Friday, February 19, 2010

Blatche For Governor

Paging the Portland Trailblazers.

Hello?

Are you there?

Man, talk about a disappointment. I feel somewhat comforted by the fact that a good number of VERY SMART handicappers were loving the Blazers right alongside me, but I am indeed left scratching my head a little bit at how poorly the Blazers played. And when they finally had a shot to get back in the game, down by 9 early in the 4th quarter, back-to-back charging calls (only one of which was actually a charge) derailed the Blazers' feeble comeback effort.

But as I noted in the blog late last night, we did pick up a Free Premium win with the Washington Wizards. It was the smaller of the two plays, so we did suffer some minor losses yesterday, but considering the brutal days that a ton of cappers had out there, the fact that we only took a tiny hit was easily the silver lining of the night. Obviously, I don't want to minimize a loss (or a win), but it's always important to take note of where we stand long term, and over the course of the week, the month, the season, we're still picking up wins and units.

Administrative note: I am going to go back to putting the blog out in the mornings. I haven't been getting to sleep until 3am lately, and given that moderator/audio-tech/podcast duties have me up relatively early anyway, and I'm spending almost no time with the gal that's about to become my wife, I need to shift some of my hours of heavy lifting to the morning. Plays will continue to be posted in the early afternoon eastern time, so no change there, but those of you who wait up at night for the blog will get, at most, a partial blog. I hope this makes sense, and I honestly believe it will actually IMPROVE the quality of the blog even more, since I won't be pressed for time, trying to get to sleep before the sun starts to rise. Thank you all for understanding.

Sports Wagering

Wizards @ Raptors - This line is OFF. Two teams off nice wins squaring off on the second night of a back-to-back, and we're not getting a line because of Chris Bosh's health. This is a bad spot for both teams, as Washington's youngsters are finding this opportunity to show their stuff and try to earn longer term starting positions, while the Raptors had the one-game surge with their superstar out, now have to try to play a back-to-back, still without Bosh, I would imagine. Time will tell on the injury front. Still, this is a game without a clear edge on the side, and both teams won one game against the other earlier this year (both winning on the road, interestingly). Also, while Toronto has been pretty awful on back-to-backs this year, they've been decent when the second game occurs at home. Washington's stats from earlier this year can be dumped entirely with their new roster in play, as well. I just don't like the side at all in this one. I think we might find some value in a potential Over play here, if indeed both teams suffer defensively. My concern on the total is that Washington just won't find a guy that can score. They're so young and inexperienced, I fear they may not show up on the road, but is there really much of a home court edge when they have no fans at home?

Thunder @ Knicks - Oklahoma City by 6 with a total of 202.5. This is an awfully difficult game to handicap, as, from a value standpoint, this one is a total mismatch. The Thunder have won 7 consecutive games, covering 6, while the Knicks have lost 5 in a row, and 8 of 9, and have covered in just 2 of those 9 games. Clearly, the value is with the Knicks, as this line indicates the Thunder are a 9-point favorite on a neutral court, and even a few weeks ago that would not have been the case. There aren't many good basketball reasons to back the Knicks, though, as they lost by 18 to the Thunder back in early January, and while it IS a revenge game for New York, they are just playing terrible basketball right now, unable to score consistently while giving up over 100 points on almost a nightly basis. New York is also going to have some new pieces, courtesy of a somewhat busy trade deadline. As we've seen, backing teams the first game after a trade has been a very bad idea. The Cavs lost with their new cats last night; the Mavs lost their first game with Butler and Haywood coming out of the break; Portland dropped their game with Boston, and the new players just have not been fitting in well. Maybe the additions, or subtractions, or whatever you want to call the situation in New York, will work out, but in this first game, I have to avoid the side. I love the Over, though, as this total is set well higher than the mark in the previous matchup, which went under. It has that oddsmaker hint feel to it.

Sixers @ Bulls - Chicago by 5 with a total of 193.5. Two more teams coming off wins last night, the Bulls on the road in Minnesota and the Sixers at home against the Spurs. Two teams playing better basketball now than, perhaps, at any point this year. The Bulls have covered all 3 games since the All Star Break, and 5 of their last 6 overall. The Sixers had lost and failed to cover 2 in a row, but their win over San Antonio actually gives them 6 wins in 8 games, and 5 in 7 covers. I suppose the key comparison that needs to be made in this game is between the success of the two teams on back-to-backs, and the Bulls' revenge factor. These teams faced off in Philadelphia shortly before the All Star Break, and the Sixers beat the Bulls by 3 in overtime. You have to believe Chicago is going to want to make a strong impression. On the flip side, the Bulls have been a pretty bad 5-9 ATS in back-to-back situations, including getting killed by Orlando in their last game before the Break. Still, they beat New York in a back-to-back just a couple days ago. The question becomes, then, can the Bulls muster any strength in this 4th game in 5 nights? They have played almost every day since teams returned from the layoff, playing on Tuesday, Wednesday, yesterday and now today. They've won the first 3 games. Philly has been very good on back-to-backs, going 8-4 ATS, and they're not playing a 4th in 5 nights. I suppose with all this weighed out, Philly's excellent back-to-back play and bonus energy outweighs the Bulls' revenge. I lean Philadelphia, and Under.

