Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back to WarmT

We were SO close to leapfrogging "Warm" and getting all the way to "Quite Warm," but the Grizzlies let us down.

A lot to recap from yesterday with 3 plays going (if you can believe this phrasing) a "disappointing" 2-1. The Paid Play on the Memphis Grizzlies was a damn heartbreaker, but looking at it from a pure handicapping perspective, we could not have been any more correct in our assumptions. We knew the Grizzlies would bring their top game for what's basically the last interesting home game of the year, and we knew the Mavs would sleepwalk off the big win over Denver. But Memphis is a bad team, and overtime dealt us a crushing blow.

The earlier of two Free Premium selections was a super-easy winner on Atlanta, and the Lakers looked sluggish and uninterested, basically what you'd expect with a team locked into 1st place and playing a road game against an opponent that feels like they have something to prove. A solid assessment of the action, and that's how it went.

The later Free Play on the Spurs was also quite accurate, as San Antonio took advantage of a tired, banged-up Rockets club, and just out-classed Houston, slowly wearing them down and eventually winning big.

Just the short TNT card, but two very interesting games, so let's tackle them!

Sports Wagering

Magic @ Mavericks - This line is OFF. With Dallas playing the second half of a back-to-back, though, and Dallas recently listed as a 7-point dog in Orlando, I would expect to see the Magic as a slight favorite on the road here. It's tough to know exactly who is going to get the public love with two hugely marquee teams going head to head like this. The Magic are probably the bigger draw, given that they are running out guys like Dwight Howard, but word is that Vince Carter might sit this game, so that could, in effect, move the line back closer to a pick. Interestingly, both of these teams are coming off wins over the Denver Nuggets, who host the Blazers in the next game on TNT. That wouldn't be quite so interesting, except that these teams are in different conferences, both played the Nuggets, then play each other here. The Mavericks have a game currently in progress against the Memphis Grizzlies, so I'll refrain from finishing this paragraph until that game is over, but here's my take on the impact of that game on this one. If the Mavericks play a tough one with the Grizzlies, the last shot of the game might dictate whether we have a lean in this TNT game. What I mean by that is that if Dallas loses a tough one, they may be inclined to really come back full tilt. If Dallas wins a tough one, they might suffer a bit of a letdown. If it's a Dallas blowout, beware Orlando. If it's a Grizzlies blowout, Dallas would have some value. The Mavericks have been playing strong basketball, and they even came up with a big home win over the Nuggets, but I really want to see how this team does against an opponent that plays defense, and one that isn't struggling like Denver. They beat Orlando by 10 on the road earlier this year, so they know they can compete, but will Orlando come back looking to even up the season series? In the middle of the season I'd definitely give Orlando some revenge edge points, but this late in the year, it's tough to think that Orlando is more concerned with revenging a loss than they are with getting healthy and getting ready for the playoffs. I happen to think it will be a supremely exciting game no matter which way it turns out. Let's finish this write-up after the Dallas game finishes up...(time elapses)...haha, well yikes to the end of that Dallas game. I really did take an hour break in here to see how the Dallas-Memphis game unfolded, and now, with overtime and a win and ATS victory in Dallas's corner, I am suddenly a fan of the Magic. Orlando is a solid road team, and Dallas is neither good nor bad on back-to-backs, but just 1-4-1 ATS when those back-to-back games go away-to-home. I lean Orlando. The total is intriguing, as Dallas seems to play to roughly the same totals when they're fatigued, allowing about 1.5 points more and scoring just a hair less. The last time these teams played, they finished with a total of 180, 25 points under the posted mark, and Orlando really plays something of an underrated defense. I'm curious to see where this line comes out, but I happen to think the Under should have a little value.

Blazers @ Nuggets - Denver by 4.5 with a total of 201.5. Boy, Denver has to be really in bad shape for this line to be this low. Considering Portland had a game with the Knicks late last night in Portland (a game Portland just dominated), and they're playing a back-to-back situation. We know how tough these can be for teams, even though Portland is one of the strongest back-to-back teams in the NBA (14-3 ATS). It's that stat that might eventually keep us off this game, along with a few situational angles that make this one a tough one. Denver will be playing its first game at home in quite some team, returning off a miserable 1-4 road trip SU, and a perfectly awful 0-4-1 goose-egg against the spread. In fact, going back to the homestand before the roadie, the Nuggets are losers of their last 8 ATS decisions, plus that one push. This is a team in complete disarray, and I just wonder if this line is the ultimate value spot for Denver -- since, by all accounts, this number indicates the Blazers are now better than Denver on a neutral court -- or if oddsmakers just realize that to get any money on Denver at all, they need to deflate the heck out of the line with Denver's recent struggles. We know Portland has been having a fine go of it lately, going 13-3 SU in their last 16 games, and posting a nice 5-1-1 ATS mark in their last 7 games. But (and this is a large "but"), despite all those situational and trend numbers, the Pepsi Center has not been kind to the Blazers. They lost there by 12 just a few weeks back, and Denver is 20-6 SU at home against the Blazers over the last decade-plus. Okay, so, first thing, with Portland beating New York into another dimension, this line should actually come down just a tiny bit more because of the public perception that life is just that easy for Portland. I happen to think that with Denver getting pummeled lately, oddsmakers would love to see this string of ATS losses come to an end. Few things hurt the books more than streaks, since folks that don't pay attention see a team that lost 5 in a row and figure they'll just fade them until they win, and that's where we are now with Denver, as they barely drew over 50% of the public's love despite getting 5 points in Dallas, and Portland is one of the hottest teams in the NBA. This might very well be that game where Denver wakes up and squeezes one out. I hate that I like the struggling team in a rather poor situational spot (first game home), but the value is ridiculous with the Nugs, and I can't ignore it - lean to Denver. The total is too low - Portland is playing some solid offensive basketball, and if Denver is going to win and cover, they're going to need to put up some points. Lean to the Over. Sort of a correlated "lean."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lukewarm

A slight regression back to "lukewarm" for this blog, but a big Wednesday on the horizon, so we could potentially leapfrog warm with a strong day.

Yesterday, we dropped a clunker on the Sixers, who just got mauled by the sweet-shooting Thunder. Bad call by me, as at this stage of the season, the Thunder were clearly not looking ahead to the Celtics today, and they absolutely rained in shots from the perimeter. Those kids can shoot! We're still in the black for the week, going 3-1 on medium plays and 0-1 on smaller plays, so absolutely no reason to panic, and every reason to get excited about today.

Looking at some of our other leans from yesterday, the Pacers ended up getting a Push against the Kings, blowing a double-digit lead to offer up something of a "back door tie." There are some folks out there that had a win, some that had a loss, but the bottom line is that oddsmakers had that line on the mark, and we were wise to avoid the game, since Tyreke Evans was a huge reason the Kings stayed in the game.

Our other strongest lean was on the Wizards, since all indications pointed to the Rockets taking Washington lightly, and the Wizards not wanting to go the entire month of March without a win. And Washington lost, but they took that bad boy right down the wire. We had it capped right, and we passed for the wrong reasons. Washington is tough to trust, but this was the right spot, we had it in our grasp, and we let it go.

Monster card today, so slightly shorter write-ups, because you guys don't want your pal Dan Bebe getting carpal tunnel, right?

Sports Wagering

Sixers @ Bobcats - Charlotte by 9 with a total of 190. The quick and easy of this one is that Charlotte definitely wants this one a heck of a lot more than Philadelphia, and after watching the Sixers play defense and rebound last night, they may be in a tough spot. Can Charlotte cover 9? I would honestly give a quick response of maybe. This one feels like a pretty accurate line, with the line actually pretty fair, and I would honestly feel like it would be a reflex play to go on the Bobcats. The Sixers, as we all remember, are okay on back-to-backs, and a far better road ATS wager than a home one. The line on this one is actually a little on the low side, given Philly playing the back-to-back, and I think that's a huge reason to be careful. When we get to this point of the season, and I won't repeat this the rest of the blog (I promise), unless the favorite, the better team, is in some sort of awful situational spot, you have to at least consider the better team. The Bobcats want and need this game far more than Philly; Charlotte is playing decent ball, but got caught with their pants down by the Raptors. I happen to think they bounce back, as they've been mighty tough at home all season long. I lean to the Bobcats. The total of 190 seems high for a Bobcats game, but both of these teams have been embroiled in some high-scoring affairs. Can we really trust Charlotte to miss a ton of shots? I actually think Charlotte might be a value on an Over right now, believe it or not.

Bucks @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 9.5 with a total of 190. Yes, you saw that right, this game has almost the exact same spread as the previous one. Neither one of these teams is playing all that well against the spread right now. The Cavs are trying to get healed up for the Playoffs, and the Bucks are trying to get their act together and win a few games, or at least look good losing, if that's possible. Since neither team is in a particularly good or bad spot (the Bucks are the League's best back-to-back team), normally I'd say to look at the favorite, but I happen to think the Bucks are in a much stronger motivational spot, here. The Cavs don't need this game, and I don't think revenge comes into play because the loss in Milwaukee occurred without Lebron. Milwaukee is in danger of slipping behind Miami, with just a 2-game lead, and they would then have to face the Celtics instead of the Hawks in the first round. I expect to see the Bucks best effort, and I think we're getting a heck of a deal with the extra 2 points on the back-to-back. I lean Milwaukee. On the total of 190, well, it feels pretty accurate. The Cavs defense has been a little hit-or-miss lately, and I just find it hard to determine which one is going to show. I think Milwaukee wants this game, and they know Cleveland is better in the open court, so I happen to think this one squeezes Under.

