Monday, March 08, 2010

Coughing It Up

I'm already ready to forget about yesterday.

Not because it was such a disaster, though; quite the contrary. I truly feel that the Timberwolves were the right play, and watching every second of that game, I couldn't help but feel like we were one shot away from getting a cover. Unfortunately, every time the Wolves looked like they were about to make a run, Johnny Flynn threw it out of bounds.

The official scorer had the Timberwolves with 25 turnovers, but there was a steal that went down as a missed shot, and for some reason there was an offensive foul that never got tallied into the turnover column. I suppose maybe an earlier turnover was ruled, I don't know, something else, but I had this game with 27 turnovers. Either way, Minnesota did not take care of the ball, and while Dallas really didn't look all that great, the Wolves just kept aiming that six-shooter directly at their own feet and pulling the trigger.

Back-to-back losses obviously does not please me, but unfortunately, it is an inevitability of gaming. I was explaining to a friend that when everything goes "normally" in a game, that's when your strong value play is a winner. When a team commits 25/27 turnovers and has its athletic Center ejected with 3 minutes to go because of a flagrant foul type-2, your play loses. The reason I bring this up is that a LOSS on a GOOD play is ALWAYS going to look awful. Like I said, if the game went like most basketball games, it's a winner. Instead, weird things just kept happening, and it's no coincidence that weird games tend to lead to losers.

Sports Wagering

Rockets @ Wizards - This line is OFF. This is something of a battle of the mediocre. The Rockets have run out of steam, just unable to compete every night at such a severe height disadvantage on a regular basis. The Wizards young guys seem to be a tad short on energy, as well. After stepping up, big time, right after the Wiz traded away all their moving pieces, Washington has slowed substantially. They haven't cracked the 90-point barrier in 4 straight games, and somehow managed to hold Boston to just 86 points in a cover on Sunday's ESPN afternoon tilt. Washington is in a spot to be even more fatigued than usual, coming off that emotional loss in Boston. Houston, meanwhile, is coming off something of a late meltdown in Detroit, and the Pistons came back to tie it, then win it in overtime. So, is Houston going to be extra focused in this one, coming off the disappointing loss, or is that bad momentum going to carry over? The Rockets are a tough nut to crack these days, as they've alternated ATS wins and losses over their last 7 games, which means they're due for a win. Of course, that pattern means very little other than the fact that Houston doesn't seem to be able to play two decent games in a row. Those ATS wins and losses have also been SU wins and losses, so if we think Houston is going to win, we play them. If not, we don't. I happen to think Houston is in the better situational spot, and I lean to the square side. On the total, I have to look at the Under, as Washington is having all kinds of issues getting points lately.

Clippers @ Magic - This line is OFF. This spread is going to be frighteningly large. The Clippers were 14-point dogs to Utah on back-to-back, and the Magic are better than the Jazz. Of course, no back-to-back here, but I wouldn't be surprised to see almost the exact same spread in this one that we saw in the Clippers' last game. Interesting angles in this contest, I should say. For one, the Magic are playing their first game since the Sunday morning INTENSE game with the Lakers, which had everything from near buzzer-beaters to jawing, hard fouls, etc. It was a playoff game in the regular season, and the Magic have to try to get their juices flowing for a follow-up affair with the capsizing Clippers? I don't know. But really, can anyone make a case for backing the Clippers right now? There's just no chance I play the Magic on letdown, but the Clippers are 1 blowout loss into a 5-game road trip, and have been blown out in 3 straight games, overall. There is no team in the NBA playing worse basketball than the Clipshow right now, so betting on them is damn near impossible. Still, you know damn well they're going to be getting all kinds of line value for that exact reason. I just don't get the feeling this team has any pride, and that's what makes them so tough to get behind. Still, they have my lean. On the total, both teams have been playing to the under: the Magic because they've been defending well, and the Clippers because they can't score. Because I think the Magic take a night off, I lean Over, amazingly.

