Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Five Days of Fun

I will admit, writing these blogs is always easier off a sweet day, and it seems to get exponentially easier when we're rolling! Last night's Paid Play winner on the Cavaliers/Grizzlies Under puts our Paid Plays on a friendly little 9-5-1 run, and moves Paid Play Totals to a robust 6-1 since turning Pro!

The Free Premium selection of the Pacers was an easy winner, as they dominated the Raptors from start to finish, and Free Premium plays are now on a 10-4 run of their own!

Yes, that means we're 19-9-1 overall, and on a 7-1-1 run since the 0-2 Thursday last week. You want a bounceback? I'll give you a bounceback - 5 days worth!

Sports Wagering

Nets @ Raptors - This line is OFF. Oh, the Nets, so close! One point away from another cover last night, and now they have to go on the road and play a very tough Raptors team, also on a back-to-back, but coming off a sluggish loss in Indiana. Toronto beat New Jersey earlier this year, also in Toronto, by 17, and honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen again. Still, Toronto is due for a couple of failed covers, and I just wonder if the Raptors aren't going to be looking ahead to the 2 days off after this game against the pathetic Nets. And yet, I keep going back and forth on this one, since Toronto has shown that they're more than capable of beating the piss out of teams up in Canada. Let's dig a little more. The Raptors are a strong 14-9 ATS at home on the season, and 5-2 ATS at home in January. They are also generally a poor team on the back-to-back, but this going to be only the 2nd time all season they will be playing the latter half of the back-to-back on their home court, and they had no problem last time in that spot, dispatching the Spurs in a low-scoring tilt. No surprise here, the Nets are 0-10 SU on the second half of a back-to-back, but are also only 3-7 ATS. Despite their recent run of improved play, I'm not sure I can support a play on the Nets here. The covers have all come at home on this little ATS mini-run for the Nets, where they're now 9-14 ATS; they're just 7-17 ATS on the road. It's chalk-laying time, and I lean Toronto on the side. No lean on the total yet, though in my gut I'm thinking we might have some value in the Over.

Clippers @ Hawks - This line is OFF. This line being off just strikes me as silly, considering Chris Kaman was the question mark, and he played against the Bulls. Drop a line, damn it! The Clippers got a nice straight up win over the Bulls, but now have to head down south to Hotlanta, another team finishing up a back-to-back. The difference here, the Clippers got a win, and the Hawks got bopped by the Thunder. I really wish I had strong feelings on this side either way. The Clippers are on the last game of an 8-game road trip, so I have to lean the other way just based on that fact alone, but I'm not sure that the line is going to be short enough for the Hawks to cover. Obviously, I like Atlanta at home, where they're 17-7 ATS, but they've really leveled off after a crazy-hot start. Still, there aren't many angles pointing us against the Hawks, other than the fact that they're just not scoring now like they did at the beginning of the year, and you have to think they're tiring a tad. We'll roll with it: I lean Hawks. I think the total might afford some value, with the Clippers more inclined to keep the game relatively slow, running a set offense that relies on Kaman on the low block, Camby at the top of the key, and a lot of screens. They just don't get out on the break much, and when they do, they look uncomfortable. And while the Hawks couldn't really slow down the Thunder, I doubt the Clippers can put up those same numbers. I like the Under.

Bulls @ Sixers - Philly by 1.5 with a total of 194. I'll say right now, I pretty much hate this one. The Bulls are back on the road for 2 games after 1 ugly loss at home that immediately followed a very strong 7-game road trip. There is almost no way to know what kind of effort we're going to get from Chicago in this one. The immediate thought is that they're going to be tired, and damn it, they should be. So, do we like the Sixers? I sure as hell don't. Philadelphia remains one of the worst home bets in the NBA at 5-18 ATS at home. They've lost 3 straight games and have failed to cover 4 straight, and they just keep hitting for a couple games, then missing badly for a couple. This is the ultimate unpredictable outcome on the side. Chicago is 0-5 SU in home-to-road back-to-backs, so this isn't a good spot for them on the fatigue front, as well as the weird scheduling front. They also have a game with the Hawks on Friday, though I wouldn't really call it a look-ahead spot. Chicago beat Philly by 6 way back on November 14, so I'm not sure if this is really a revenge spot for the Sixers. Honestly, this game just makes me shrug, and wonder if there's any reason at all to flip a coin and go with one team or the other. The first meeting between these teams hit just 182 points, yet this line is actually higher than the 190 posted for the first game, but I just don't think these games are correlated. I think it goes Under again.

