Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Loves Me Some TNT

Guys, I want to begin by thanking everyone that's been riding this wave! The number of you continues to grow, seemingly, on a nightly basis, and I only hope that I can continue to leave you feeling fat and sassy!

We collected another winner on Wednesday, as the Dallas Mavericks had themselves a gut check and came up with some real intestinal fortitude, playing outstanding defense in the 4th quarter, and making their free throws to hold off the Lakers. The value was there, and it's always nice when that value leads to winners!

It has been a great run since the All Star Break, going 9-3, including 6-2 on Paid Plays (excluding a push), and a current run of 4-0-1 over the last 5 Paid Plays. In addition, we are also a robust 22-13 over our last 35 graded wagers (there were a pair of pushes in there, as well), and 34-21 over the last 55.

I must remind everyone, though, that we need to keep a level head while winning just as much as when losing! Don't go out tomorrow and lay all your winnings on one play! We are in this to make money LONG TERM, and as long as we continue to hit between 55-60% of plays, proper money management should ensure a monster profit down the line. So, do not lose sight of our goals.

Sports Wagering

Bucks @ Pacers - This line is OFF. This is a battle of two teams playing back-to-back games, but the difference is that the Bucks are one of the League's better back-to-back teams, at 9-5 SU and 11-3 ATS, while the Pacers are quite average, at 4-12 SU but 8-8 ATS (1-4 at home) in these spots. I would imagine we'll see this game pretty close to a Pick, but whatever the spread, I'm guessing it won't be a huge factor in deciding which team to favor. Fact of the matter is that this is just not a good spot for Indiana. I realize they're significantly better at home than on the road, where they generally do a better job of imposing their tempo, but a few key angles jump out as reasons to be scared of taking the Pacers. First, the Pacers are playing their first game home after a 4-game road trip through Texas and Chicago, so they're not likely to be comfortable returning to their building. Second, they play almost no defense, which is a disastrous way to try to compete with Milwaukee. The Bucks are a ridiculous 20-5 ATS against teams that allow over 100 points per game! One thing to note: the Pacers are on double-revenge, but at the same time, I'm not sure they are good enough to compete with the Bucks. So we need to weigh this little predicament. This line is going to come out, potentially, adjusted for revenge, and it's our job to determine if it's a tangible change in value, or nothing at all. Therein lies the tipping point for this game. I do have an early lean to Milwaukee based on the above notes, and I also think the Under has some value, as Milwaukee has really done a nice job this year of slowing down breakneck opponents.

