious to see where this line opens up. The Heat were 4-point dogs on the second night of a back-to-back in the last one, so you'd figure if we drop 2 points out and rotate home court, Miami should be favored by 4. I would imagine the line will open up close to 4 or 4.5, and potentially move up a tick. Besides the revenge, though, this doesn't actually look like that great of a Heat wager. Still, these home-and-home situations are like their own special island in the middle of the NBA season. The Bucks have covered 7 games in a row, but that almost doesn't matter here, beyond the fact that they're making shots. The Heat have been a poor ATS team at home, but that, too, seems less important than usual because they are going to show they deserve to at least split 2 games with the Bucks. I think it's also important to note that because Miami was on that back-to-back in Milwaukee, they were inclined to play lackadaisical ball. Here, they're rested, and I expect a strong game from Miami; I lean Heat. The last game involved a total of 179, well beneath the 190 that was set. Let's react to this total when it comes out, because I think we might get some information just by looking at the line.

Lakers @ Grizzlies - Lakers by 2 with a total of 206.5. One more time, I'd like a ticket to Letdown City, please? I think there may be the misconception that the Lakers are just going to roll into town feeling damn good about themselves after that win in Boston and topple the Grizzlies, but I'm of the exact opposite school of thought. The Lakers have now won 4 in a row, and they, I'm sure, are looking pretty snazzy to the average bettor after the nationally televised win on Sunday afternoon. The Grizzlies probably don't look that snazzy, and really, it's amazing how quickly the public can forget. The Grizzlies covered 6 of 7 games before losing in San Antonio, and then at home to the Hornets, so suddenly the Grizzlies have gone from hero to zero. The Lakers have been just fine on back-to-back games, so that's not an issue here - LA is 9-3 SU (6-6 ATS), so we can throw that angle out the window. The more important one here is revenge. I think it's interesting how this revenge angle compares to the one we mentioned above in the Wizards game. In that one, we talked about how the Wizards don't expect to win, so it's really more of a "modified attack" game; this one, though, is more traditional revenge. The Grizzlies are an up-and-coming team, really enjoying the season and at 25-21 are in the thick of the Western Conference hunt. They came to LA, though, and got trounced by 16, and I believe this is a team that wants to show the "big dog" that they're good enough to compete. I also like that the Lakers are on the last game of a road trip, so at least, let's say, 15% of the team is probably going to be looking ahead to getting home and seeing children, their flat screen TVs, etc. I lean Memphis. I also think we might see some points scored in this one if the Grizzlies dictate the tempo - that being said, Memphis has seemed content lately to play a more defensive game. I actually lean to the Under, since the obvious choice here is to expect fireworks.

Suns @ Hornets - This line is OFF. Stupid Chris Paul is costing us a shot at a middle right now. The Suns playing an overtime game with the Rockets will likely move this line another point in favor of the Hornets, but without a line to begin with, this one is going to look awfully juicy for Suns-backers. And it may very well be just that succulent. If Chris Paul is forced to miss another game, I'm just not sure that we'll see another career night from Darren Collison, and we all know how poor the Hornets are at covering home favorite spreads. Since we really are going to be basing our views of this game largely on the presence (or lack thereof) of Chris Paul, it's tough to fully handicap it, but a few notes are worth mentioning. The Suns appear to be building momentum. The big question off the TNT Thursday win over Dallas was whether Phoenix would regress or come out strong in the next game, and we saw clearly that they're playing with a ton of heart with this overtime win in Houston. Obviously, there are going to be some tired legs with multiple Suns logging over 40 minutes, but I just don't trust the Hornets at home to cover what's sure to be a spread of ample size (if CP3 plays). The Hornets are a robust 16-5 SU at home, but 10-11 ATS; they are 15-6 SU as a favorite (7-14 ATS), and 11-4 SU as a home favorite (5-10 ATS). This team is a disaster as a home fave; they play close games almost every night, making them a wonderful dog (16-10 ATS), but a team that just cannot be trusted to put anyone away, at least no one with the firepower of the Suns. Plus, Amare Stoudemire fouled out of the game with Houston, so he won't be quite as fatigued as the others. These teams have split two previous meetings, with each club winning the home affair, and covering, but despite that, I lean to Phoenix on the side. The totals in the two prior meetings were 128 and 113. Let's see where this one opens up, and we'll take it from there.