Wizards @ Knicks - This line is OFF. And when it does come out, I'm going to take a long look at it, since there are definitely a couple angles at play. Most importantly, these teams just played a few short days ago, and the Wizards dealt the Knicks a 10-point loss in Washington, despite the Knicks actually being favored by 2. There should be some revenge at play, though the Knicks have been slumping like crazy. New York has lost 3 straight and 5 of 6, including extremely disappointing losses at home to Toronto (blew a double-digit lead), and on the road in Washington and Minnesota. The Knicks aren't scoring, and they're not playing much defense, either, and it's tough to really pinpoint where things started crumbling, since just about every facet of the team's play has taken a severe hit. This isn't a traditional home-and-home, as both teams had 1 game in between their two contests, and both teams played pretty terribly -- the Wizards had the complete meltdown against Boston, and the Knicks, as we noted, got clubbed by the Wolves. So, which team has the motivation, if there is indeed any to have? The Knicks have the revenge, but they're only 12-16 ATS in revenge spots, so I'm not sure how much stock we can put in that. The Wizards are, despite the meltdown against the Celtics, playing better basketball than the Knicks right now. If Antawn Jamison didn't play his worst game of the season, Washington would have covered, and maybe even won their last game. But, as it stands, they did not. Still, I think the revenge might actually get us a point or two of bonus value on the Wizards, who will probably lose the game, but have a nice shot to cover; tiny lean to the Wiz. These teams almost hit the total right on the nose in their last one, so let's see where oddsmakers bring this one out. I would think just a shade lower, as New York should continue to stink, but the Wizards won't shoot as well on the road.

Heat @ Celtics - This line is OFF. This is a double-revenge spot for Miami, but the Heat are struggling mightily right now, so which angle weighs heavier? Well, Miami has lost 2 straight to the Bucks, they've lost 4 of 5 overall, picking up the lone win in there against the hapless Pistons. So, how will this hot-and-cold Miami team respond with a chance to up-end the mighty Celtics? That is the question that drives us. One can only assume the Heat will be grabbing a few points here against the Celtics, but with a rematch with Lebron waiting for Miami tomorrow, this is not going to be a fun 2 days for the Heat (barring two miracle wins). Still, with this daunting task ahead, I get the feeling Miami is really going to get up for a game with Boston. They know the Celtics are scuffling a bit, and are, to a certain degree, vulnerable. My concern here is that Boston will be undervalued because of those losses, but these are the Celtics we're talking about. Even when undervalued, they're still not a very good deal. The much-needed win over Washington might propel Boston to a couple more wins, but I just wonder if they'll cover against a Heat team that should be quite angry coming in here. I lean Miami. My feelings on the total are going to rely heavily on where it opens up. Both games with these teams have featured a posted mark of ~187 - the first went under, the second went over. Let's let the oddsmakers guide us a little bit here before showing our hand. I do have a feeling this one stays Under, but that's not a lean, not until we see the line.

Thunder @ Hornets - Oklahoma by 1 with a total of 193. Revenge time for the Thunder! Not only that, home revenge, as the Hornets beat Oklahoma by 5 as a 5-point dog back at the beginning of the year 2010. Right off the bat I'm looking at the Thunder here, and some angle is going to need to make me rethink this. Let's see what we can find: the Thunder are indeed on a back-to-back, and that is likely why we're seeing this line as low as it is, since we can safely assume the Thunder would be favored by 3 if not for the fatigue issue. Indeed, Oklahoma is coming off a hard-fought win over the Hawks, though to be fair, they led most of the game, Atlanta came back to tie it up early in the 4th, but the Thunder immediately pulled back out ahead, and held on down the stretch, and I'm not just not sure how much that took out of them. Last time the Thunder beat the Hawks, they beat Minnesota in the next game, but failed to cover, yet bounced right back with a few straight covers after that ATS loss. I realize that was a rambling thought, but I wanted to make clear that the Thunder seem to be highly focused, and don't seem to struggle with letdowns after battling Atlanta. So what about back-to-backs? The Thunder are just 4-5 SU, but have consistently outperformed the line with a nice 6-3 ATS mark on zero rest. The Hornets already seem to be feeling the effects of playing with Chris Paul, and I just don't think New Orleans can really compete for 48 minutes, even at home with rest, against a superior Thunder team that might have taken them lightly (due to Chris Paul's injury), except that the Thunder are going to want to get revenge. They're 7-5 ATS revenging a home loss, and this game is basically a pick. I lean Thunder, and I lean Over, as I feel defense will be lacking.

Warriors @ Mavs - This line is OFF. Ouch, if you're a Warriors guy. This team just got throttled by Houston, and now we have to try to determine if they'll bounce back accordingly. I'm not really sure why this line isn't posted, other than to make us more and more angry about not having any lines. Still, the Warriors beat the Mavs in Dallas back near the end of November, and 8-point outright victory as a 12.5-point underdog. So we have some strong angles, after all. We have the Warriors coming off a terrible performance, where I might normally advise backing them. We have the Warriors on a back-to-back, where they are 7-4 ATS, another sneaky reason to back Golden State. Then, we have the Mavs awful defense at home, and terrible ATS mark: Dallas is just 5-17 ATS at home, and allow nearly 100 points. Golden State will almost surely break 100. Dallas is also just 1-4 ATS when revenging a home loss, so it seems almost like they get tight when trying to get revenge, or the line inflation certainly comes back to bite them. Can we really back Golden State right now? They don't really have the talent to keep up with almost anyone, especially on the road, but Don Nelson still has some tricks up his sleeve facing a number of his former players, and I'm inclined to take the points with the huge road dog (line TBA). I also think that because Dallas plays no defense at home, I have to look at the Over first and foremost.

