Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Baron Davis is Dead to Me

Yesterday was one of those nights where I would have been much happier to not watch the games.

In the early play, the Pacers let the Bulls by 4-to-12 points for almost the entire game before laying down in the 4th quarter, and getting outscored by 13 in the final 12 minutes.

In the mid-evening play, the Nuggets killed the Mavs - easy winner, no discussion needed.

In the late play, the Clippers lead the Jazz by as many as 12-points early in the 3rd quarter, and getting 5.5 points as an underdog, things looked pretty good. But like the Pacers before them, the Clippers got outscored by 14 in the final quarter, and with a chance to cut the Jazz lead to just 4 with a minute to go, Baron Davis missed, I kid you not, an UNCONTESTED fast-break layup. The Jazz immediately came back with a Boozer dunk, and the deficit was 8.

As I said in the blog last night, if you sent me into the 4th quarter with all 3 of my teams covering every night, I would take that every night. We just got hit with some bad luck, and that's going to happen from time to time. I know you all put your trust in me to find the best values out there, and I hope you'll continue to ride with me despite one unlucky day. You guys know how much time and effort I will put into the card every day, but once the game tips, it's out of our control, and even a good value play only wins 55% of the time. We just happened to get 2 of the unluckiest of those 45/100 losses out of the way in the span of 4 hours.

Sports Wagering

Heat @ Hawks - Hawks by 7.5 with a total of 190.5. Good grief. Actually, I might start a few of the write-ups with that same 2-word sentence. Two teams on back-to-back; two teams coming off nice wins (Miami at home, Atlanta on the road), and two teams playing their final game before the All Star break. These teams have played twice, and each time the home team beat the pants off the other at home. Without going into too much detail on all the reasons I find this side unbettable, I just don't feel like either team has a strong advantage, situationally. Miami has been much, much worse on back-to-backs than the more athletic Hawks, but we all know how streaky the Heat can be, so they might very well put up another incredible defensive show in this one like they did last night to the Rockets. I think, based on recent perception of these teams, the Heat are getting some line value (maybe a point, 1.5 max), so I suppose you could say I have a (yes, a new name for it) "theoretical" lean to the Heat. Miami has been horrible at scoring on back-to-back, and this team knows their only chance of winning is to play solid defense. Atlanta has been slowing the tempo more lately than early this season as teams have adjusted to their style of play, and I see Atlanta winning this home game 97-89. I lean Under.

Sixers @ Raptors - Toronto by 7 with a total of 208.5. Beware the steamtrain! The 76ers have won, and covered, 4 straight games, and this last win, yesterday, was a blowout of the red-hot Timberwolves. And unfortunately, that blowout drew too much attention to the Sixers streak. The Raptors continue to play very well at home, taking advantage of a Sacramento meltdown for another home win and cover, but at the same time, Toronto has almost no line value right now. They played well for over a month, the public has caught on, and they are now a team where the situation has to be just perfect to back them. I don't believe this spot is perfect. Philadelphia is notoriously GOOD on the second half of back-to-backs, currently 8-3 ATS, and seemingly not suffering from the usual levels of fatigue. Those 2 extra points they get on the back-to-back are going right in the bank of value. Moreover, Toronto beat Philadelphia IN Philly, and because of the Sixers strength on the road, I think they most certainly keep this one close. Lean to Philly. The total, well, I just have to look at the Over - Toronto plays a quick tempo and shoots well at home, while Philly is going to a crazy-fast style.

Bucks @ Nets - This line is OFF. Is Milwaukee overvalued right now? You bet your ass they are. A lot of folks at Pregame are very sharp, as evidenced by the fact that I personally saw at least 2 or 3 guys note that the line on the Detroit game was inflated. Okay, so maybe the 12-point outright loss wasn't fully expected, but courtesy of the Bucks righteous ATS win-streak, they are no longer a value, and only worth playing, in my opinion, when they're going up against stronger competition, or teams that are more overvalued than they are. This is definitely not one of those games. The Nets are consistently getting an extra 1-2 points of line value because of the public's perception that they are terrible -- not far from the truth, really, but it does allow oddsmakers to deflate the Nets lines and still get 50/50 money on the game. We forget sometimes that the books aren't trying to "sucker" you on most games, and even the games we call "traps" only appear that way because books know they can set a line the wrong way, and the discrepancy between the size of sharp and public money will balance the books. The Nets are on double revenge here, but we've talked about how that doesn't really matter for a bad team like Jersey. This is another spot where I don't particularly like the Nets to play a strong game, but I think that when the line comes out they'll be getting more points than they should - lean to Jersey, and while the Nets are starting to play a little faster, and Milwaukee is going to play some poorer than average defense on the back-to-back, I think I lean Over.

