Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I wanted to emphasize the past tense, hence the odd capitalization of the title. Man, if the Spurs didn't do EVERYTHING in their power to ruin our day, though, hoisting meaningless 3-pointers with a 20-point lead, a classless move by San Antonio's youngsters that nearly doomed us. The Lakers, in an effort to jab back, let Andrew Bynum hoist a three as time expired, and that son of a gun rimmed out. My TV might not have been aware of the situation, but had that 3-ball dropped, it may have become one of a series of victims of my wrath.

Luckily, though, we squeezed through. I was happy to hear a few of those that joined me on that play grabbed this line at 193 or 194, so they, at least, would not have lost, but that game shouldn't have even come close to the total if not for the Spurs shooting 55% or more for almost the entire game.

Sports Wagering

Knicks @ Sixers - This line is OFF (but never fear, as per the request yesterday, I'll try to pop in and update the missing lines). This game should be interesting for a few reasons. The Sixers continue to play 24 minutes of good basketball in home games, and 24 minutes of some other sport that doesn't involve a hoop or bouncing ball. I suppose you could call this a revenge game for the Knicks, if they even remember. The night was October 31, 2009, and the Sixers and Knicks played a true Halloween thriller, with Philly prevailing, yes, 141 to 127 in overtime in New York. Not surprisingly, that game went soaring over the posted total of 206, so I'll be quite curious to see where the oddsmakers open this one, given New York has been something of an Under team over the last 45 days. The inconsistent Sixers seem to bounce back and forth between up tempo and defensive games, and I hate trying to guess on their totals. With the Knicks recent focus on defense, though, I think this one has a chance to go Under, I'm just curious how oddsmakers deal with that ridiculous first meeting back in October. In terms of the side, the Sixers are coming off a pair of wins and covers, first in Detroit, then at home over the surging Hornets. They're playing, let's call it "decent" basketball, and my guess it that these two teams are going to be ranked pretty close on the power rankings. The Knicks are coming off back-to-back road losses, so the public might be a bit disenchanted with them, but the Knicks are the "big name" team among these two. I believe the value is with New York on revenge, but I really like the way the Sixers are playing when they're focused. This one could come down to the wire, and I see Philly winning by a narrow margin.

Wizards @ Hawks - Atlanta by 11 with a total of 205. This one is an horrifying spot for the Wizards, hitting the road off last night's home loss to the spiraling Pistons. It's going to be tough to make an argument for the road team here, as Washington is in just as much disarray as any team in the League, and while all the fed probes and investigations are going on, Flip Saunders is now suspending players (I believe Andray Blatche was the first) for conduct issues. Is there any chance this team pulls themselves together for a road back-to-back? I simply can't see it. Washington is 3-6 on the second half of back-to-backs, though that really isn't any worse than their season W/L record of 12-24, so we can't glean much from that stat. Maybe more worthwhile is a peek at the Wizards' inability to score on the road. They had been able to squeeze out a few close road games so far this year, but with their options becoming more and more limited on a daily basis, Atlanta might be too tall a task. Still, though, this isn't the world's best spot for the Hawks, and I'm inclined to think this side might be a pass. Atlanta is coming off another win over the Celtics, so this is the trademark letdown spot. It's the first game of a long, long homestand that features, among others, the Suns on Thursday. I don't trust either team in this spot. The total looks spot on. The Hawks are going to score over 100 against Washington, but I don't think the Wizards break 95.