Lakers @ Hawks - Atlanta by 1.5 with a total of 196. This one is going to be a doozy! The Lakers, Kobe in particular, won't take kindly to that loss in New Orleans, and the Hawks are in playoff tune-up mode right now, trying to get that confidence boosted, and it seems to be working. After a stupid loss to Philadelphia, the Hawks came back home and throttled the suddenly hot Indiana Pacers. And now, the Hawks get the Lakers and the Cavs to prove they're playoff-ready. The Lakers beat Atlanta in an incredibly high-scoring game in LA back in November, but that was when neither team had a care in the world. The final score of 228 certainly backs that assessment. But now, we're talking about an angry Lakers team, an inspired Hawks team, a rocking arena (finally). This one has all the makings of a mostly-meaningless classic. With the Lakers on the final game of this strenuous road trip, I can't help but think some of these guys aren't going to care quite as much as Kobe. I have a slight lean to Atlanta. The total looks too high. The Hawks aren't pushing the tempo like they used to, and they're defending better. We're not going to see another 228, and the Lakers-Hornets game probably should have stayed under the total, if not for an absurd ending that featured about 15 fouls and a near-70-point 4th quarter. I lean Under.

Clippers @ Raptors - Toronto by 9.5 with a total of 204. It's pretty clear the Clippers are about done. Toronto needs this game like crazy, and I hate to say it, but everything points to a blowout. There's almost nothing going on in this one to make me think the Clippers have a reason to play. They're without their point guard, they're tired, they had to travel through customs off a game in Milwaukee, they're losing an hour to the time change, and, well, they stink. Lean to the Raptors. The total of 204 is too high. Clippers have no offense, so Toronto would need to score 110 to make this one relevant. Lean to the Under.

Thunder @ Celtics - This line is OFF. The Thunder can be pretty scary at times, and while I'd love to back them here, I'm not sure the value is there. Oklahoma is coming off beating the hell out of Philadelphia last night, and Boston is coming off getting hammered at home by the Celtics. We know how Boston loves to make examples out of young teams on the rise, but do they still have it in them? This is a screwy game, and I honestly don't have terribly strong feelings in either direction. I happen to think Boston brings their A game, but I also think Oklahoma makes the same strong play. No lean on the side. They played an ultra-slow game in Oklahoma earlier this year, so I wonder how this one plays out. I'm inclined to believe Boston keeps it nice and slow, so I'd love to say I lean Under. I guess I'm just getting into the playoff mindset. But the Thunder are 7-7 ATS on back-to-backs, and 8-5-1 O/U, so maybe we ought to just be careful all around with this one. With the Thunder trending over in fatigue spots, and Boston looking to keep the game slow, it could very well find an equilibrium in the middle. Tiniest lean to the Under, but really, no strong feelings.

Suns @ Nets - Phoenix by 7.5 with a total of 212.5. So, the Nets got their precious win. Does that mean the pressure's off, or does that mean they stop playing hard? That's the coin-flip in this one, and that's the biggest reason to tread cautiously. The Suns aren't in a particularly good spot, having waged a furious end-of-the-game comeback to drop the Bulls last night, and Phoenix is notoriously bad in back-to-back games (6-11 ATS). This does appear to be a potential letdown spot for Phoenix, with something of an easy schedule until the last couple games of the regular season, but honestly, I just don't know what to expect. This is uncharted territory for the 2009-2010 season, with a Nets team that just avoided becoming the worst team in NBA history, and a Suns team that clinched a playoff spot with the win last night in a very tough game, but also needs to battle hard to keep any kind of advantageous spot in the Western Conference playoff standings. I would love nothing more than to back the Nets here, but I just think it's too dicey, at least until we know more about any potential Suns players getting the night off. No lean on the side as of late tonight, but let it be known I'm looking for a reason to take the Nets. The total of 212.5 should draw some good money on the over, but I'd be inclined to think Phoenix tries to rest the starters as much as humanly possible. Tiny lean to the Under.

Heat @ Pistons - This line is OFF. I still have no idea how the Pistons were favored against the Bulls in that last game. This team is in full-on tank mode. The fans aren't coming, and the veterans know they need a top draft pick way more than a late-season win. The Heat should be laying a few points on the road here, and I believe they can cover. Miami is playing outstanding defense lately, and the Pistons are a less-than-worthy opponent against that tough Miami half-court. Interestingly, these teams have only played once this year, and Miami crushed the Pistons, holding them to just 65 points. I realize the one angle that goes against Miami is some sort of revenge for that embarrassing home loss, but we're past that. We're at a point in the season where things that happened previously just aren't as important. We have to handicap the "Now", and right now, Miami is only 2 games away from stealing 5th place away from the struggling Bucks. They'd enjoy a win here, and because it's a road game, I'm guessing they'll only have to cover ~4 points. I guess we'll see, but without knowing the line, I have a lean to the Heat. Detroit's been going a little streetbal style lately, so I'm not sure how to gauge the total - we know Miami wants to keep it slow and ugly, but how effective will Detroit be at making it an exhibition game? Let's wait and see what line we're given on the total.

Wizards @ Hornets - New Orleans by 9.5 with a total of 197. A letdown spot for BOTH teams! Washington off a loss in Houston last night in a game they most certainly could have won, and New Orleans off a fine home win over the Lakers. Now, I find it very hard to believe that Chris Paul sees as many minutes in any game the rest of the way as he did against the Lake-show. The Hornets are going to win this game, there's no doubt in my mind of that, but I'm just not sure they have the gusto to cover. Washington is still winless in March, but they're terrible on back-to-backs, can't score, don't have depth, and this game has all the makings of a classic stinker. I think New Orleans might barely squeeze it out, but this is one of the weakest leans of the day, just a "tilt", and I also think Washington's completely inability to break 85 points when they're tired is going to keep this game Under the posted total. I would indeed go so far as to call that a lean to the Under. And plus, we're getting a little value on the total because of the Hornets high-scoring 4th quarter with the Lakers. That type of insane foul-crazy ending is just not likely to happen again, especially with two teams that have no impetus to "want" the game.

Kings @ Wolves - Minnesota by 2 with a total of 209.5. The Wolves are favored? What? I mean, I know the Kings are done for the season, but they just got their most important player back, and the Kings were actually a formidable opponent before Evans went down. All of the Kings' losses came against formidable opponents when they were healthy, and they did just beat these same Wolves by 14 at home. Minnesota hasn't won a game since February 23, and while I do believe Sacramento might be a little tired on the back-to-back, I also believe we're getting a nice value with a team that wants to finish the year strong. The reasons this isn't a "strong" lean? Sacramento playing the final game of a road trip, and the Kings are just 6-10 ATS on back-to-backs, so they've needed more than the usual 2 points. But man has Minnesota been a mess. I know this line is telling us to be careful, but I happen to think the Kings want to get a couple wins heading into the offseason, and this Minnesota team is beyond beatable. Slight lean to Sacramento, but I'm not sure I can overlook the situational angles telling me not to bet them. The total of 209.5 is accurate. These teams are going to score some points, but if either one of them takes a quarter off, it'll be tough to clear this number. This game is yelling at me to avoid it altogether, but if I had to offer a take on the total, I'd lean Over, since it seems like neither team is going to take this game too seriously, which means minimal defense.

Mavericks @ Grizzlies - Dallas by 2 with a total of 206. Something very odd about this line. Dallas is coming off a monster home win over the Nuggets, an inspiring event that featured a Dirk Nowitzki triple-double, and a 16-point win over one of the best in the West. Tomorrow, after this game with Memphis, Dallas plays host to the Orlando Magic. This one screams "Sandwich" game. I've already browsed the forums, and I'm seeing countless people jumping on Dallas based off one strong home win over Denver. It might look like the easiest play to ever come across your plate, but I would offer a stern warning not to dump your entire salary on the Mavs. This is a game they're going to take for granted, with Memphis seemingly done for the season. Memphis has played Dallas tough this year, and I'm not convinced the Grizzlies don't get up for this home game. Let's face it, this is the last interesting home game for the Grizzlies this season. They host New Orleans and Houston, but every other game the rest of the way is on the road. I expect this one to go an awful lot like the way the Lakers game went in New Orleans. A rabid home crowd that wants to see a superstar comes out and screams like crazy. A line that looks too good to be true turns out to be a mess, and Dallas backers are left scratching their heads. Just please be careful here. Lean to Memphis. The Grizzlies are going to try to turn this into a dogfight, since Dallas is still more a finesse team, even with Haywood and Butler in the rotation, so I would think we get off to a very quick start and slow markedly over the course of the game. The total is pretty accurate, as I see Memphis winning this game outright with totals right around 100 points apiece. I guess I could offer a tiny lean to the Under, but I think the side is the stronger play.

Rockets @ Spurs - This line is OFF. I can't help but think Manu plays in this one, as the Spurs return home off a truly unnecessary loss to the Nets, and still embroiled in a battle for playoff positioning in the West. The Rockets finally snapped a 4-game losing streak with a win last night against the Wizards, and they have been one of the League's poorer back-to-back teams (5-14 ATS). I wonder how bettors are going to react to the Spurs losing to the Nets and the Rockets winning last night (and failing to cover). I only hope that those results drive a tiny bit of money over to the Houston side, because something tells me San Antonio takes this game way more seriously than Houston. Houston has played the Spurs tough this year, so I wouldn't completely discount them, and the line is likely to be pretty hefty, but the Spurs can play some defense when they actually want to, and maybe Duncan will finally "nut up" and post some numbers against a wildly out-sized Rockets club that has struggled with big men all season long. I lean to Spurs. San Antonio is also going to try to keep it slow, though we know Houston wants to run on back-to-back, unable to play defense, and shorthanded without Shane Battier. I have to lean just slightly to the Under, since I foresee Houston struggling offensively, but this one is subject to change depending on where we see this line.

Warriors @ Jazz - This line is OFF. There are two camps here. The one that says this is a look-ahead spot for the Jazz, with a game in Los Angeles coming up in 2 days, and the one that says the Warriors have just about packed it in. I'm, frankly, just not willing to take a chance. The line is going to be monumental in size, but the Jazz are just so much stronger, that if they aren't looking ahead, this one could get ugly quick. If they are looking ahead, Utah could still potentially cover a large line against a team they should be able to push around. That's the beauty of the Jazz system - they run such indefensible sets that it almost doesn't matter if they're in a look-ahead, they'll still get their points. The question is whether they can slow down the Warriors. The Jazz should win the rebound battle by a wide margin if they're focused, but again, at this point in the season, that's a big "if." I would recommend waiting on the side - let's see some line movement before making any calls. The total is based on the same principles - if the Jazz are focused, this one stays Under, if not, the Warriors can turn this thing into a madhouse.