Cavaliers @ Celtics - This line is OFF. Ah, the start of the TNT double-header, and easily the more interesting of the two games. The Cleveland Cavaliers, fresh off a win (and failed cover) against the Hornets at home, and riding a 4-game ATS losing streak, bring their traveling circus to Boston. The Cavs are also just 1-6 in their last 7 ATS, so this is clearly a team that peaked somewhere near win number 9 in their 13-game winning streak, and have since been vastly overvalued. That being said, this game has all the makings of the one that turns things around, so we need to be careful before just writing Cleveland off as a bad value. As we've talked about multiple times, the Cavs are a very strong 17-10 ATS against winning teams, meaning they're just 11-19 ATS against the scrubs of the NBA. This is a team that has its sights set on an NBA Championship, and thus, games with the NBA elite are the ones they take seriously. Lebron wants his teammates to taste victory against the best the League has to offer, but when you're giving a full 100% effort against half the NBA, you're going to want to go at 80% against the other teams. Fortunately here, Boston is among the elite, so we can be pretty sure we'll see a strong effort, if nothing else, from Cleveland. The Cavs are also on something of a revenge spot, and we'll have to wait and see if that gets factored into the line at all. Boston beat Cleveland in Ohio way back at the beginning of the season, and the Cavs still haven't had a chance to take a shot back at the Celtics. Cleveland, though, needs to work out some kinks on the defensive end, as they've allowed 5 of their last 7 opponents to break 100 points, despite allowing just an average 95 ppg to their opponents on the season. When a club is giving up at least 5 more points than they normally do, it's going to be awfully tough to win, and it's going to be even tougher to cover. So, how does this one play out? Well, Boston has been playing better since the All Star Break, but I'm still not convinced this team belongs at the top of the power rankings. In my opinion, despite winning 4 of 5 games since the Break, they haven't really impressed me, aside from the walloping they laid on the Blazers. They have allowed Denver and New York to score 114 and 106 points, respectively, in their last 2 games, and had to hang on to beat the Knicks at home on Tuesday. Like the Cavs, the Celtics haven't been covering many games, managing just a 2-7 ATS record in their last 9 games. So, here we have two of the East's best, each failing to play up to the expectations set in the line, and really, we shouldn't be surprised. These are the teams that come with a huge premium, and in the very long term, they should probably be losing propositions. But when they play one another, we can generally ignore the "premium" and handicap more on the situational spot, which I believe favors the Cavs. Cleveland is gaining rhythm and chemistry every day, and Boston is likely going to be without Paul Pierce (or if he plays, a version of Pierce with the flu), and while the line adjustment might not be to our liking, I expect this thing to come out close to a Pick, and I lean Cavaliers. I also think both teams are going to make a conscious effort to push the ball against tough opposing defenses, and I believe the public perceives both of these teams as extremely defense-heavy. If Boston wasn't coming off 2 ultra high-scoring games, I might think the Over would have some legs, but a lot is going to depend on where the books bring this line out. The Cavs are going to try to play some defense, but I just feel they need a game or two more to get all the rotations/assignments right on the defensive end.

Nuggets @ Warriors - Denver by 6 with a total of 227.5. At first glance, this one feels like the Nuggets should just steamroll the Warriors, but let's look back at the season series. Yes, the Nuggets are a perfect 3-0 against the Warriors this season, and when all is said and done, they should have a pretty solid chance of sweeping at the end of the night, but there's far, far more to it than that. If we exclude the first meeting of the season, which was the classic "team coming from the West coast into altitude" situation, and the Warriors subsequent blowout loss, we have two of the most hotly contested basketball games for any teams all season long. I know, you're thinking I'm nuts, but let's address them one by one. January 5, in Denver, the Warriors took on a shorthanded Nuggets team as just a 5.5 point road underdog. The Warriors actually had the lead with the clock ticking down, and as you may recall, Monta Ellis was whistled for a silly foul on J.R. Smith, who was attempting a desperation 35-footer. Smith calmly stepped to the foul line, hit the free throws, and the Nuggets won 123-122. Disappointing? Hell yes. So, how did the Warriors respond? Fast forward 15 days, when the Nuggets came to Oakland as a 6-point road favorite. Two things jump out. First, that's the exact same line we're seeing on this game, and second, that's basically the same line as the shorthanded Nuggets laid at home without Carmelo and Chauncey. I suppose it's not hugely important that we know that Carmelo and Chauncey are worth about 6 points on the spread, but the fact that the line hasn't changed between their last meeting and this one is very interesting. I suppose there's no real reason to chance the spread, since Denver won that game by 5 points. The Warriors are definitely going to be psyched up for this one, a big TV game where Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis can really try to shine. This is Denver's first game since defeating Boston 4 days ago at home, so I just wonder how focused they will be to really blow out a lesser team. I don't doubt Denver wants to win, but the Warriors just have a way of taking Denver's running style and cranking it up even one more notch; it's almost like the Warriors push the pace so hard that Denver gets sucked in and makes a few mistakes that allow Golden State to keep the game close. I like the Warriors to bounce back off an ugly game against the Sixers and keep this one competitive. I also like the Under. When two supremely high-octane teams play like this, in a big game, there is always going to be value on the Under. Also, folks that look at their previous meetings this year will see 145, 142 and 141 points and think this is a shoe-in. Well, consider this a bookmaker tipping his hand. I like the Under quite a bit.

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