Kings @ Pistons - Detroit by 3.5 with a total of 197.5. Strong effort from the Pistons in Milwaukee; strong effort from the Kings in New York. These are two underrated teams butting heads in their final game before the break, and honestly, there's no good way to look at this one. The real important note here is that due to the Kings going to OT at Madison Square Garden, this line will likely jump to 4.5 or 5, SO, while I don't have a lean to either side, feel free to look at a middle. Detroit -3.5 now, Sacramento plus the points later? It's worth a look. That total looks pretty high for a Pistons game, but I think oddsmakers have elevated it slightly with both teams likely tired and less likely to be focused on defense. I don't know if that's true. The Kings are terrible offensively on the road and worse on back-to-backs, and the Pistons would want to slow it down MORE if they're feeling sleepy. I actually lean Under, believe it or not. I know guys, that was the world's shortest write-up, so feel free to add to it with your own notes, but being that this card is immense, I figure, why waste time and energy on a game that I have almost no chance of legitimately picking a side? Check out that middle.

Magic @ Bulls - Orlando by 4 with a total of 193. This line strikes me as odd. I know the Bulls have come on strong, but given Chicago is the team here on the back-to-back, oddsmakers are trying to tell me that Orlando would be a TWO point favorite in Chicago without the Bulls playing last night? That seems way too simple. It's not like a Chicago win would surprise that many folks. The Bulls beat the Magic the last time Orlando came to town, winning outright as a 3.5-point underdog. I just wonder, though, if we're giving the public too much credit, and their short term memory is going to take over. The Bulls are just 4-8 ATS on back-to-back spots, so I'm not really sure why this line is seemingly begging us to take Orlando. The Magic have been winning games but failing to cover, and by setting this line nice and low, it indicates to me that oddsmakers think this one is going down to the wire. The match-ups are just a disaster for Chicago, especially with their team all banged up, and I hate to be mister square here, since I would love to take a home dog, but I lean Orlando. The total is pretty accurate, I feel, though I feel like Chicago is going to try to push the ball a little, and get into their offense before Dwight Howard can set his roots in the paint. Still, both teams pride themselves on defense, and they're going to want to flex some muscle - I lean Under.

Celtics @ Hornets - This line is OFF. I would assume this is the case because of Paul Pierce potentially returning, but time will tell. The true issue here is that Boston has been a mess lately. They've lost 3 straight ATS, and though they did win 3 straight games SU before the loss to Orlando on Sunday, Boston is just 1-9 ATS this year when following an upset loss as a favorite. I suppose we'll see if that holds up here. I prefer to back the Hornets on the road without Chris Paul, since they're getting that 6-point swing. And for the record, I wrote that sentence BEFORE looking up the following stat: the Hornets have covered their last 6 road games, but have failed to cover their last 6 home games. Conversely, the road is really the only I'm willing to back the Celtics for the same reason. They have found a way to win against the weaker teams, but covering the large home spreads has become almost impossible. I also feel that the loss the Hornets suffered to Orlando might carry over into this game. They played their butts off for almost every moment of that game, and just could not quite overcome Vince Carter's best game since 2006 and strong performances from Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis. It can be pretty frustrating for a team to lead the entire game, then get run off the floor late. I believe the Celtics are going to want to grab this game going into the All Star Break, and while I do believe the spread is going to favor Boston by 2-4 points, I actually believe they can cover it, since I just don't see the Hornets putting together another performance as strong as the ones in Charlotte and Orlando. I lean Boston, and I lean to the Under, since folks are going to see that colossal Hornets total from the last game, and we're going to get a few points of line value on the Under.