Suns @ Pacers - Phoenix by 3.5 with a total of 226.5. We've seen lines like this before. Phoenix in a close spread on the road, those home dogs certainly look tasty, then Phoenix explodes for 20 points in a 4 minute span, and you're left wondering what the hell happened. The Suns seem to have gotten progressively worse on the road as this season has progressed. I'm not sure if it's fatigue or just that teams have tape of the Suns new players and how Alvin Gentry has worked them into the system, but whatever it is, the luster is starting to come off, just a bit. Since the beginning of December, the Suns are 1-7 on the road SU after starting the season 6-3 away from home. That is a stark dropoff, and it's come without any huge injuries or other large changes. This team was also an ATS monster in November, and that has cooled off a bit, as well, so I'm not sure if now isn't perhaps the best time to load up against the Suns on the road and close your eyes for 48 basketball minutes. This game is going to have some fireworks, that's for damn sure. The Pacers play an up-tempo game as well, not as crazy as the Suns, but they can fill it up, as evidenced by both teams scoring over 100 in each of the Pacers last 3 games. It's no coincidence, either, that these high-scoring affairs (2-1 O/U) have come since Danny Granger and Troy Murphy have returned and started to get their legs underneath them. Hell, it might be 3-0 O/U if the Raptors hadn't completely tuckered out in the second half of the last one. I do like the way Indy is playing, now that they're getting healthy, and I actually believe, even at this ridiculous number, there is some value on Indy and the Over.

Celtics @ Nets - This line is OFF. At least we can probably handicap Boston in this one. Let's see: Celtics coming off a maddening loss to the Hawks, what do they do? They take out their aggression. Last time, they beat up on Toronto (covering a road -1 spread by 6 points), and now they get to roll into Jersey to tackle this Junior Varsity they call the Nets. I think it's fairly safe to say that Boston, despite having a home date with the Bulls tomorrow, will probably still want to level someone to get back at the world for its cruel, cruel scheduling. Having 2 games with the Hawks sans-Kevin Garnett just wasn't right, and you can bet the farm on Boston for the final meeting of those teams this year. In the meantime, though, I'm expecting a large spread on this one, even though the Celtics clearly are not the same without their pubic-facial-haired leader. But really, what we can say about the Nets. They're 3-34, one of the worst teams in NBA history, and are actually a better ATS bet on the road, if only because those 10 point spreads become 16, and they can muster one extra back-door cover. That will be in play on this game, but I still lean Boston without even knowing the line. The Nets are coming home off a 3-game, 3-loss road trip (2-1 ATS), and if they can even so much as wake up, I'll be surprised. I also like a potential Under, as I know Boston's defense isn't the same these days, but it's still good enough to deal with these louts. Oh, and revenge is not an angle when you're dealing with a team that never expects to win.

Clippers @ Hornets - Hornets by 5.5 with a total of 192.5. You want to talk about a weird game to handicap, how about that Clippers/Grizzlies game last night? A broken water pipe not only delivered some sewer creatures a most distressing enema, it also took the Clippers out of their rhythm, and a pathetic 4th quarter allowed Memphis a raging comeback victory. I'm curious to see how the Clippers respond. This is a team that is clearly playing better basketball, but with Chris Kaman (back) and Marcus Camby (diarrhea) both questionable, I'm not sure I can advocate a play on this one. If anything, I'd peek at the total, but two key injuries might be too much to overcome. The Hornets are in the midst of one of the strangest schedules I can remember. They've alternated 2 road games with 1 or 2 home games since December 23rd, and that pattern continues until January 18th. So far, they're 4-0 at home (2-2 ATS), and 3-3 on the road (3-3 ATS, as well). So, it seems somewhat safe to think they'll win this game, especially over the tired, undermanned Clippers, but the question is by how much. The Hornets have won their 4 recent home games by 6, 4, 4 and 4, so covering 5.5 might be asking too much. I hate the side in this game - no lean, and almost surely, no play; the only thing that's keeping it alive is the Clippers double-revenge, including one loss to the Hornets at home. The total of 192.5 is probably pretty accurate, since I think they'll have a little bit of sluggish play early, and I think the Clippers will slow down late. Maybe a slight lean to the Under.