Knicks @ Blazers - Portland by 10 with a total of 201. There really isn't much value here on either side. The Knicks played the Jazz tough and stayed within the spread, and now they head to another difficult road venue, the Rose Garden, for another hotly contested battle. There is the potential for a look-ahead here, with Portland playing in Denver tomorrow, but the Blazers are really rolling right now, and seem to be taking just about every game with the utmost of care. They lost to these Knicks earlier this year, so it's tough for me to think the Blazers aren't going to be on their best behavior in this one, but certainly the situational angles favor New York. 10 is a ton of points, but Portland is so hot right now, it's a little tough to advocate going the other way. Slight lean to New York. Portland is also scoring like crazy, but they tend to do that on the road. Portland plays lockdown defense at home, though the obvious concern is that New York somehow gets Portland out of their comfort zone. I desperately want to take the Under and trust Portland's defense, but if they slip and look ahead just a little, this game might get up to a higher number than Portland wants. Teeny, tiny lean to the Under.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Warm

For the next few days, I want to try titling the blog based on the temperature of our group handicapping. Last week, things were a tad frigid. Sunday, we put together a strong day to get to "Lukewarm," and after a winning Top Play and some hugely profitable leans that went unplayed, I'd say we qualify for "Warm."

As far as yesterday is concerned, we did pick up a supremely easy winner on the New Orleans Hornets, who didn't need the points. The first line of the analysis, for those that bought the play, indicated that the Hornets were going to win the game outright, so hopefully some folks put a tiny nub of their recreational bankroll on the money line. If not, no big deal; we got a winner, and the Hornets biggest crowd of the entire season caused just the kind of havoc we expected.

During the week, you guys know you're getting a chunky-size blog, but I want to also do a better job of recapping most of our leans from the day before, time permitting.

We eliminated the Bobcats play early in the day when the line jumped up almost a full point, then stopped moving. Clearly, oddsmakers were content with the money split, and the line had gotten too high. We were correct in eliminating that play.

We eliminated the Nets play because of the volatility of a late injury scratch. When Manu Ginobili went down, I actually had to scrap about 300 words of analysis on the Nets, as I was one mouse-click away from submitting them as a play. Obviously, we should have kept that play alive, but I'm not upset, because in the long term betting against teams losing a key piece is actually a bad value. Last night it worked, but it's a scary spot.

And finally, we eliminated the Mavericks lean because of Dallas's home record. This is the one eliminated lean that left a bad taste in my mouth, since our reasons for laying off the play were not that strong. The reason listed, that "Dallas is bad at home" is a somewhat remedial reason to avoid a play this late in the season, and Dallas went on to crush the Nuggets handily. Denver had no energy on the last game of a long, brutal road trip, and looked tired on the back-to-back. Dallas came to play, and with a win later in the night, Utah moved past Denver for the Northwest division lead. Big day for the Jazz, and foolish move on our part to skip this lean. Lesson learned.

Sports Wagering

Kings @ Pacers - This line is OFF. I suppose Tyreke Evans is nearing a return, but I don't know his status just yet. Let's assume he's still out. With that in mind, we have to decide if the fairly large number that the Pacers are laying is going to be too many. I'm pretty well convinced that Indiana is going to win this game. They're playing good basketball, and even in the loss in Atlanta, they looked better at the defensive end of the floor - they just didn't make shots. That problem doesn't usually come into play at home against a poor defensive team. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pacers laying 6 or 7 points, here, maybe even as high as 8, but with the way they've been playing, that's not that crazy. If this number is on the lower end of that spectrum, that could be a value with Indiana. The Kings won the first game without Evans, but since then have lost 4 straight, and while they did cover the most recent two games, those games weren't really close, the Kings were just getting a ton of points. In this one, neither team is in a great situational spot - the Pacers are a young team coming off a win streak, and the Kings are missing their best player and coming off games with Boston and Cleveland. I'm just not sure the Kings care about these games near the end of the season, at least not the ones on the road. The effort hasn't been that great, and I'm inclined to believe Indiana surprises Sacramento with a way tougher game than they expect - lean to Pacers. On the total, I would love to see a number near 210, since Indiana's improving defense could mean some value with the Under, but the posted total has to help us out a little here.

Thunder @ Sixers - Oklahoma by 6 with a total of 195. One of the League's best road teams, the Thunder, with a game tomorrow in Boston, taking on one of the League's worst home teams, Philadelphia, with a game tomorrow in Charlotte. I would certainly say that between those two look-ahead scenarios, the one facing the Thunder is a little more extreme. However, as we've covered many times over the last 2 weeks, at this point in the season, I'm just not sure that the idea of the look-ahead truly exists. This is a part of the season where the good teams hunker down and take care of business against every opponent, good or bad, hot or cold. And right now, the Thunder are embroiled in a ridiculous cluster of teams out West all battling for home court and battling to avoid the Lakers in the opening round. Oklahoma is in decent shape, a little ahead of the bottom of the pack, but there's more than enough time left for anybody to slide into 4th...or 8th. This game is interesting in that the Thunder are laying more points than they did against the Clippers, and that doesn't seem quite right. The Sixers have actually won 2 in a row, pretty decisively might I add, and I just don't think they're going to be the pushovers everyone seems to think. Young teams playing with confidence are dangerous to fade, and the Sixers are clearly a value play. But can they cover? I think that, given the situation, you have to at least give a look to the home team, and I figure we'll see a pretty goodly home/road split of money on this one, as well. I lean to the Sixers by a nose. The total of 195 is spot on, I believe. The Sixers haven't been playing all that fast, but they've been making shots, and if the Thunder play defense, this one could just barely sneak Under.

Clippers @ Bucks - Milwaukee by 10 with a total of 193. The Clippers are the worst team in the NBA again, somehow. It just boggles my mind that a team with Baron Davis (or some strange doppelganger that can't play basketball in Baron's body), Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and a host of competent backups (Drew Gooden, Rasual Butler, Craig Smith) still can't beat anyone, and can't even stay close to most teams. Somehow, though, one of the few games that saw the Clippers give a decent effort was a home game against these very Bucks. Milwaukee's been struggling a tad, so for them to be laying 10 points right now is a little suspect, and honestly, I don't like either club. Milwaukee isn't beating anyone by double digits right now, and the Clippers aren't really hanging tough most nights. Feels like a coin-flip, though the Bucks do have a game in Cleveland tomorrow, and might want to use that one as a proving ground. Still, we talked already in this blog about how much weight a look-ahead really carries at this stage of the year, and it's not as much. I suppose you have to like getting 10 points when the home team isn't in a good situational spot, so teeny tiny lean to the Clippers. The total seems too high, to me. the Clippers beat the Bucks 101-93 in LA, shooting 53% at home. Clippers won't shoot 53% again, and while the Bucks might shoot a bit better, this one should stay in the 180's. Lean to the Under.

Suns @ Bulls - Phoenix by 3.5 with a total of 217.5. I know this sounds nuts, but the Bulls actually match up pretty well with the Suns, but oddsmakers don't have a strong feel for Chicago lately, I believe. The mere fact that we saw the Bulls as 2-point dogs in Detroit was proof enough that the books have no clue what to expect from them. That game was a back-to-back, which obviously played a role, but for Phoenix, one of the best teams in the West, to only be laying 3.5 points in Chicago is going to draw an absolute ton of attention. Is this a particularly good or bad spot for either team? Not really. The Suns play in Jersey tomorrow, and Chicago has a couple days off before a game in Washington. We know the Bulls are playing for their lives, but the Suns would seem to want these games pretty badly, too. I think we get two highly motivated teams, and I'd love to say I have confidence the Bulls get it done, and while they have beat the Suns once already this year, I have no lean on the side...yet. The total of 217.5 is pretty accurate, I believe, since both teams could get to 110, but if either club has an off-night, this one stays under. Coin-flip, so I'd advocate waiting and seeing if we get some value over the course of the day. As of now, I would err just slightly to the Under, since teams that are normally running like crazy are slowing things up just a bit.

Wizards @ Rockets - This line is OFF. I don't think either team really wants to be involved in this one, and that means that my first thought is to look at the total. So, let's flip things around, and check out totals numbers first. The Rockets are coming off a high-scoring game with the Lakers, as LA just made everything from the field, and Houston actually came out firing in the second half in sort of a last-ditch effort to make themselves feel better. I honestly let out a little laugh when I took a look at how these teams have been doing, especially straight up. Washington is zero for March, and in jeopardy of going winless over an entire month (currently 0-15). The Rockets have lost 4 straight, and they should prove to be a marginal favorite in this one. Do the Wizards have the gusto to actually compete this close to the end of the season? There has been word of some turmoil brewing between budding star Andray Blatche and coach Saunders, and that might partially explain why a team playing such awful basketball can't even find their way into a back door cover, lately. But hey, no team likes to lose, and I wonder if we don't get a relatively strong effort from Washington, secure in their lottery position. The Rockets' best interest right now is to lose games, and with a more interesting game with San Antonio coming up tomorrow, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rockets take a night off. Lean to Washington on the side. This total might be a bit inflated from the Rockets high scoring game with the Lakers, but Washington can't score, and they prefer a slower game. I think we'll get some value on the Under, assuming the line doesn't come out too low to begin with.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back to Normal Size Blog

Yesterday started strong, and ended...

The Paid Play on the Heat-Raptors Under went through a few stretches where it looked a little suspect, but for the most part the game was played at a nice slow tempo like we expected, and we just needed one cold quarter from Toronto to seal the deal.

The first Free Play on the Suns-Wolves Under was in the money pretty much the whole way through, and despite a fairly high-scoring final quarter, we cashed.

The second Free Play on the Warriors-Clippers Over somehow didn't make it to 228 total points -- oh yeah, it's because the Clippers shot 38%. They still hit 224, and the Clippers didn't even play for about 16 minutes. Really a shame because in most circumstances, I think we get that one. Still, it was the smallest of our plays (as noted in the game's writeup), so it didn't hurt too bad.