Heat @ Mavericks - This line is OFF. Will Dwyane Wade play? I hate to say it, but if he's out, that immediately swings me over to Dallas. We saw Miami step up and play one of their best team efforts all season with a key road win over the Memphis Grizzlies in 2OT, but those reserves that stepped up are going to be absolutely tuckered out. Unfortunately, oddsmakers know that too, and this line is going to open higher than most would figure. Still, Dallas looks like a changed team. They got that home win over Phoenix a few days back, and followed that up with a splendid road win over Orlando last night. I also believe that the Mavs' 6-19 ATS mark at home is bound to start evening out. I know that's not the most clever or in-depth way to look at it, but a HUGE ATS edge in one direction on something like that is bound to make its way back towards the mean at some point. And with the Mavs new players making an immediate impact, you just have to like their chances to take it to the Wade-less Heat. Miami's back-to-back numbers are irrelevant with their superstar out; Dallas is a palatable 6-8 ATS on back-to-backs, but again, with the new guys in town and the team playing with confidence, they just might have the gusto to put together another decent game. I lean Mavs on the side, and I think we'll get a little value with the Over, since both teams will be tired, and the good defense the Heat have been playing should lead to Over line value. Doesn't mean it's a play, that's just the way the line should open.

Pacers @ Rockets - Houston by 8 with a total of 205. That's a lot of points for the Rockets to be laying, but I suppose given the Pacers are on a back-to-back, and coming off a loss in New Orleans last night, this does make sense. Indiana has been playing very, very poorly of late, but the Rockets, for the life of me, I just can't figure out! They won in Memphis before the Break, lost at home to Philly, got slaughtered in Miami, returned from the Break and got out-classed by the Jazz before beating the crap out of Milwaukee 3 days ago. Now, they host the Pacers. Which Rockets team will we see? Well, we know Houston tends to struggle with big men, but the bottom line is that if they're making shots, they're tough. The Rockets did just make a trade to bring in a strong shooting guard in Kevin Martin, and I must offer a word of caution to bettors assuming the new guy is going to jump in and make a splash. We've seen almost every team that picked up new players lose the first game with those guys. I'm not saying taking 8 points with the hapless Pacers is the way to go, but I do think the Rockets will have some slight chemistry issues, and I am indeed suggesting that if you're going to lean on this game, you simply must lean to the Pacers and the Under. As far as Indiana is concerned, they've lost 3 in a row and 6 of 8, and they have been, for most of the year, a pretty bad ATS wager at 23-30. So, really, you need a ton of good reasons to back them, I just feel they lose this game by 3-6 points, and hence the lean.

Bobcats @ Bucks - Milwaukee by 2.5 with a total of 189. Two MORE teams off wins yesterday. The Bobcats got a monster win over the tired Cavaliers, taking advantage of a clear letdown spot for Cleveland off the 13-game winning streak, and the Bobcats desperately needed a strong game to snap a little ATS skid of their own. These teams played way back in late December and the Bobcats won that home game by 10, so this is technically a revenge spot for the Bucks, but I think the most important note here is how these teams perform in tired spots. The Bobcats are a very impressive 10-4 ATS in back-to-backs, and given their youth, that shouldn't surprise anyone. They play strong defense, and that is going to keep you in most games. If you have the energy to defend, you're going to be a great value on back-to-backs, since normally that team would be collecting 2 extra points in the line. Here, though, because Milwaukee is on back-to-back as well, nobody is getting any bonus points. The Bucks are 10-3 ATS! This is quite the pickle. Two very solid back-to-back teams, one, the Bobcats, that trends to the Over in those spots (8-5), and one, the Bucks, that trends to the Under (5-8). I can't help but think that this game is almost value free. No leans.

Kings @ Clippers - This line is OFF. This one features two bad teams that shipped off players and picked up scrap heap materials. So, once again, we'd love to be able to fade the team with the new players, but both stinker teams are dealing with the same issues. I mean, man. In terms of recent NBA cards, this one has to have the most match-ups that just leave me uninspired and annoyed. Here, the freefalling Clippers, who have lost 6 in a row SU and 5 in a row ATS, and who probably have some tiny amounts of value just because they're playing at home, take on the Kings, who covered 3 in a row before getting throttled by Golden State. Based on the way I tend to like teams coming off a huge loss, I think Sactown may have regarnered the line value. Maybe it's the late night talking, but the ugliness Sacramento showed in that game with the Warriors is awfully tough to forget. Still, the Clippers look like they might be mailing it in for the remainder of the season. Just based on the fact that in their most recent 5 losses they've fallen by double digits, it's tough to really see the Clippers snapping out of it. Maybe the Kings are just what the doctor ordered, but based on the fact that Sacramento appears to be playing with more pride, and actually seems to be better without Kevin Martin, I have to lean Kings. I also like the Over, as the Clippers defense has been downright terrible of late (allowing over 100 points in 4 straight), and the Kings are an "over" team, as well.

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