Sunday, February 28, 2010

So Over Overtime

This is absolutely the best problem I've had since going Pro -- I'm running out of run ways to start a blog off a tough, hard-fought Paid Play winner!

All jokes aside, Sacramento seemed to have last night's game well in hand, but stagnated offensively late in the 4th quarter and allowed the Clippers to get to within 1 point! We got 2 big plays from Sacramento immediately thereafter, and managed to survive a pair of Clippers desperation three-pointers to get the win!

Our half-unit Free Play on the Bucks-Hawks Under got ruined by 5 extra minutes of basketball, but that's bound to happen. We had the right side, as regulation ended at 184 combined points, but overtime easily crashed through the posted mark of 190, and we just had to swallow that jagged little pill.

Sports Wagering

Mavericks @ Bobcats - Charlotte by 1 with a total of 191.5. The Mavericks are crazy-hot right now. But it's also pretty nuts to see a team as the final game on the card on one day, and the first game on the card the next. The Mavs played host to the Hornets on the late ESPN game last evening, ending around 11pm Central time, then had to hit the friendly skies for a quick flight to Charlotte, a 1-hour time difference, and try to get amped back up for this one with the Bobcats. This isn't a very good spot for either team, really. The Bobcats are coming home off a 4-game road trip that took them through the Midwest, the West Coast, and even down South. Luckily, they ended their trip close to home, so it wasn't as though they had to make the long flight back, and they ended the trip with a win, so they didn't mail it in. That being said, Charlotte heads to Boston for a showdown with the rival Celtics on Wednesday, and I worry that this home game might not inspire them, even though it's with a marquee opponent like Dallas. To the Mavs credit, they're winning games, and they're going it at both ends of the floor. Caron Butler returned to the lineup and had a great game against the Hornets, but on the season, Dallas is just 6-9 ATS in back-to-back spots. I'd be extremely careful betting this game, since both teams have some strong negative situational angles. If I had to pose a lean, I'd lean to the Bobcats, since this line is going to entice a TON of public money on Dallas, but it's more of a "tilt", as I've called them before. On the total, 191.5 might look low, but if the Bobcats half-ass it, or if the Mavs tucker out early, this could either turn into a fast-break game, or the Bobcats could slow things down to a crawl. I lean Under.

Magic @ Sixers - Orlando by 4 with a total of 195.5. The Magic are coming off an easy, cruising winner over the Miami Heat last night in an interesting double-revenge game for the Magic, and I think what that contest showed us was that Orlando is gearing up for the stretch. This team is definitely starting to play better, and I think we need to be very sure the other side has not just line value, but situational value as well before going against Orlando. For a marquee team, Orlando has been doing a very nice job against most competition -- the only issue, though, is that they seem to float out to lunch every once in a while, as evidenced by the late comeback they allowed the Mavericks, and then the awful 4th quarter effort in New Orleans. So, basically, if we can pinpoint the games where Orlando is going to be motivated to keep playing hard after 36 minutes, we're in business. Is this one of those games? I'm not so sure. These teams haven't played since late October, when the Magic blew Philly right out of the building, so I'm not really convinced this is a revenge spot. In fact, Philadelphia is in a pretty tough spot here, coming home from a West Coast road trip. The fact that Philly is going right back on the road to Atlanta likely means the "first game home" theory won't be quite as strong, but I still feel this is a sluggish position for them. The big problem is that Orlando is just 5-7-2 ATS on back-to-backs, so this is not a strong spot for the Magic either. I would be very careful with this one, but I do lean just slightly to the Magic in a positively square move. I like the Over as the better play, as I feel Philly is going to try to run, and the Magic on back-to-back end up in shooting matches.

Knicks @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 12 with a total of 209.5. This is one of the rare games that doesn't include a team coming off a Sunday game, so we can throw fatigue out the window. The Cavs come home off a 2-games-in-2-nights road trip through Boston and Toronto, and it couldn't really have gone much better. Mo Williams woke up, Cleveland won and covered both games, including a wild 4th quarter rally and win in Boston. Cleveland is sort of "done" with big games for a short bit, as their upcoming schedule is this one with the Knicks, then Jersey, Detroit and Milwaukee before a home date with the less-than-impressive Spurs. Last time the Cavs had an easier stretch of games, they rattled off a 13-game winning streak, though to be fair, they didn't cover quite a few near the tail end of that streak, once they become overvalued again. Over on the Knicks side, they're coming off a game they lost late to the Grizzlies, and lately, it's just tough to know what you're going to get from New York. In terms of past games, these two teams played one another in Cleveland pretty recently, with the Cavs winning that game back on February 6th by a high-scoring final score of 113-106, an "over" and a failed cover. I find it intriguing that the spread in this game is exactly the same as the last one, though I rarely find premium-level value in games with spreads this large. Still, you have to think the Knicks wouldn't mind making the Cavs work, so I would have to lean to the road dog, but more than that, I like the Under. The Knicks and Cavs, in the last meeting, shot 52.6% and 50%, respectively, and the total hit 219 - they simply won't play that level of a game again, and I lean Under.