Suns @ Nuggets - This line is OFF. It's getting a little sickening how many lines are off, and how theoretical we're being forced to become, since we're literally finding angles before the line comes out and trying to determine where the line should be, and what's a trap, etc. Here, the Suns, suddenly playing with a little heart (but still not a great deal of skill) roll into the rather unfriendly confines in the Mile High City. To Phoenix's credit, they did cover in their only game against the Nuggets this year, losing by just 6 here in Denver as a 9-point underdog. Now, they come to town having won, and covered 3 in a row, including road wins at Houston and at New Orleans, but this will easily be the biggest test for the Suns since taking care of Dallas at home. The Nuggets have won 10 of 11 games, though they're not covering at nearly the same clip. The lack of Carmelo Anthony certainly changes how the Nuggets play, though they can still clearly win at home even without their leading scorer. The questions here include "can the Suns keep it up?" and "will Carmelo play, and if so, what will the line be?" Honestly, it's almost impossible to get a feel for the line until we know what the deal is with the injuries. To a certain degree, I hope Carmelo DOES play, since he'll move the line 2.5 points, most likely, and give us a little more value with the Suns. As you can see, I lean slightly to the Suns. The total went way under the last time these teams played (204, under 225 by 21 points), so while I do fully expect another under, it depends how much oddsmakers adjust.

Spurs @ Kings - This line is OFF. No surprise there, with both Tyreke Evans and Tony Parker questionable. Oddsmakers are really making us work these days! In any case, this is a double-revenge game for the Kings, with the Spurs beating them down both times the teams met so far this year, both times in San Antonio, mind you. Perhaps more interesting than the injury situation and the two previous big wins for the Spurs is the fact that there has been almost zero defense in both of the previous meetings. I immediately think that this total is going to be the point of value. The Spurs shot well over 50% in both games, and the Kings shot over 50% in the second meeting, and after the first game went over the posted mark of 201.5 by about 6 points, the second game soared over the total by 22. I am very curious to see where this line opens, since both of the previous games had posted totals in the 202 range. Oddsmakers should probably adjust that number up to the 210 area, but with the Spurs embarking on the rodeo road trip (and potentially without their fast-break artist, Tony Parker), and the Kings offensively challenged lately (other than a freak performance in Denver), I think we may get some huge value on the Under. Yes, that's a lean. In terms of the side, I have to take an initial look at the home dog. I know they're not technically a dog until the line comes out, but if Tyreke Evans misses another game, I don't see how there's any chance I can pick a side on this one. If he plays, I lean Kings.

Blazers @ Jazz - Utah by 7 with a total of 198. Finally, a game with a spread, and it's not even a game I like all that much. The Blazers will likely be without Brandon Roy for one more game, an this would really be a nice time to have him back. The Blazers are on double-revenge here, losing both in Utah and in Portland to the Jazz, who, for what it's worth, rolled over Portland in both games. Utah has shot 60% in both games, winning by 16 at home, and 11 on the road. Can the Jazz really shoot 60% again against the Blazers? I really doubt it. I realize Utah is surging, winning 6 in a row, and covering 5 of those 6, but this is a letdown spot for them, coming off the big home win over the Mavs, and something of a slight look-ahead spot with the Nuggets coming to down on the 6th of the month. I think Portland has the spread edge here, since most folks will think Utah covers 7 pretty easily against the Blazers, still without Roy, but Portland is right in that enviable spot where they got crushed a few times, lost their superstar, then as soon as folks forgot they existed, they started covering. Portland has covered 6 of 8 games, and Portland is a strong 15-8 ATS on the road, and 4-3 when revenging a home loss. I lean Blazers. On the total, I lean Under, given both of the previous games have hit 200, and now it's time to squeeze under the mark, especially with key components of both teams missing.

Bobcats @ Lakers - LA by 9 with a total of 191. This isn't a great spot for either team, really. Our job is to figure out which team it is a worse spot for. The Lakers come home off a brutally long 8-game road trip, but for the most part, a productive one, going 5-3, with only 1 of those 3 losses a game the Lakers probably "should" have won, that being in Toronto. Not a great road trip, but for one of the best teams in the League, winning 62.5% of road games will most certainly get the job done, especially when the Lakers are a robust 23-3 at home! However you feel about the road trip, the first game home is never easy. Just look at the Chicago Bulls last night, home off their 7-game west coast swing, and looked comatose throughout the entire game. But here, there's a problem. I'd love to immediately say "strong lean" to Charlotte, but the Bobcats are on the final game of their own 6-game road trip, another prime letdown spot, especially for a young team. The Bobcats might be looking ahead to getting home, though I suppose a game with the Lakers is nothing to look past. We need to remember, too, that the Bobcats do not fear the Lakers. They beat them twice last year, sweeping the season series, as LA clearly did not take them seriously, and you just wonder if this one has all those same markings. The Lakers were 11-point home favorites over Charlotte last year, so Charlotte has improved 2 points in a year, and Charlotte won that game by 7. I do lean to Charlotte here, and I lean to the Under, since I doubt we'll see anyone trying to really run away with this one.


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