The Prop Bet on Nene staying Under 21.5 points and rebounds wasn't an "easy" winner, but once we got into the final 2-3 minutes with Nene stuck at 17 combined "tallies", that took the pressure off. That win wipes the sour taste of Caron Butler's short night on Saturday out of our mouths, and moved Props to a borderline silly 20-5 run.

Shorter card today, and I'll be looking at totals again first, so let's get down to bees-knees.

Sports Wagering

Raptors @ Bobcats - Charlotte by 8 with a total of 195.5. Toronto is starting to get itself a few covers here and there, but this team remains in a pretty miserable spiral, and Chicago is clawing its way awfully close to final playoff spot. And for Toronto, they outplayed Miami for 3 quarters yesterday, but then gave it away with a disjointed and ugly 4th, while the Heat played outstanding defense, and really, Toronto just finally missed a few outside jumpers. Interesting, I've only had two "huge" plays this entire NBA season, and the last time Toronto came to Charlotte, way back in early November before even going Pro, I had what I guess you might call a "Biggest Play" on Charlotte, and they beat Toronto by 35. This time around, Toronto is coming off that heartbreaking loss in Miami last night, and while the idea of "needing" this game probably means Toronto has a motivational edge, I just still can't trust them on the road. Toronto had actually been one of the best teams in the NBA against Miami, and they couldn't sustain the solid play for 4 full quarters when rested, so how are they going to do it on a back-to-back? We all know about Toronto's pedestrian 4-13 ATS record on back-to-back games, so it's tough to see them really getting amped and being able to sustain it. My guess is that this game plays out the way so many others have featuring a team off a tough loss. Toronto comes out very slow, has a run in them in the 3rd, then runs out of gas for real late. Charlotte is coming off 3 pretty easy games with Washington and Minnesota, so I expect them to be well-prepared and come out strong. Lean to Charlotte. Toronto gives up a ton of points on the back-to-back, but I'm just not sure Charlotte takes advantage - they know a slow game is their bread and butter, and I happen to think this one gets played exactly the same as yesterday's - SLIGHT lean to the Under.

Spurs @ Nets - San Antonio by 8.5 with a total of 193. This is a trademark letdown spot for the Spurs, coming off a huge game with Boston, and a well-played game with Boston that marks something of a respite between hotly contested games. Again, Spurs have played against the Hawks, Thunder, Lakers, Cavs and Celtics before this one with Jersey. Then they go back to the Rockets, Magic and Lakers again. If you want to talk about a "Sandwich Game", this has to be the example. We know Duncan's legs don't hold up well on back-to-back, and we know the Spurs try to slow things down when they're feeling sleepy. Is this one of those games where the Nets feel like they have a good shot to remove themselves from infamy? It seems like the Nets have a few games on their schedule circled as potential winners, and knowing the Spurs are playing on no rest and coming off a game against the rough-n-tough Celtics, I have to think we get New Jersey's best effort. Yes, the Spurs are playing some decent basketball, winning, basically, every other game against some of the best teams in the League, and if they can get through this gauntlet near .500, I'm sure they'll be pleased, since the rest of the way won't be as tough. The Spurs are an even 7-7 ATS on back-to-backs, but 4-9 O/U, so we know that trend, and Jersey seems to be willing to play at whatever tempo the opponent dictates. I lean to Jersey, though they're not inspiring all kinds of confidence. I also lean to the Under, since Jersey has no identity, so we'll go with the Spurs' flavor to control the game.

Lakers @ Hornets - Los Angeles by 5.5 with a total of 201.5. This is a bit of an odd game, since I wonder if this is one of those spots where Chris Paul wakes up and tries to make an impact. So far this year the Hornets have been spanked twice in Los Angeles (though they did cover in the second meeting as 15-point underdogs), but now they get LA at home. The Lakers are coming off a pretty easy win over the Rockets, where the subs made things a little interesting, but Houston never really had a chance. I'm a little torn on whether the Lakers are in playoff tune-up mode, or whether they're just playing out the next few, trying to get some key guys a little more rest than usual, and that makes it very tough to wager on a Lakers side. I get the feeling the Hornets are going to want to put on a show in front of the fans, that, while New Orleans is indeed out of the playoff picture, will want to come out and see a Kobe versus CP3 duel, and it might very well turn out to be a fun one. The Hornets still aren't playing much in the way of defense, but the Lakers haven't really been all that set on running lately, either. This one is all kinds of crazy, and while I could potentially try to squeeze some sort of lean out of this one, neither team is in a particularly good or bad spot, so I'd advise avoiding the side. The total of 201.5 looks pretty high, if indeed the Lakers try to play some defense. I have a microscopic lean to the Under, but again, be very, very careful with this game in particular.

Nuggets @ Mavericks - Dallas by 5 with a total of 211. Dallas comes home off a 1-1 quickie road trip through Portland and Golden State, and riding a little wave of momentum courtesy of Rodrigue Beaubois. But this game isn't going to be the cake-walk that the contest with the Warriors was. Denver is a quality team, and they're coming to town off a tough loss in Orlando yesterday. Make no mistake, too - Denver is struggling a bit right now. They've not-so-quietly lost 4 of 5 games, including one last night and they've really never looked all that reliable on back-to-back games. That would be a pretty good explanation for why the can't-win-at-home Mavericks are laying 5 points to the high-flying Nuggets. This is also the last game of a 5-game road trip for the Nuggets before they head home to host the division rival Portland Trailblazers, and this is also their 5th game in 7 days. I was wondering if the game with Orlando would be the contest to wake them up, but it didn't seem to be. Can we trust Dallas at home? It's questionable, but in this particular spot, I have to lean in their direction. Denver killed Dallas the last time they met, too, so I think Dallas is going to come ready to prove something, and try to get some of that home court moxie going as we near the playoffs. Lean to Dallas. The total of 211 is monstrous, but Dallas's defense hasn't been all that impressive lately, either. I happen to think this one is pretty close to spot on, though we might stay Under by a bucket or two.

Knicks @ Jazz - Utah by 11.5 with a total of 213.5. Situationally, this game favors the Knicks. Motivationally, it favors the Jazz. When you add it all together, it basically comes out as a no-play. Let's take a closer peek, but I don't think anything we find is going to change that. The Knicks are coming off a hideous loss in Phoenix, so the value is probably on their side. Utah is coming off a road clubbing of the Wizards, and is set to play their first game at home after a 3-game road trip. Not a true sluggish spot, but partially there. They host the Warriors next, so it's not a look-ahead, but these two home games are sort of "gimmies" for the Jazz, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them try to coast through before heading to LA to face the Lakers. The Knicks are on the second game of a long road trip, and we've talked quite a bit about how tough it is for teams with nothing to play for to head out on a long roadie at this stage of the season. This game is just too volatile, in my opinion, to warrant a play on the side. A lot of games are too volatile at this stage of the season, really. As far as the total goes, I'm not 100% sure what the Knicks are trying to do these days. They seem to alternate struggling to crack 95, then 110. Is it worth taking a chance that they lay an egg and bet the over? Is it worth taking a chance that they come out firing and bet the over? This one is a wash, as far as I'm concerned. If I had to really make any kind of call on the game, I guess I'd say Jazz to squeeze out a cover and stay slightly Under, but those are only to be used in extremely dire circumstances.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Weekend Short Blog #4

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I just wanted to take a moment to give a powerful "THANK YOU!" to all the guys that continue to show faith in my plays even in a bit of a colder spell, and even if it's the result of blog-related success, your support means a TON to this aspiring new Pro here at Pregame, and I just hope I can continue to GIVE BACK as much as you guys give to me -- with blogs, podcasts, prop bets, advice, and anything else I can provide. So, again, thank you, because without you guys, there would be no Pregame, and no Dan Bebe.

Now, the stuff that makes Dan Bebe angry.

Our last few picks on sides have just been BRUTAL, and I really felt we had a good situational spot for the underdog last night, but sadly, it was just not meant to be, as Rodrigue Beaubois added himself to my "dead to me" list by singlehandedly ruining the Warriors play AND the Caron Butler prop bet. Very frustrating. Beaubois tied the opponent record with NINE three-pointers, scored 40 points, and effectively made an "under" bet on any other Mav a great proposition. That little son of a...

The plan for today is to definitely look at TOTALS before all else, because those have been going extremely well, despite the admitted struggles on side plays. Non Premium and Premium totals are a combined 5-2 this week, and sides are, well, not.

But anger aside, and unfortunately the tone of the blog strongly reflects how the Top Play went (since I write this blog the night before), while this week was just slightly in the negative, it's not a stretch to say that I haven't been happy with the way things have gone over the last 15 days or so. Let's get this sucker turned around PERMANENTLY. We're not getting killed, not by a longshot, but we're not doing any bookie-crushing, and I intend to change that, starting NOW.

Sports Wagering

Kings @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 13.5 with a total of 197.5. No real lean on the side, as neither team is in a good or bad spot, and this is a ton of points, so I suppose you have to at least give a look to the dog. I like the Under on the total - the Kings continue to struggle to score without Tyreke Evans, and the Cavs' defense isn't going to make life any easier.

Grizzlies @ Bucks - This line is OFF. Most likely because of Bogut. Milwaukee has lost 2 straight, so they're slumping, but a few wins would secure them the 5th spot in the East, and the Grizzlies are basically done for the year. SLIGHT lean to Milwaukee, but not much. Seems like off that ugly game with Miami, the Bucks are going to want to score a few points, so I have a slight lean to the Over, if the line is reasonable.

Pacers @ Hawks - Atlanta by 8 with a total of 207. Obviously, I'm not happy with Atlanta coming off a loss, but with the Lakers coming to town, this is a slight look-ahead spot for the Hawks, and a low spread indicates oddsmakers feel the same. Slight lean to Indiana. The total looks low, but I think it's pretty accurate - if I had to guess, I'd think this one ends at about 209, so the TINIEST lean to the Over.

Raptors @ Heat - This line is OFF. The Heat are actually playing great basketball right now, especially on defense - the Raptors keep getting burned, and they stink on the road. Lean to Miami. Toronto has been struggling to score, but they have dictated the tempo in the 3 previous games with the Heat, somehow. I don't think Miami lets this one turn into a running game, and I lean Under.