Spurs @ Hornets - San Antonio by 2 with a total of 195. Two more teams playing in a back-to-back, and by now you probably know how these two teams perform in these spots. If not, quickly, the Spurs old bones are 3-6 ATS in back-to-back games, kind of amazing, if only because they've only been involved in 9 back-to-backs. That's about 3 or 4 fewer than most other teams in the NBA. I'm not calling "shenanigans" just yet, but I have to wonder if San Antonio put in a request to the League office to play an inordinate number of games on 1 day of rest, and just bail on 0, 2 and 3+ rest situations. Whatever. Not important. The Spurs are a bad tired team, that's what we need to know, and they struggle to compete, playing to a 1-8 O/U mark, as well. I think that's why we're seeing such a low total in this game, despite the fact that New Orleans has been playing an extremely fast-paced game. New Orleans and Dallas played to the Over last night, and while the Hornets are just 7-5 ATS in back-to-back spots, they have played to the Over a bit more than the Under. I don't like when two teams have competing trends in a particular spot. I guess I just wonder which team is going to tire first, especially with the Hornets starters playing big minutes in last night's ATS push, straight up loss in Big D. I just can't trust San Antonio, though, and I lean Hornets to get it done at home. I also think the Spurs under trends are bringing this total down nice and low, and there may be some value with an Over.

Hawks @ Bulls - This line is OFF. This game didn't have much going for it until the Hawks-Bucks game went to Overtime last night (and ruined our Free Play on the Under). Now, suddenly, we've got the non-covering Hawks coming off a huge OT win over the Bucks, who, really, should have won last night's game. So, if this line comes out a little screwier than you would have expected - that is, Chicago as a short favorite, a great deal of that can be attributed to fatigue. The Hawks have been an even 7-7 ATS on back-to-back situations, so they are, for lack of a better term, mundane in these spots, but we don't have quite the same breadth of information to study when it comes to games off OT. I tend to like fading a team off an emotional OT win, since usually the next game comes with a letdown. The Hawks have been somewhat back and forth since starting the year with a flourish, so there's not much to take away from them in terms of ATS streaks. On the Bulls side, Chicago has been playing great basketball, but clearly had nothing in the tank in their loss at Indiana. They have been playing swarming defense, which basically means the Hawks are going to need to hit outside shots to win this game, and that's a tall order. As far as the series history, each team has won their home game(s), with the Hawks beating the Bulls senseless way back in early December. The Bulls came back with a win at home a few weeks later, and the teams didn't meet again until early in February, when the Hawks picked up a 10-point home win. The Bulls have some measure of revenge here, and don't play again until hosting Memphis on the 4th. I lean Chicago. I have no idea what to expect on the total, though, as the Hawks don't have any strong totals-trends when on back-to-back, and I believe the Bulls fast-break offense will be counterbalanced by their swarming defense. No lean on the total.

Blazers @ Grizzlies - Memphis by 1 with a total of 195. I'll come right out and say that I'm not a fan of either side, so don't get excited that I'm going to break down this one and we'll have an epiphany part way through. Bottom line is that Portland is playing very strong basketball right now, but they're on the final game of a 5-game road trip, and they're coming off an easy winner over Minnesota in their 4th game in 5 nights. You have to believe Portland is going to be a little bit fatigued. But then, you've got the revenge factor. Portland won the first meeting this year, in Memphis. Since then, the Grizzlies have won 2 straight meetings, both in Portland, and have shot 54 and 52% in those two games. I simply can't imagine Memphis putting that kind of hurt on the Blazers again. One of those wins was something of a surprise; the other came when Memphis was rolling, and the Blazers were scuffling a bit. With Brandon Roy healthy again, Portland is suddenly among the top Western Conference teams, and they're showing it on this road trip, winning and covering 3 of the first 4 games. See, Portland is one of those teams that has actually closed out trips strong, so I'm not sure if this is necessarily a true "fade" spot for the Blazers. They seem to be gelling nicely, and Marcus Camby is starting to work himself into the rotation, as well. The Grizzlies aren't playing all that inspired lately, so it's tough to find a reason to back them, though they are coming off a decent road win in New York. I suppose I'd lean just slightly to the Blazers to finish their trip strong, but again, I don't like either side. I happen to like the Under, as I think this one is going to feature some tough defense and missed shots.