Spurs @ Thunder - Thunder by 1 with a total of 192.5. I simply can't advocate a play on the Spurs on the tail end of a back-to-back. That being said, we might be staring down the barrel of a potential middle opportunity. The Spurs are the more marquee team, and I would imagine we'll see a nice public wave of money coming towards San Antonio tomorrow afternoon. My guess (and I may end up being wrong) on this will be that the sharps will play San Antonio early to flip favorites, or bring it to a Pick, then let the public hammer the Spurs to move it the rest of the way. Then, when this sucker hits Spurs -1.5, we'll see some money coming back the other way. I'm going to go ahead and toss 1/4-unit on the Spurs right now at -1 (this is NOT part of my premium selections, this is for entertainment and middle practice only!), and then we'll take another look at this line late tomorrow. In terms of the actual game, I definitely prefer the Thunder. Oklahoma is coming off an easy winner over the Knicks, so they're rested and ready to roll. This being the final game of a homestand, too, I'd expect a top level effort from the Thunder before hitting the road. Another stat worth taking a peek at, the Spurs are a perfectly terrible 0-6 ATS on the back end of btb's, and every single one of those games has ended in the high 170's or low 180's. That just has to make you like the Thunder and the Under (Thunder down Under?). San Antonio is 1-7 ATS against the Northwest division, and they are 1-4 as a short road underdog; none of these trends look good for the Spurs. I realize that some, if not all of these trends are due to regress, but I think at least some of them are telling. The Spurs are an older-than-average team, which explains that low scores and poor performances on btb's, and I believe the road underdog record is also partially because of that same situation. The Spurs are a road dog when they're playing back-to-backs! One note, though: Oklahoma City beat San Antonio earlier this year, in Texas. If the Spurs weren't tired, I might think more of that revenge angle, but after shooting an incredible percentage from the field against the Lakers last night, I don't foresee that happening again.

Wolves @ Rockets - Houston by 10 with a total of 203.5. Well, this is just a monster spread, considering the Rockets played last night in Charlotte, and collapsed late! I am just flabbergasted. Basically, this is a 12-point spread when both teams are rested, but here, the Rockets, now opening a 3-game homestand, are expected to cover double digits? Hmm. This line reeks, especially with the way the Rockets crumbled late. That momentum (or lack thereof) should carry over, at least a little, into the first half of this game, and if indeed Houston is going to win by 10, they aren't going to do pull away early. Make no mistake, the Rockets are a VERY good team at home (11-4 SU and ATS), but the first half of this game is a potential letdown spot because of the first game home, and the second half is a fatigue spot. I just really don't like the Rockets in this game, and my lean is to the Wolves, even though Houston has actually gone 6-4 in the second game of btbs. The total of 203.5 is interesting. The Rockets have scored the ball pretty well on the second night of btbs, averaging Over 100 ppg. The Wolves have been allowing plenty of points lately (8 straight opponents have scored over 100), but the question is whether Minnesota can score themselves. I'm inclined to think this has a decent shot to go Over the total, since Houston generally struggles with opposing centers, and Minnesota has 2 of 'em.

Lakers @ Mavs - This line is OFF. No surprise there, since the Lakers are suddenly face-to-face with a rematch against Dallas, a team they absolutely clubbed in LA, without Kobe Bryant, without Pau Gasol, and with Artest still ailing. This is not a good spot for LA. If the Mavs weren't such clunkers at home, this would be a no-brainer, but the injury issues for LA make me think that the best way to solve this game is to just pass. The Mavs are coming off an 18-point home loss to the Jazz, so they're not going to be happy, and I'm just wondering where books decide to open this line. Everyone knows where the Lakers sit, and the questions surrounding this game are enormous. Will the Lakers try to slow the game down and go into the post as much as possible, running their offense through Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest, or will they try to get out and run? Will they be able to defend the Mavs? These questions are hugely important when trying to handicap the TEMPO of this game, which could range anywhere from painstakingly slow to breakneck. I have to think the Lakers, even if they want to push the pace, won't have enough energy to do so for an entire game, with this one coming on the back-to-back. I'm inclined to lean Under, though the Mavs are really going to want to make a statement, so my biggest concern is that they go soaring over 100 points like the Spurs. This one needs more thought - let's discuss how to approach this spot once the line comes out.