Bulls @ Pistons - Detroit by 2 with a total of 198.5. This line is basically saying Chicago has given up on the season, hasn't it? I know they're on back-to-back, but Chicago is in must-win spots, and Detroit is "white flag" mode on 2010. I have to lean Chicago, even though it looks nuts. I'll be honest, on the total, I have no idea what tempo the Pistons are looking to play at right now. No lean on the totals.

Nuggets @ Magic - Orlando by 5.5 with a total of 208.5. Something tells me the Magic win this one, and the final margin is within 1.5 points of the spread; it's not how this one handicaps out, but it's a gut-check type of play. Denver needs to get its head out of its rectum, though, because the Magic have the talent to run all over the Nuggets if Denver keeps trying to run isolation plays. Slight lean to the Magic, and medium lean to the Under, since we know how Denver's been scuffling on offense, and we know how the Magic like to handle big games.

Blazers @ Thunder - Oklahoma by 4.5 with a total of 191.5. The Thunder are coming off a ruthless beating of the Lakers, and I happen to think they're overvalued - lean to Portland to give them all they can handle. Lean to the Blazers. These teams have played great defense against each other this season, so far - the law of averages would seem to indicate a higher scoring game, and Portland tends to run a bit more on back-to-back. Tiny lean to the Over right now, but that could change with new info, so stay tuned on this one.

Suns @ Wolves - Phoenix by 9 with a total of 227.5. Phoenix beat Minnesota by 38 in that crazy 266-point game 2 weeks ago. The Wolves have looked pretty bad lately, and without any good reason to back them, I think you have to start with the road favorite at this time of the season. Microscopic lean to the Suns. The total could very well be higher after the 266 points, but it's not - look for Phoenix to "d-up" a little - lean to the Under.

Spurs @ Celtics - Boston by 3.5 with a total of 192. I'm floored at how little this spread is, but I happen to think it's just a soft line. Boston is a decent value, playing great ball at home, and I know it's obvious, but at this time of the season, the obvious plays are winning pretty consistently. Lean to Boston. The total of 192 is pretty accurate, but I think Boston really locks down in a strong effort - lean to the Under.

Warriors @ Clippers - LA by 5 with a total of 230. Clippers don't even want to be playing any more, but off the horrific loss to Dallas, the Warriors are going to be pissed and set to take out some aggression. Lean to Golden State. The total of 230 seems awfully high considering the Clippers pathetic offense, but something about this number makes me think oddsmakers believe the Clips are going to get sucked into a streetball game, with nothing on the line. Lean to the Over.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekend Short Blog #3

Welcome back to the short weekend blogs, home of the World Famous LEANTRACKER!

Haha, but I kid.

Last night went pretty well, all things considered. I'm sure a few folks got on the Paid Play and took a loss, but the TWO Free Plays BOTH hit, so we actually went 2-1 on Premium Selections, and also picked up ANOTHER winner on the Prop Bets, which are turning out to be a furious money-maker. Full disclosure: I started putting a tiny bit more than a quarter unit on those Props, so yesterday brought a smile back to Bebe's mug.

Totals have really turned out to be quite profitable this week, and while we've laid a full-on egg on side bets, Premium Totals plays are a solid 4-2 this week, and we also hit a Non-Premium Late Release Total, as well. Today's Top Play might be a side, courtesy of the short card and the back-to-backs, but let's check things out and see where the lines take us!

Sports Wagering

Jazz @ Wizards - Utah by 9 with a total of 196.5. Washington is playing a 4th in 5 nights, and haven't been good on back-to-backs. Utah off an ugly loss in Indiana; I lean to the big road favorites. Utah might drop 110 on the Wizards - can Washington break 85? I think I have to wait to determine a lean here just because I can't see Washington shooting well two nights in a row.

Blazers @ Hornets - Portland by 2.5 with a total of 194. Portland is knocking at the door of getting out of playing the Lakers, slight lean to Blazers, though the value isn't great. Lean to the Under on the total - with Chris Paul back, Hornets aren't going to try to go breakneck speed any more. Or at least they shouldn't.

Nets @ Bulls - Chicago by 10 with a total of 194.5. The Nets are on an offensive roll, but I don't like either side in this one, since I still haven't made up my mind on whether Chicago's set to mail it in the rest of the way. No lean on the side. The Nets shot 58% against the Pistons last night in a ridiculously high scoring affair, and I strongly believe that this total jumps UP as a result of that inflation. Then I'd lean just slightly to the Under.

Lakers @ Rockets - This line is OFF. This is an ugly time to be a Rocket. The Lakers got murdered by the Thunder last night, and are actually going to be a decent value, courtesy of the back-to-back. I know Houston likes playing LA, but they're also in "Lottery Freefall" mode, so I lean Lakers (especially with no Battier to guard Kobe). I also happen to believe the Rockets struggle to score, and I'd lean Under, but it's tough to know for sure before we see where the books bring this one out.

Mavericks @ Warriors - Dallas by 4 with a total 234.5. I happen to think this side is pretty accurate, coin-flip spot, but I love backing the Warriors at home, so they get the slight nod. Dallas is just the kind of team that can get sucked into a score-fest, and this total is high for a reason. Lean to the Over.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Totals Time

Laughable effort from the Bulls. Screw 'em. We're likely going to head back into the realm of totals, which seem to be much more predictable at this late point in the season.

Also, huge card today, but with the focus largely on NCAA, we'll keep the write-ups "brief", most list-like, and more concise. Then, back into the weekend, which will be leans ONLY.

Sports Wagering

Wolves @ Magic - Orlando by 15 with a total of 209. Unless there's a supremely obvious reason to take one side or the other in a game with a spread this high, the side is going to be a pass. Here, we have Orlando on the first game home off a 3-game road trip that ended with a tip-slam loss in Atlanta, and a potential look-ahead to a game coming up with Denver, but at the same time, the Wolves can't be trusted to compete. Gun to my head, I'd take the visitors, since situationally, they're in a slightly better spot, but again, nearly impossible choice here. On the total, I lean slightly to the Under, since the Magic have been ultra-focused defensively whether they're overlooking a team, or not. They've allowed over 100 points to an opponent just once in a non-overtime game this month, so it's going to be tough to hit 209 if the Wolves can't break 100.

Jazz @ Pacers - Utah by 5 with a total of 210.5. Wouldn't think these two teams would BOTH be red hot right now, but that's where we are. I wouldn't recommend a play on the side, since both teams are equally hot, though again, if you put a gun to my head, I'd say take the really hot team getting points. We all know, though, how quickly the Jazz can stomp you into submission. Pacers have won 4 straight, covered 7 straight, and are actually playing some defense, but Utah is basically unstoppable, so you have to try to keep up. That's what makes the total so tough to determine, as well. These teams faced off in December with a posted mark right around 210, and both clubs shot the ball terribly; if they shoot better, this one could go Over, so I'll offer a tiny, tiny lean that way.

Nuggets @ Raptors - Denver by 5 with a total of 217. We had two red-hot teams in the game above, and here we have two ice-cold squads, with the Nuggets losing 3 straight, and the Raptors losing by 26 on their home court. The Nuggets lost by 14 in Boston, and have failed to cover 6 straight games. So, did Denver bottom out against the Celtics, or did Toronto bottom out against Utah? Or, conversely, are both teams just struggling, and there's no bottoming out on the radar? Once again, I'd say it's a dicey proposition to try to pick the team that's stinking less, so I'd again recommend passing on the side, but if you absolutely must squeeze a lean out, I suppose you'd again have to take the lesser of two evils - that is, the evil that's getting points - tiny lean to Toronto. The total is interesting, since Toronto has been having issues scoring against, well, anything that can move on defense, and Denver's offense has been slow and hugely based on iso plays. I like the Under.

Hawks @ Sixers - This line is OFF. This one is interesting because the Hawks just clinched a playoff berth, so you have to wonder if they celebrated and are going to be sluggish in this one, or if they think they've got a legitimate shot at shuffling their position in the playoff standings. You've got to think that if ever there were a game where Atlanta might be in a letdown spot, this would be the one, but can we truly trust the Sixers to get the job done on the other side? Neither team is really in a look-ahead spot, so the only true situational angle is Atlanta's playoff situation, and for that reason, and because Philly is coming off a strong effort in Milwaukee, I think they should a little moxie and get it done. Lean to Sixers. I'm expecting a total near 200, and I like the Over, since I can't imagine Atlanta bringing the heat on defense, and we know both teams have great athleticism if they choose to use it.

Wizards @ Bobcats - Charlotte by 10.5 with a total of 181. This is a rematch of a game we saw a couple days ago that the Bobcats won going away in overtime, but still had a total of just 181 even after the 5 extra minutes. I'm very curious to see where the money comes on this game, since I feel like Washington tries to push the pace a little more this time around, realizing they're in big trouble if they try to get into another dogfight with Charlotte, when the Bobcats are playing at home. Still, oddsmakers are showing a ton of confidence in Charlotte's defense by bringing this line out SO LOW. No leans on the total here until we see the initial move, since I feel like public perception is going to dictate quite a bit. But, like I said, I think we see a little more movement early, and again a very slow second half. This total might actually be spot on th nose. As far as the side goes, I think Washington poured their heart out when these teams squared off in our nation's capital, and I think that might have been all they had in the tank. I lean to Charlotte to win in blowout fashion.

Kings @ Celtics - This line is OFF. This one could go one of two ways. The Kings could lay down, which to me seems like the more probable, or the Celtics could have a slight letdown off the game with Denver. I don't think it's the right time of year for Boston to suffer a lapse in focus. They are rolling at home, and this one could very well be a 25-point win when all is said and done. Sacramento is a young team headed for the lottery and missing their superstar, Tyreke Evans. They're also on a strangely scheduled 5-game road trip that nearly ends their season. These guys aren't focused, and they don't care. They couldn't beat Boston with their best effort at home, and the Kings are on the metaphorical tracks with the train coming through. Beware the teams tuning up for the playoffs right now, and Boston is one of those clubs building confidence heading towards the postseason. Lean to the Green. The total should go Under, as I love playing Sactown Unders right now - they struggle to score on the break without Evans, and Boston should be able to really clamp down on the other guys.