Raptors @ Rockets - This line is OFF. Welcome to the infirmary. The Raptors and Rockets are both missing key pieces, particularly offensively. The Raptors have been playing without Chris Bosh, and had been doing a decent job of competing prior to last night, when they got absolutely throttled by the Thunder, to no one's surprise. These young guys just can't get it done on the road, especially against an extremely strong Oklahoma City club that not only scores prolifically but also plays lockdown defense. This is a more interesting match-up than yesterday's, since the Rockets are an undersized, outclassed team that overachieved for the first 3 months of the season and only now it seems their lack of size is catching up with them. I suppose my concern here is that Toronto really couldn't look much worse to bettors than they do right now. They are coming off that demoralizing OT loss to the Cavs, then getting killed last night, so there really isn't much line value in going against them, even though the Rockets look almost as bad. Houston is coming off a 23-point loss in Utah, and they seem to bounce between losing a few in a row, then getting an odd win. Is this the odd win game? I'm inclined to think so -- I just don't see how Toronto can get anything done on the road without Bosh. He is the guy that can not only get his own shot, but make it, and make it at a nice clip. Without him, the Raptors are stuck firing up contested long range jumpers, and while those drop at home, they clank wide on the road. I lean Houston, and I lean Over, since this game has all the makings of a streetball style, up-and-down, chaotic mess.

Nuggets @ Suns - Phoenix by 2.5 with a total of 223.5. This line was actually OFF as of earlier today, but once oddsmakers saw who was healthy and playing in the Suns and Nuggets games yesterday, it seems like they had no problem bringing this line out. I suppose the thought, and why we're seeing the Suns ranked as high as we are is that books feel the Nuggets are going to be on a letdown after their game with the Lakers. Still, I don't like picking a side in this one. The Nuggets are 5-8-2 ATS on back-to-back games, but the Suns are no better at 5-9 ATS. The difference here is that Denver is playing a 4th in 5 nights. Both of these teams played afternoon games yesterday, so I suppose they did have some time to get to Phoenix and get a little rest, and for that reason, I would be very careful before touching a side in this one. On top of all those ugly back-to-back game numbers, the Nuggets are actually on revenge, with Phoenix beating them 109-97 in Denver near the start of February. Too many competing angles here, in my opinion, and I have no lean on the side. On the total, both of these teams have given up a ton of points on back-to-backs, but there's clearly no value on the Over in a game with the Nuggets and Suns. I happen to think this one gets played at a very high tempo, so I do, in fact, lean to the Over, but it's a zero value play - more a hunch than anything else, and based on the fact that the previous meeting was somewhat low-scoring, I think this one goes back to the traditional type.

Jazz @ Clippers - Utah by 6.5 with a total of 203. Utah has dispatched of the Clippers twice already this season, winning by double digits once in both Utah and in California. So, what's different about this meeting? The answer: not much. The Clippers are coming home off a narrow defeat in Sacramento, and to their credit, they are a MUCH better team at home than on the road, but they're just 6-8-1 ATS in back-to-back spots, and Utah is not a team that you can play a fatigued style of game against. I know the so-called "value" is with the home team getting a bunch of points, but other than the double-revenge angle, there just isn't anything supporting a play on the Clippers here. The Jazz are definitely overvalued, I wouldn't argue with anyone about that, but this is a largely lopsided match-up, and the one spot where the Clippers SOMETIMES have an advantage, at the point, the Jazz are even stronger. Chris Kaman can also be kept in check by Utah's rough and tumble bigs like Boozer and Millsap. I happen to think that the Jazz don't play quite as well as they did a month ago, the last time they came to Staples to play the Clippers, and in that regard, I believe this line is pretty accurate. No leans on the side. The Clippers appear to be in no hurry to run the ball lately, and while the Jazz have indeed played to 4 straight overs, they are definitely a slower, more methodical team on the road, and I lean Under.

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