Sunday, February 21, 2010

ESPN Meltdowns

I know sometimes it can be entertaining, but when it comes right down to it, I'm not a fan of close calls. I like going without stress, so last night's Warriors-Hawks Over bet might have increased my number of gray hairs by about, let's say, 4.

That game was truly a coin-flip, and I never want to get on those plays, since a 50/50 game is a losing long-term proposition, but last night we got the Push (and many folks got the win, as the total moved back up to 212.5 closer to game time). Moving into today, let's try to find another easy one like the previous few.

As far as records go, we are 6-2-1 since the All Star Break, a great first week back for our plays, and 19-12-2 and 31-20-2 over our last 33 and 53 plays, respectively. Not bad, I'd say. Not bad at all.

Sports Wagering

Bulls @ Wizards - Chicago by 2 with a total of 199.5. Woah, wait just a darn minute. Either Chicago is still getting no respect, or Washington is suddenly relevant overnight. I'm looking very hard at this game to try to find a reason why Washington is only getting 2 points, and I'm just not sure I can figure it out. Sure, the Wizards have covered 5 in a row, and fairly quietly, might I add, considering they're doing it with all sorts of odd pieces wedged together to form a team, but they're still a club that's just not going to get any love from the public. The Bulls have covered 4 straight and 6 of 7, and they are truly playing some outstanding basketball. They've been playing lights-out defense, but also finding a way to score, and really impressing me in the process. So, why is Washington such a small home dog? These teams played on the 15th of January, and Chicago barely squeezed by the Wizards with a 121-119 home win (there were some overtimes there, mind you). I suppose there's some revenge there for the Wizards, but most of these guys didn't even log minutes for Washington in that game. I just can't quite put the pieces together on this side. Chicago isn't in a look-ahead spot or letdown, as they're coming off an easy home win over Philadelphia, and host Indiana at home on Wednesday. They've been clicking on offense, and have improved their defense to rest now among the League's top few teams (in terms of opponents FG%). I am truly, desperately, trying to find a reason why Washington seems to be getting so few points, and I'm struggling. I don't have a real lean on the side as a result, though I like how Derrick Rose is pushing the ball a bit more, and think we might get a little edge with the Over.

Bucks @ Knicks - New York by 1 with a total of 206.5. Milwaukee has been eating New York alive this year. They beat the Knicks by 15 at home, and by 7 on a road. So, the question is, is this a double-revenge spot or is this a situation where the Bucks just dominate New York? I have to admit, I've fallen into traps here in both directions, so it's extremely important to analyze the line and figure out if we're getting value by betting New York, due to their desire to man up and take it to Milwaukee, or if the line has been preadjusted, and the value is with the Bucks, since maybe they shouldn't be getting a point against a team they've bopped twice already this year. The most recent meeting was only a couple weeks ago, a game that Milwaukee put up 114 points in a victory, and sent the total over the mark by 20 points. This line has been adjusted, to a certain degree, so I'm not sure we're getting any special information on the total from the oddsmakers. I'm a little concerned that the Knicks have a game in Boston tomorrow, and might be thinking about taking down one of the East's elite, and as a result, I would tread very cautiously with this one. Considering New York has only won 1 game straight up since January 28, it's interesting to see them favored by a point against a team that has clocked them twice, but here we are. I have a slight lean to Milwaukee to continue their surge, and I think the Knicks miserable defense continues to be front and center; slight lean to the Over.

Pacers @ Mavericks - Dallas by 9.5 with a total of 207. Alright Dallas, who are you, exactly, with your new players? Are you the team that got creamed in Oklahoma City? Are you the team that won (and covered) against Phoenix and on the road in Orlando? Are you the team that wins at home, but doesn't cover, like that game with Miami? I really would like to know. Are you a team that is going to be looking ahead to Wednesday, when the Lakers come to town? There are an absolute ton of questions on the Dallas side, and truthfully, not that many about the Pacers. Indiana is just not a good team, but they have a knack for getting hot for 2-3 games, then, like herpes, they go into remission. It seems like, if indeed the Pacers are warming up, they might make life tough for Dallas. Indiana has had a way of disappointing this season, but as this large of an underdog, they merely have to compete to cover. Dallas has not shown any sort of killer instinct all season long, and a few stats to back that might be: 6-20 ATS at home, 0-5 ATS as a home favorite of 9.5-to-12 points, and 8-13 ATS against losing teams. I like how Dallas is starting to play some defense again with Haywood in the paint, but I still don't trust this team to cover large spreads, especially against a team that can get hot, and could essentially lead this game into the 4th. I lean Indiana, and I lean Under.

Hawks @ Jazz - Utah by 6 with a total of 198. Well, this one has the makings of a very strange game. The Jazz, instead of the Hawks, are the team coming off the ultra-late game on the West coast, and the Hawks are the club coming into the altitude off a disappointing loss in Golden State. Atlanta led that game by 18 at one point before Stephen Curry led a monster Warrior surge, and helped Golden State pick up a rare win with an incredible 4th quarter. The Hawks-Warriors game, though, was at 5pm pacific time, so they didn't get into Utah's altitude as late as most teams do, coming from the West, and I'm not sure if they're a nearly automatic fade like most clubs. They are also coming off that loss, so we have to try to read public opinion on this team to see if public bettors expect the Hawks to bounce back or continue to tumble for one more night. The Jazz are coming off a ridiculously ugly game with Portland, both teams shooting under 40% for the bulk of the night, and fighting their asses off to come back from a 25-point deficit, force OT, and result be damned, completely exhaust themselves. As a result, can we really expect Utah to come out with that same home intensity as usual in the 3rd quarter? I'm not sure we can. This is a very tough spot to back either team, and while the altitude issue makes me want to play the Jazz, Utah's own fatigue makes me want nothing to do with it. I believe an early play on the Hawks could set up a middle, just based on energy alone, and I honestly have no idea what to do with the total. Neither team is going to play much defense as tired as they are, but will they make any jump-shots with those gelatin legs? I suppose I expect this one to creep Over the total, but not by much.

Bobcats @ Clippers - This line is OFF. Will the Clippers ever actually try hard again? Sure, this team got a win over the Kings at home in their last game, but that was coming off 6 straight blowout losses. Yes, there are some new pieces, as the Clippers went on a bit of a firesale of any contract they could unload, so it's going to take time for these pieces to learn how to play together, but man if it doesn't make me ill just thinking about trying to back them. I know from a line value perspective, the Clippers have a ton, but they're simply so bad, that I'm not sure it matters. Charlotte has covered the last 5 games they've played against the Clippers at Staples (a stadium where this team is clearly pretty comfortable), and if indeed Baron Davis is out again, where are the Clippers going to get their offense? They were able to put up 99 points against the Kings because Sacramento plays about as much defense as an intramural squad, but the Bobcats are solid on D. They lost on a back-to-back in Milwaukee, which I believe creates just a hair of additional value on them, or maybe the more accurate statement is that it diminishes the line value the Clips have, courtesy of their awful play. I guess what I'm saying is that the Baron Davis injury situation does indeed play a role in my leans on this game. If he stays out, which I think he might, given how little the Clippers have to play for, I lean Charlotte, and I like the Under, though oddsmakers might bring this line out very low, so let's temper our expectations there.

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