Lakers @ Thunder - Pick with a total of 199. The way the Lakers played that second half in San Antonio was SCARY. This is not a team I'm going to advocate fading right now. It looks like the Zen Master has gotten into his team's head and is starting to tune up for the playoffs, and what better way than to play some staunch defense against some teams they might very well meet in the playoffs? The Lakers made the Spurs look absolutely silly in San Antonio, and while the Thunder historically play the Lakers pretty darn tough, I still don't think you can underestimate LA right now. I don't necessarily think they run away with it, since Kevin Durant is basically unguardable, but the Lakers sure do have the size to make scoring very, very difficult for anyone that's not a superstar. If I had to pick a lean, I'd take Lakers. Thunder haven't seen anything this tough since the last time they played the Cavs, and while Oklahoma has some very solid wing players, I just don't see them having the size to score inside. I lean Lakers, and I lean Under.

Pistons @ Nets - Jersey by 1 with a total of 192.5. This game could very well challenge the record-books for one of the ugliest ever. Still, it's time for the Pistons to lay down. Those old farts have plenty of pride, but this season is going nowhere, and with Detroit having lost, now, 6 in a row, I think we might see some of the older guys taking nights off. The Nets, as we know, are playing with their backs against the wall of history. They don't want to be the worst team ever, and this game is definitely their most winnable the rest of the way. Much like the win over the Kings, the Nets just want this one more, and I have no reason to think Detroit brings the pain. Lean to Jersey. On the total, Jersey doesn't want to open this one up and give the Pistons a chance to enjoy themselves - they want it to be a game without rhythm where they can use Brook Lopez to win a grudge match. The two totals this season between these teams have been 190 and 191, and those games have featured surprisingly decent shooting. This one ends in the 180's thanks to the outrageously slow pace, and I lean Under.

Heat @ Bucks - Milwaukee by 5 with a total of 184.5. Miami looked scary last night, but no team is ever as good as their best game, and no team is ever as bad as their worst game, which Milwaukee might have played the last time out. Still, Miami is just 6-9 ATS on back-to-back spots, and getting 5 points basically means these teams are ranked as equals. I'm not sure I agree with that. Milwaukee has dominated Miami this season in all 3 meetings, and Miami has shot 37, 36 and 36 percent in the previous 3 games. Not surprisingly, all 3 of those games have gone under the posted total. The Heat don't play defense quite as well on back-to-backs, but they score worse, as well, so they're actually an under team when fatigued, believe it or not. Still, it's tough to see them playing as awfully against Milwaukee a 4th time as they did the previous 3. I'm torn on this side. I think I have to lean Milwaukee, since there's just no way Miami can duplicate the beating they laid on Chicago last night, and Milwaukee really seems to understand how Miami works. On the total, these games have been played at an outrageously ugly tempo, and they've been ending in the 170's pretty consistently. I think Miami brings a little better action on the offensive end, but once again I'm curious to see which side this line draws money on before I make an official lean.

Cavs @ Spurs - This line is OFF. The Spurs just looked so awful against the Lakers, I can't see them looking a whole lot better against an equally tough defensive team. Hell, the Spurs lost to the Cavs when Cleveland was without half their roster. I know San Antonio probably wants this one more, but that argument did us no good in the Spurs' last game. Bottom line, the Spurs just have to be exhausted from this stretch of ridiculous competition. They have one more tough game after this one, then finally a short respite, but man did Tim Duncan look completely worn out in the last one. I can't trust the Spurs to really compete when they're this tuckered out - I lean Cavs to cover, barely, whatever line we get -- I'm thinking close to a Pick, maybe Cavs by a point. On the total, I'm looking at the Under. It's clear the Spurs have no desire to play at a quick tempo right now, and the Cavs would annihilate the Spurs in a fast game, so we'll likely see a final score in the high 180's.

Knicks @ Suns - Phoenix by 11 with a total of 224. Oh, this is a fun one. Mike D'Antoni's Knicks versus, well, let's be honest, Mike D'Antoni's Suns. There's no secret, here. D'Antoni knows how the Suns want to play, and he knows the best way to defend it, and the Knicks beat the crap out of Phoenix earlier this year on the East coast. The Knicks are playing competitive basketball, but we know how tough it can be to head out on the road this late in the season. Still, I'm a little surprised to see the Knicks getting 11 points against a team that really only blows out the worst few teams in the League (see: Clippers, Wolves). Situationally, this game probably favors the Suns, since you know the Knicks are ready to pack it in, and want no part of going on the road, but from a schematic standpoint, the Knicks have a huge edge. The Suns haven't changed much under Alvin Gentry, other than using guys like Robin Lopez a bit more than previously, and if anyone knows Steve Nash's weaknesses, it's his former coach. I expect to see the Knicks play a very strong game, and though I think the Suns ultimately win, I think they do so by 7-8 points. I lean Knicks. I also lean to the Under - this total is inflated, and unless the Knicks go absolutely nuts with the tempo, this one should stay in the 220 range.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Little Sally Duncan

Won't make any bones about it, we got CREAMED on our Spurs play as San Antonio was dominated so thoroughly in the second half, I'm pretty sure Tim Duncan just put himself in line for the next available scrotal implant - those bad boys are feeling a little small right now.

No bad beats yesterday, just total domination by the Lakers, and we were on the Spurs when everyone besides Ginobili seemed to be content just waiting for the next opponent.

We did manage to coast to an easy Non-Premium pair of winners on a Gerald Wallace "Over" Prop Bet, and the New Jersey/Sactown Under, so that stemmed the tide a bit on the Spurs loss, but the one that mattered was the one in the toilet, and I'll definitely be the first to admit it was not the right side.

I realize it's tournament time over in College ball, so I don't expect a ton of NBA action today, especially with only 3 games, but the blog will be here just the same!

Sports Wagering

Heat @ Bulls - Chicago by 1 with a total of 189.5. First thing that jumps out at me is that this game is actually pretty huge. A win by the Bulls could pull them back into the East's true playoff picture, especially with Toronto currently getting whipped by the Jazz. Obviously, long way to go in that game, but as I write this, the Bulls are far from eliminated, and they seem to have gotten some of their tenacity back. Joakim Noah is back, but not fully there, but the key note is that Derrick Rose is playing like a man possessed. Each team has won their home games in this series so far, and I'm not seeing anything to make me think that's going to change. We know who is going to play on the Chicago side, Jermaine O'Neal is questionable for Miami, and it's going to have to be an awful lot from Dwyane Wade if the Heat are going to win this game. Interestingly, the Heat hosted the Bulls 2 weeks ago, when Chicago was spiraling and playing without most of their key pieces. The Bulls weren't defending, they were trying to get out on the break and win games with easy buckets, and it wasn't working. Now, they're back to defending, and this is a game of two teams that both play a particularly swarming style of defense, and I don't think it's any coincidence that the total of the meeting 2 weeks ago was set at 191.5, went over by 12 points, and now this one opens up 2 points lower. I think Chicago plays outstanding defense, making life miserable for the Heat, and I think the first team to 90 wins. Leans to Bulls and Under.

Clippers @ Rockets - Houston by 6.5 with a total of 208. Here's a completely uninteresting game - a Clippers team that mailed it in about 3 weeks ago, and a Houston team that might be about ready to call it a season, as well. When you have a game with BOTH teams uninterested, you're left between the old rock and hard place. Do you put yourself on the line and try to pick a side? I would say that the wise man would absolutely not. In fact, I know it's just a 3-game card, and skipping a game would seem like heresy, but I'm not even going to break the side down on this game. That's how badly I want you guys to avoid it. The total, however, is interesting, if only because we have two teams that don't give a crap. Do they just run layup drills all night, or completely lack focus, miss their cuts, clank jumpers and so on and so forth. Well, the Clippers have been giving up well over 100 points in almost every game over the last month, holding only the Bucks under 100 in March. Houston loves to play an up-tempo game, and though they've been having some issues scoring, I think coming home, some of the youngsters are going to want to show up and make some noise down the stretch. I think we might actually have some value on the Over here, since the line looks pretty damn high, and I think people might be scared off by each team's recent offensive struggles. Well, NBA players are good, and they can score against a team not playing any defense. Yes, even the Clippers.

Mavericks @ Blazers - Portland by 3 with a total of 192. Here are those damn dirty Mavs, looking pretty awful, at times, at home, then showing flashes of brilliance on the road...or are they? The Mavs' last road game was in New Orleans, and they completely pooped out after a decent 1st quarter. So, how much will the hostile environment known as the Rose Garden take its toll on Dallas? I'm interested to see how the Mavericks respond, considering the Blazers beat them twice, both times in Dallas, earlier this year. Is this a situation where the Blazers just match up extremely well with Dallas? That's possible, since Portland has the wing defenders that give Dirk more trouble than almost anyone else. It's funny, really, when you take a peek at those match-ups -- Dirk handles slow big men by toasting them, and can shoot over the littler, quick guys, but someone like a Batum is just the type of long, agile defender that can force Dirk into tough shots, and defend him off the dribble. Plus, Andre Miller can match Jason Kidd's strength, and Brandon Roy should be able to do whatever he wants with whoever Dallas puts on him. Dallas has not been particularly strong avenging home losses, so I don't know if we can use that stat, but at the same time, we've seen how Dallas actually seems to be a stronger team on the road. The fact that they're getting 3 points here is a testament to how much the Blazers have jumped in the power rankings, and they're equals to the Mavs now. Very intriguing. This isn't a particularly good or bad situational spot for either team, though the Mavs are probably the "value". Still, I don't trust 'em, home or road, right now, and I lean Blazers in front of the frenetic home crowd, and I have this weird gut feeling that we see some hot shooting. I think this total is close to accurate, but I have a slight lean to the Over.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ejections and Bricks

Holy crap, that was close! It shouldn't have been, though. We had the Under between Charlotte and Washington last night, and the game "ended" 19 points under the number we had. Unfortunately, the game also "ended" tied. Five extra minutes of stress for your buddy, Bebe.