Kings @ Nuggets - This line is OFF. The Nuggets return home off a fine road performance in San Antonio in the Sunday morning ABC game. I guess we know which team wakes up faster between those two. Now, we get to see if the Kings can ever get things straightened out. The Kings are tanking at an alarming rate; I mean, we're talking very, very ugly. The Kings went 2-13 in the month of January SU, and 3-11-1 ATS, so it has been an epic tailspin, and I just can't tell if we've hit rock bottom. It almost doesn't matter, and this may come as something of a surprise, but this is a double-revenge spot for the Nugs, who have lost twice to the Kings in Sacramento, with both games going Under. Now, Denver gets their chance to push the tempo and blow Sacramento out of the building. The real question in this game is whether Carmelo Anthony will play, because if so, this line might be pretty huge. I almost hope he doesn't play so we can deal with a line closer, to, say 10, instead of 12-14. Bottom line here is that I don't trust the Kings. They have lost every single road game thus far in 2010, and even if they manage to keep it close with Denver for a few minutes in this one, there's such a slim hope that they can compete for all 48 minutes. Denver is going to be on a back-to-back, which actually should work to our advantage, since we'll get a nice little 2-point line drop. I'm very interested in where this line opens up, as I lean just a bit to Denver, and I think there may be some value, once again, in the Under, since the Kings can't seem to score. They've played to 4 unders and push in their last 5, and I think Denver's involvement in this game should inflate the total just a hair.

Mavericks @ Jazz - This line is OFF. Will Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer play? Deron Williams is a "maybe", and Boozer is likely out. I certainly think Paul Millsap is about as capable a replacement as you can find, but another game with Ronnie Price running the point might start to take a little toll on Utah. The Jazz have been playing dominant basketball, winning 9 of 10 games, straight up, and going 9-1-2 ATS in their last 12, so this is not a team to be taken lightly. I do think, though, that they may be hitting that point where the team is starting to become overvalued against the line, and we can anticipate a few failed covers of large home spreads in the not-so-distant future. Hell, we might have seen the start of it with their home win over Sacramento, but failed cover. Now, they welcome one of the better road teams in the NBA, but a slumping version of the Mavs. Dallas's defense has been horrible lately, allowing over 100 points in 3 straight games, while playing to 4 straight Overs, and going 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games. I believe the most important angle in this game is revenge. Dallas beat Utah in the first meeting this year, but Utah came back to Dallas 3 weeks ago and creamed the Mavs by 18 as a 5.5-point dog. Dallas is going to want to go into Utah and get a win, or at the very least, we can expect a solid full-game effort. Despite the recent cold stretch, the Mavs are still 15-10 ATS on the road, so they can certainly compete, and if they're getting a few points in this one, I'm inclined to lean Mavericks. If the Jazz are healthy with Deron, I like the Over thanks to Dallas's awful defense this month, but if there are players missing, I might just dodge this total (and maybe the side, too) altogether.

Bobcats @ Blazers - This line is OFF. I guess Brandon Roy has been upgraded from "out" to "questionable", though he wasn't supposed to return until the middle of the week. I guess time will tell. Assuming Roy is still out, this is a nice spot for the surging Bobcats. Charlotte lost the opener of their current 6-game road trip in Denver, but have since responded with 3 straight wins in Phoenix, Golden State and Sacramento. Now, they continue on their sweeping trip across the Pacific with this contest at the Rose Garden. This, guys, is one of those games where I think it's important to just try to simplify things. Sure, the Blazers actually beat the Bobcats in Charlotte earlier this year, so there is some revenge mixed into this little ATS cocktail, but for the most part, I think we're looking at a team where you just want to stay out of their way until they lose. So, either we like Charlotte or nothing. The Bobcats do play the Lakers on Wednesday, but I'm not sure this is a traditional look-ahead spot, since Charlotte is in a zone right now, focused on each and every game and working toward moving up in the Eastern playoff standings. I just love their recent ability to lock down on high-scoring, zero-defense teams, and I'd be willing to wager they have a decent gameplan for this one, as they certainly have game tape from the November meeting to work off. I lean Bobcats. On the total, well, this could be interesting. The last game featured 154 points, 17 under the posted mark of 171, but I actually think we'll see this one open up a bit higher than 171. The Bobcats have played to 5 overs and a push in their last 6, and the Blazers are on a streak of 6 consecutive overs. Another situation, I think, where we should just ride the wave and look at the Over, unless the line is so absurd or the movement so severe that we need to turn our heads.

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