Bobcats @ Timberwolves - Charlotte by 2.5 with a total of 200. Timberwolves got spanked last night, there's no way around it. I tend to like fading teams off a loss that snaps a win streak, as I feel like maybe that crushing defeat in Philadelphia might derail the Wolves just a little, but at the same time, the Wolves are still the line value play. The Bobcats (1-5 ATS against the Northwest) are no longer an underappreciated team, and that makes them a tougher play. They squeezed out a SU win last night against Washington, but lost their 3rd of 4 against the spread. I'm just not sure Charlotte is a team we can trust right now, especially going into the All Star break; but on the flip side, I don't like the Wolves as a "bounceback" team. They're very young, looking forward to some time off, and coming off an ugly game in Philly. I don't like a side in this one, but I do like the Over. Minnesota is going nuts with the pace, and the Bobcats are going to be too tired and too focused on the week off to worry about stopping anyone. We saw last night how Minnesota got killed by the Sixers, but still managed to get into a running match. If they scored the ball, that game would have gone over by 25. At home, I think Minnesota hits those jumpers again, and I think this one ends with a final total of 203.

Lakers @ Jazz - This line is OFF. I hope Kobe plays. This is going to be a damn fine game if he does. Might be fun even if he doesn't, but you know those Jazz fans are ready to go nuts for a Lakers game. I'm not sure it's a great game to bet on, as both teams have won the home meeting this year, and the Lakers role-players might start to run out of steam, but it should be a great show. The Lakers have been impressive without their star, winning with very strong defensive efforts in Portland and then at home against the Spurs, but this is going to be a brand new kind of task. The Jazz had to play their butts off against the Clippers last night to get the cover, but this team has a rare and unique style of play and tired or not, they are a brutal match-up. They've now won 9 straight, and none of those wins by fewer than 7 points. I think the early value here is going to continue to be on the Lakers, at least until we hear about Kobe. Utah is in a tough spot, and while the home crowd will fuel them, they should be a tad tired, and I just wonder how the adrenaline is going to work for Utah. I have to believe they come out strong, as most teams do against the Lakers, but will they wane as the game goes on? Utah is a strong 6-2 ATS on back-to-backs, so I think the Jazz system should keep them right there for a win all night long. Still, because I believe the line will come out soft, I lean Lakers, who should be getting a couple points. I have no idea what the total is going to be. The Lakers have been playing such strong defense without Kobe, but will Utah's up-tempo style change this game around?

Blazers @ Suns - Phoenix by 8 with a total of 210.5. This one might be accurate, and feels like a huge mismatch. The Suns are storming right now, playing with confidence and playing with a sense of purpose on every possession. They are also playing on 4 days of rest, so those tired old legs of Grant Hill will be ready for a strong performance. On the other side, the Blazers have to travel a good distance for the second half of a back-to-back, and while Portland is 9-3 ATS in back-to-backs, this team looks decidedly tired right now, getting steamrolled by the Kobe-less Lakers, and then last night got severely outplayed by Oklahoma City in the 4th quarter. It seems like there's a bit of a book on how to guard this team with Roy out, and clubs are really forcing the Blazers to beat them with a ton of jumpshots. I just don't know if Portland can keep up for all 4 quarters with this lineup. Their defense isn't what it used to be with all the big men out, and they don't have a go-to guy on offense. I mean, I realize it's another square lean, but I just have to look at Phoenix here. The total here feels a little high, given Phoenix is actually playing some minor defense, so I lean Under. I know, Phoenix and Under, it almost seems like heresy, but hey, that's how it is.

Clippers @ Warriors - This line is OFF. I'm having trouble looking at the Clippers right now after Baron Davis ruined a cover for us last night, but hey, they're playing, so we need to break it down. Even if this game could be the ugliest on the card, and there are some ugly ones. I'm not really sure why someone would want to bet this game, though. The Clippers have been terrible on the road, and the Warriors have been terrible everywhere, clearly tiring as the huge minutes for their top 3-4 guys is starting to catch up with them. If anything, you're looking at a great opportunity to drop some money on another Stephen Curry prop bet, since he's the last man standing in injury-town. This is a revenge game for the Warriors from when the Clippers beat them senseless here in Oakland back in November, but the hapless Warriors are another of those teams where revenge isn't a real issue, not with only a few healthy bodies, and only 1 worth playing. You couldn't pay me to pick a side in this mess. I do think there should be some value on the Under, as the Warriors continue to tire late, and the Clippers are going to be suffering after blowing the game against the Jazz. I know often fatigue leads to bad defense, but for a team like the Clippers that operates in the post a lot and doesn't do much on defense anyway, I think they might suffer shooting the ball more than defending. I lean Under.

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