When all was said and done, we STILL covered the Under despite overtime, and that's a damn good sign you've got the RIGHT SIDE, when you can hit an Under in 53 minutes of basketball. That's like spotting your kid brother 8 points in a one-on-one game to 10.

This week has brought us some winners so far, hitting 2 of 3 Paid Plays and our only Freebie for a nice little 3-1 start to the week. Let's hope that's just the beginning of the grand turnaround!

Sports Wagering

Timberwolves @ Bobcats - Charlotte by 10.5 with a total of 196.5. This is a ton of points for Charlotte to be laying on the second day of a back-to-back, and this number is going to come down because of OT last night. Still, Charlotte has shown the ability to play on back-to-back days, most likely because they rely on defense to win and not running and gunning. They don't need to hit 50% of their jumpers to take home the "W", and the question I have is whether they'll be able to cover this huge number. Charlotte is 13-5 ATS on back-to-backs, so that's a strong number in our favor, but this game just doesn't jump out at me as a good one to bet on. The Wolves appear to have just about called it quits on this season, and the road hasn't been kind to them, lately. Charlotte isn't in a look-ahead or letdown, and when we get into a game where there just aren't really any situational angles to bank on, it's probably best to skip the side. These teams played a little over a month ago, and Charlotte squeezed by Minnesota 93-92 in a game where the Bobcats clearly dictated the tempo, but again, off the overtime game last night, I just wonder if Charlotte's defensive intensity might be just one hair off from their norm. I lean to the Under again, but Minnesota definitely wants to run run run, so maybe avoiding this altogether might be the wise choice.

Jazz @ Raptors - Utah by 3 with a total of 214. This Jazz team is pretty deadly right now, and I'd be hard pressed to find a really good reason to go against them. I guess the only truly tangible reason to go against Utah would be the idea of a letdown off the Boston win at home. For Toronto, they're coming off two much-needed road wins in Jersey and Minnesota -- games they should win, and did so, even if the second one wasn't by a mighty large margin. It was just a two game trip, and to a certain degree Toronto needs this game more than Utah, but I'm just not sure it quite works that way when we're talking about two teams both headed to the playoffs. There are a ton of games being played tonight, so I'm going to try to keep the write-ups a little briefer today, and those are the main situational notes. In terms of previous games, they played in Utah back in November, and not surprisingly, the Jazz won (and covered). I wouldn't call it a revenge spot, and Utah is really like an ultra-upgraded version of Toronto, so I have no idea how the Raptors are really going to beat the Jazz - it's going to take a hell of a shooting night, which is possible, but not probable. We don't work in possibilities, I lean Jazz, but weakly. I also lean to the Over, but again, very weakly.

Nuggets @ Celtics - Boston by 4.5 with a total of 206. This line looks all kinds of crazy, to me. I realize the Nugs are slumping a bit, and are also one of the NBA's poorer teams on back-to-back spots, but are they slipping so far as to be considered a half-point favorite to the Celts on a neutral court? Also, when Boston played in Denver a little over a month ago, they were 5 point dogs, or 2-point dogs on a neutral court. So, what we're seeing is either a screwball line, or oddsmakers moving the Celtics 1.5 points in the power rankings. I guess that's not all that many, but sure seems like a goodly jump for two marquee teams that don't tend to move all that far in the rankings. I know the Nuggets, roughly a .500 team ATS on the season, are 6-10 ATS on back-to-back nights, but would books really move the line an additional 1.5 points because of that? I doubt it - they know Boston's been hotter, and the Celtics draw money like nobody's business, but I'm very curious to see how this money comes in. The Nuggets appear to be the value play, but Boston has been playing very strong ball at sea level of late, but not terribly impressive ball against the best in the League. No lean at the moment on the side, but some line movement could sway me. The total of 206 looks too high, since Denver really hasn't been playing good all-around basketball, and maybe a lean to the Under is the stronger of the plays available in this game.

Magic @ Hawks - Atlanta by 1 with a total of 195.5. Here's another line that leaves me a little confused. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised to see the Hawks laying a point against one of the best teams in the NBA, but I suppose it's pretty close to fair, and just LOOKS odd. Still, they could have easily brought this line out differently, given the way the season series has gone this year. Atlanta has been absolutely killed in all 3 games with Orlando to this point, although two of those came on the second half of a back-to-back after beating Boston the night before. The first meeting, the one in Atlanta, was off 4 days of rest, so Atlanta has just been steamrolled no matter the situation. I find it very hard to believe the Magic are getting a point in a game against a team they've beaten so senselessly so far this season. And I'd say it's a sucker bet, but Indiana has beaten Detroit all 3 times before last night, and they were getting 4 points on the road (and, as I type this, they're up 11 on the Pistons), so it's just tough to know if this line is really that bad, or if the Hawks are magically in some situational spot that I'm not seeing. I'd love nothing more than to back Atlanta on triple revenge, but the manner in which they've lost the previous 3 games doesn't give me a ton of confidence. This might be another game to watch some line movement, because right now I'm grasping at reasons to like the Hawks, and not finding enough yet. That total of 195.5 is probably about where it should be, but I feel like we got a very strong offensive effort from Atlanta in this one, and I lean just slightly to the Over.

Wizards @ Pacers - Indiana by 6 with a total of 200. This is another line that's going to move before the morning comes, so if you want to try to set up a nice little overtime-related-middle, take the Pacers at -6, and take the Wiz tomorrow right before tip, since this line will probably continue to move throughout the day, assuming folks bet the Pacers like it seems they will. Indiana has been rolling, though, so if you're actually looking to make a true play on this game and not middle it, be careful with the Wizards. The Pacers have covered 6 straight, 9 of 10, and they've actually won 3 straight games. Took them long enough, right? Way back in October, I thought the Pacers were going to be a bit of a sleeper team, but they've just stunk, and now all of a sudden they're undervalued and actually winning games and playing some small amounts of defense. Indiana has beaten Washington twice this season, covering both as well. I don't know about trusting the Pacers to cover 7 or 8 points at home, which is probably where this line is headed, and I hate to do this again, but let's wait and see where this side heads. Pacers might be able to win by double digits if Washington plays as tired as you'd expect. The Wizards haven't been good on back-to-backs, so I guess we will wait the line out, and see if a play on the Pacers ever gets juicy enough to grab our interest. That total looks awfully high for a Washington team that couldn't even break 86 in overtime last night, and a Pacers team that actually showed signs of life on defense last night. Indiana also plays to the Under on back-to-back games, since they just don't like to run quite as much, and get bogged down more often on offense. I lean Under.

Kings @ Nets - Sacramento by 1.5 with a total of 196. Jersey looks like they're just about done for the season, but I'm not sure I can get behind the Kings without Tyreke Evans. I know they've been playing better, and in all likelihood the Kings still have enough offensive firepower to dispose of the lowly Nets, but with Boston on the horizon and being forced to fly cross-country to open the season's final long road trip, I just don't know if either team shows any sort of spunk in this game. This total is pretty high for two teams either unable to score (Jersey) or missing their most important offensive piece (Sacramento). The loss of Evans, in my opinion, makes the Under doubly enticing, since his replacement in the starting lineup is the defensive-minded Francisco Garcia, so it's not only an offensive downgrade, but a defensive upgrade. I loathe the side - this line isn't big enough to make Jersey look good to me, but also requires Sacramento to be focused and actually give a crap about winning these end-of-the-season road games. This one isn't a "wait and see" on the side, this one is a true recommended PASS. On the total, we already discussed the injury situation - on top of that, Jersey has been mired in a pretty ugly offensive slump - I lean Under.

Rockets @ Thunder - Oklahoma by 7 with a total of 206. Sometimes you get a play in your mind, and you want to try to find a way to pull the trigger on it, but you just know it's not perfectly wise. That, again, is the case here. On the one side we have the Thunder, slumping somewhat in losing 3 of their last 4 games, but playing their second game back home off a tough road trip, and with the Lakers coming to town in 2 days. That's a TON of angles, and they mostly balance out, in my opinion. On the other side, the Rockets finishing up a short 3-game road trip, and coming off a loss in Chicago on the back-to-back, a spot they've been absolutely terrible in this year. They also lost Shane Battier for a little while, and I just wonder if they have any gas left in the tank, since the recent wins by the Blazers and Spurs have all but eliminated the Rockets from playoff contention. Do we want to take the chance that the Rockets are done and make a play on the Thunder to blow them out? Houston has won all 3 games with Oklahoma this season, so that's certainly a point of concern. Do we want to hope that the Rockets still care about this season, play on them, and hope the Thunder are in a little bit of a look-ahead spot with Kobe on the horizon? Too many angles, if you ask me. I can't help but think the Rockets own the Thunder right now, so if forced to make a play, I'd lean Houston, but they could have given up and we won't know until that ball tips. The total of 206 is higher than any game these teams played yet this season, so I have to think oddsmakers have something up their sleeve, but I'm just not sure. I guess tiny lean to the Over, but I'd think skipping this total might be smarter.

Sixers @ Bucks - This line is OFF. You want to talk about a team that has just about given the finger to this season, that's the Sixers. They bailed on this year right around the All Star Break, and it's been a complete mess there ever since. Specifically they've won 4 games since the Break, and lost 15, and the ATS record hasn't been much better, at 6-13. It's tough to get points on most nights and still cover just 6 times. Of course, they've been a better bet on the road than at home, so it's certainly not a sure fade, but in terms of teams on a mission, Milwaukee appears to be that team. They managed to hang on against the Hawks in their first game back home off a successful West coast road trip, and that's not easy, and now, in their second game home, they get a Philly team ripe for the picking. The Bucks are pretty firmly in 5th place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, so I don't know that this game is a must-win or anything of that sort, but if they can beat the bad teams down the stretch, Milwaukee will get to face Atlanta in the first round, and that's a much more enviable spot than drawing the Celtics, Magic or Cavs. I fear the Sixers might be getting 8 or 9 points here, which is not easy to cover, but if anyone can do it right now, it's Milwaukee, even though a lot of their recent wins have been by single digits. This isn't a strong lean either, but I don't see how anyone can back the Sixers right now - lean to Milwaukee. I like the Under without even seeing the total - the Sixers aren't scoring, and they're playing a slower game than usual. Additionally, Milwaukee has been really forcing teams into a half-court game, feeling that they can simply out-execute opponents.