Magic @ Nuggets - This line is OFF. I simply could not be happier that the Magic dominated the Kings in the 4th quarter, because it sets up perfectly for this terrible spot tonight. Teams flying east into Denver and Utah, generally coming from Pacific Division teams, tend to arrive around 2am (or later), and have only about half a day to adjust to the altitude. Flying through time zones east on back-to-backs is tough enough, but trying to handle the home-monsters in Denver's altitude makes life even tougher. Let's face it, Denver wins at home; they're 16-3 there, and most of their ATS losses have come as huge favorites. This game, fortunately for us, should be a smaller spread. I have to think that Orlando would normally be similar in power ranking to Denver, and with the back-to-back adjustment, this line will probably open near 6. I like Denver quite a bit, though the real key is going to be to make sure the Magic don't get off to a fast start. These teams on btb's often trying to blast out of the gates, then sputter late, and a 2H play on Denver might be the best value on the card. But in terms of full games, I like the high-octane, suddenly-healthy Nuggets. The Magic have put together two big wins in a row, which gives us even a tiny bit more value on Denver, and I don't know if this situation could have set itself up much better. These teams played some low-scoring games last year, so I'd lean Under, especially with their recent play (3 straight Unders for both teams). I had a strong lean to the Under in Sacramento last night, but backed off, and that would have hit, as well, as the Magic have really been clamping down on defense. Let's see what line we're working with, but I like the square Nugs and the sharp Under.

Bucks @ Blazers - Portland by 5.5 with a total of 191.5. This side looks downright silly. Portland by only 5.5? Oddsmakers have to feel that Portland is in turmoil, and this game is the "sandwich" for them, falling between the Lakers and Cavs beforehand, and the Magic afterwards. Portland is in trouble. They beat the Lakers, but this team is just spiraling. Players and coaches are yelling at each other, Andre Miller would appear to be on his way out of town, and half the roster is still in street clothes. I fear all the injuries may finally be catching up with them. Portland has lost 3 of 4, and they're a very tough team to back. Still, the high-profile loss to the Cavs in the Sunday night televised game might give us a tiny bit more value with Portland. The public saw them get exposed repeatedly on defense, and that has been the key marker in Portland's skid. They've played to 4 straight Overs, never a good sign for a team that averages among the fewest possessions per game of any team in the NBA. Portland's opponents have shot over 50% in all 3 of their recent losses, also very scary. That being said, this might be a nice little confidence-builder of a game. The Bucks are an awful-shooting team, relying heavily on jump-shots, and consistently shooting in the high-30's and low-40's in FG%. I honestly can't explain how they only lost by 4 to the Suns shooting just 38.6%, but the Bucks managed it. That sort of percentage won't cut it against the Blazers. When Portland takes a lead, they generally don't relinquish it, and I see Portland getting up by 8-10 early, and just playing cat-and-mouse with the Bucks before covering by a bucket. I also think this game has a great shot to finally go Under. The Blazers don't want these high-scoring games, but they've been playing hot offensive teams, and the Bucks are the polar opposite of that.

Heat @ Warriors - This line is OFF. I know I'm supposed to know everything, but I'm not sure why -- Dwyane Wade sprained his wrist, but he's likely to play, so I guess the books are just playing it safe. I know the Heat are coming off a horrible situational spot in Utah where they got blown the "F" out of town, and now come right back to the west coast. So far on this 6-game road trip, the Heat got a win in Phoenix, but have dropped back to back games against the Clippers and Jazz, and I just wonder if the Heat are going to get things turned around. Obviously, fading a team off a 30-point loss is a hugely dangerous move, and backing the Warriors off a 3-point loss to the Cavs (a game that killed the public bettors) is also a little dangerous. These teams have not yet met this year, so the Heat will take some time to adjust to the Warriors odd style of play. Still, if we've learned anything this week, it's that a team coming off a 30-point loss is not going to be in good spirits, and their opponent is rarely going to be excited to face them. Detroit beat the Wizards last night as dogs. Atlanta beat the Celtics earlier this week as a dog. The list goes on and on. I lean to the Heat to play their butts off after getting embarrassed. I also wonder about the total. When Miami has played good offensive teams lately, they have really stepped up their defense, and I don't expect anything different here. I obviously don't know the number, but I lean to the Under based on situational value.

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