Cavaliers @ Hornets - Cleveland by 6 with a total of 202. Well, we saw the Hornets come out and just stomp on the Mavericks in their last game, and Chris Paul didn't even have to do much. It just seemed like a team that had given up on the season got a second wind and felt like, hell, maybe we should play and try to have some fun. I don't think New Orleans is going to be playing a ton of defense, but they shot the crap out of the ball, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them shoot it well for the next few games. Wisely, they didn't throw Chris Paul back into the mix for 40 minutes and hope for the best, he got worked in slowly, got some time to get acclimated, and got some nice run alongside up-and-coming guards Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton. The Hornets, as usual, seem to have a promising future, but didn't really amount to much this year. I like the heart they showed with Paul coming back, and it makes me think if there's any bad team worth backing today, it's probably the Hornets. Doesn't mean I like them - the Cavs have been known to open up a 12-point lead in the final minute of a game, and the Hornets did surprise Cleveland by hanging tough on the road, so I don't know that Lebron is going to look past this team, so it's a tough one again. All that being said, I lean Hornets - this line is right about where it should be, though. I like the Over on the total - I'm not convinced the Cavs want to really crush teams with the season all but wrapped up, and I feel like Paul has inspired his team to make some buckets. Still, this is another of my weaker leans.

Lakers @ Spurs - San Antonio by 1 with a total of 196.5. Tough set of games for San Antonio: at Miami, at Orlando, vs GS (that was the easy one), at Atlanta, at Oklahoma, home for the Lakers, home for the Cavs, and then at Boston after that one. Impressively, without Tony Parker, the Spurs have gone 3-2 over the first 5 games of this painstaking stretch, and I'm sure would be elated with 2 more wins, and probably content with 1 more. This line is interesting, seeing the Spurs favored over the Lakers with both teams rested is probably going to draw some colossal money on the Lake Show. It actually reminds me a fair amount about the Orlando-Atlanta game earlier. I'm really looking for ways to back the Spurs here, but without Tony Parker, it makes it quite a bit tougher. Both teams have won their home game so far this season, so that backs a play on the Spurs, but when it comes right down to it, this line is fair. This line is spot on where it should be, and unless it moves significantly in one direction, I don't think there's a ton of value. I happen to think the Lakers win the game, since it's not really a great idea to take an opponent to beat the Lakers and not get more than 2 points. We all know what a last second Kobe shot can do. But, at the same time, oddsmakers know the Lakers are going to be a draw, and they probably could have gotten away with bringing the line out at Pick or even with the Lakers favored by a point. For that reason, I lean Spurs, and I happen to think they just want it more. We all know how the Lakers play in marquee games - lean to the Under.

Grizzlies @ Warriors - A Pick with a total of 235. Another monster of a total in Oakland, but the real question here is whether the Warriors can bounce back from another tough defeat on their home floor. Yes, they got the cover, but the Warriors just pour everything out there every night, and always seem to come up just short because of a lack of size or depth. These teams just faced off a couple days ago, and the Warriors were getting 9 points in Memphis. If we switch courts and factor in that the Warriors are rested for this one, the Grizzlies should probably be a 1-point favorite, and really, when the line is hovering around a Pick, the -1 to +1 transition is pretty negligible. So, the Warriors got murdered in Memphis, but we've seen how they play when fatigued - they just don't have the bench to play hard in 2 games in 2 days. The starters play almost the entire game, so trying to go 2 straight days just isn't happening. This time, the Warriors are rested, but they're also coming off that crazy game with the Suns. If the Warriors are going to win, they're going to need to outplay the competition by a ton. The Grizzlies are an outstanding rebounding team, so look for Memphis to dominate the offensive glass, and they could score on almost every possession. I don't really like the side, yet again, but I guess with a gun to my head, I'd think the Grizzlies win it late. The total is interesting if only because the last meeting went under the mark (courtesy of a crazy low-scoring 4th quarter), and the line on this game is exactly the same as the last one. I like the Over, though I hope the Warriors last game isn't killing the value here. I also hope the Memphis game in Sacramento is helping keep this total low enough to keep the value.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Still Scoring in Oakland

Not much to say about that Paid Play last night - the Magic just hit too many 3-pointers for our Under to come in strong. I still think the tempo was perfect, but Orlando just hit too many shots, and once those guys start playing the game, there's nothing we can do about it.

The Free Play was complete and utter pandemonium in the Golden State, but when all was said and done, the Warriors managed to sneak one out with some help from the Suns flailing at the free throw line.

From a betting standpoint, it's pretty clear from yesterday's results that those road favorites of 3-8 points that almost never cover in January, when the grind of the NBA season is insufferable, are rattling off easy wins these days. They just have the motivational edge, and unless there's a truly obvious reason to avoid these road teams (like Oklahoma City on Sunday, when they had a look-ahead spot in Indiana, or the Suns last night, since we know they're very weak on the back-to-back), they seem like pretty safe bets. We'll take advantage of those moving forward.

Sports Wagering

Bobcats @ Wizards - Charlotte by 5.5 with a total of 184. This is another of those spots where you want so badly to take the home team, where every ounce of your being wants to grab the points, but I just don't know if the time of the season dictates such a move. The Bobcats are coming off back-to-back losses in Atlanta (in OT), and then in Miami in their 4th game in 5 nights. Now, Charlotte has had 2 comfortable days off, on the road, to rest up, see the lovely sights of, presumably, Miami (since I doubt these guys really wanted to spend extra time in Washington). They know they need this game, since the Bulls haven't quite given up yet, and the Raptors and Heat are right there, fighting with Charlotte for a playoff spot, and then the honor of not having to play Cleveland or Orlando in the first round. Looking at this one from a situational angle, the Bobcats have no reason to struggle. The Wizards, on the other hand, are in a first game home off a tough West coast road trip that they finished with a solid comeback effort against the Lakers, but they had simply fallen too far behind to catch up. I hate to say it, but I lean Bobcats, since the team with the bad situational spot is actually the Wizards here. On the total, both teams have been playing low-scoring games, and the line reflects that. I would have loved to lean Under, but I fear most of the value is gone with such a low line.

Nuggets @ Knicks - Denver by 6.5 with a total of 217. Let's make no mistake, the Nuggets haven't looked terribly impressive in their 6 quarters. They played an awful 2nd half against the Hornets, and played a horrid full game against the Bucks. But, here they are, with a chance to get fat against a team that doesn't play any defense. Still, this doesn't strike me as a good situational spot for Denver. Obviously, I'd prefer if they weren't coming off a SU loss to the Bucks at home, since they'll probably be a little pissed, but at the same time, the Nuggets have a game with the Celtics coming up tomorrow, so this is indeed a potential look-ahead spot. In fact, the rest of this road trip is Boston, Toronto, Orlando and Dallas, a true test for the Nuggets, and it seems like they might wake up on this trip, but unlikely that it happens in the opener. On the Knicks side, New York has been relatively competitive of late, losing a very tough game with Houston on Sunday and missing the cover by a bucket, but they have been doing a decent job of keeping games close until the final few minutes. The question is, can they keep it within 6.5. This is a pretty low line considering the two teams, and it almost looks like a fair line. Just another reason that playing road favorites at this time of year isn't nearly as nuts as it was 2 months ago. But that look-ahead basically tells me not to play Denver. This one is Knicks or nothing. On the total, that number is colossal when you consider the shooting slump the Nuggets have been dealing with - I have to lean Under.

Pacers @ Pistons - Detroit by 3.5 with a total of 205. This is a fun one to cap since it's basically a rematch of a game played less than a week ago. These are always a LITTLE easier to predict, though again, this late in the season, the variables seem a bit more screwball. The Pacers won that home game 106-102, surprisingly close considering they were up 62-41 at halftime, and the Pistons came storming back. This game is a point of pride for the Pistons, I would think, considering the Pacers have actually knocked them off 3 times this year. I hate to say it, but at first glance, it looks like one team just has the other by the throat, though admittedly the Pistons have played the best basketball most recently, if that makes any sense. That is, they got outplayed for the first 10 quarters of this season series, but played better than Indiana the most recent 2, and I just wonder if any of that momentum could carry over into this one. The Pistons got killed in Cleveland since that loss to Indiana, while the Pacers beat the hell out of the Thunder, a very impressive win. But the Pacers just haven't been competitive on the road this year, at least not consistently. Still, Indiana has covered 5 straight games, and 8 of 9, so it's tough to fade them right now. When push comes to shove, though, I think Detroit plays with just enough pride to get past Indiana, and the short line is JUST short enough. Detroit wins this game by 5 is my opinion, and I have a very small lean to the Pistons. The total just keeps getting adjusted, but the Pacers shot 54% in the last meeting with Detroit, and I don't think we see a repeat performance there, so I lean just slightly to the Under.

Clippers @ Mavericks - Dallas by 10 with a total of 205. This is actually the spread with the Mavs on a back-to-back; that's how ugly things have gotten for the Clippers. This game, to me, is like that "Would You Rather..." silly conversation starter that people use in bars? Would you rather bet on the Mavericks, a team that got popped at home by the Celtics, then just got creamed by the pathetic Hornets last night, and has a truly special 8-27 ATS record at home and 0-8 ATS record as a favorite of 10-12 points? Or, would you rather bet on the Clippers (shudders), a team that has clearly thrown in their team towel, soggy with despair, a team that has covered just 2 of 10 games, has lost 9 of 10, and has lost by double digits in 7 of those 9 losses? Hah. That's like asking someone if they'd rather have a paint ball fired up their nose or clean an adult movie theater. Neither team is in a particularly good or bad situational spot, so that gives us no help, and neither team is on revenge or cares a great deal about this game. The immediate thought is that the Mavs are going to bounce back, but they just don't win big at home, so that doesn't help us either. PASS on the side, with authority. On the total, that looks too high to me. The Clippers offense doesn't really inspire confidence, though Dallas just gave up 115 to the Hornets last night. This total might be pretty accurate, but gun to my head lean is to the Under by maybe a bucket.
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