Sixers @ Pacers - Indiana by 1.5 with a total of 209.5. I don't much care for this one. The Pacers are playing their first game at home off a 4-game road trip, and actually their only game in the span of 6 days. This one has the potential to be a very, very sluggish performance. But I can't quite put my finger on why the Pacers are laying points in this one. I know the Sixers are in a tailspin of their own, but given how awful the Pacers look to the public, it seems like oddsmakers could get away with bringing this thing out at a Pick, or even with the Sixers as a tiny favorite. Shows what I know, I guess. These teams have played twice this season, and the road team has won both games as an underdog, so home court hasn't played much of a role. Philly is coming off grabbing their first win in 6 games, with an impressive road showing in Toronto, and I would argue that was Philadelphia's best game since the All Star Break. Could this be a sign that the Sixers are waking up? I would say I'm far more inclined to take a flier on this one with Philadelphia than expect the Pacers to play like the game means something. Indiana is beyond help, and if they're sluggish at home, Philly is going to out-muscle them. I lean to the Sixers to win this one outright. On the total, we know both of these teams want to run, but this total is pretty high. Still, if Philly is going to win, I can't help but think they're going to do some scoring -I lean Over.

Heat @ Bobcats - Charlotte by 3 with a total of 185. The most important angle in this game is revenge. Make that double-revenge. These two teams are basically equals on the court, but Charlotte has slugged Miami in the mouth twice this season, already. In fact, Miami played its worst game all year here in Charlotte back in January, shooting just 29% from the field in an embarrassing 104-65 loss. There is no way that a proud man like Dwyane Wade doesn't want to come back into Charlotte and show the Bobcats not to mess with his Heat, at least not three times in one season. Both of these teams are starting to warm up a little bit, with Miami winning 3 in a row off a 4-game losing skid, and Charlotte winning 2 straight after dropping 5 of 6. Which team is hotter? Well, that's debatable. The Bobcats got to play a completely wiped out Lakers team that the Heat had worn out with a strong showing the night before, then beat Golden State playing its 4th game in 5 nights. The Heat also beat the Warriors, but when they weren't tired, beat the Lakers when they weren't tired, and then took care of the Hawks, and seem to have sent Atlanta on a short losing skid, as the Hawks dropped another one last night in New York. I would say that the Heat are really something of a skid-starter. Neither team is in a look-ahead, and neither team is in a letdown, so all other angles can be mostly dumped. Based on the fact that I don't think Miami gets embarrassed in Charlotte again, I lean Heat. On the total, there just isn't any value on the Under, even though both of these teams prefer a slow, plodding game. I would avoid this total, since all numbers scream to take the Under, but logic says it's not that easy.

Celtics @ Bucks - Milwaukee by 1 with a total of 188. How about this? Did any of us ever think that the Bucks would be laying points to the Celtics this year? I know I thought Milwaukee was underrated going into the season, but this is a huge surprise, and one that I couldn't be happier about. The Bucks have been the ATS monster of the year, now 40-21 ATS on the season, so really, while we did back the Bucks for 3 or 4 wins in January and February, we could have just bet them blind and cashed big time. Still, it's tough to really know when a team isn't going to relent like Milwaukee has done, and it's truly awesome how well they've played. They've gone 9-0-1 in their last 10 games ATS, and they've won 9 of 10 games straight up, as well. They're coming off a 7-point home win over the Lebron-less Cavs, and I just wonder how long it's going to be before Milwaukee loses all its value. We might be getting close, given that they're a favorite to Boston! The Celtics beat the Bucks by 9 in the teams' only previous meeting this year, failing to cover a home spread of 12.5. Can you even believe that? In December, Boston was 9.5-points Milwaukee's superior, and now we're down to 2. A 7-point swing in the power rankings for these two teams - that is just nuts. Boston is coming off a surprisingly close game with the Wizards on Sunday afternoon, so I just wonder if this is actually something of a slight letdown spot for them. Milwaukee has the revenge, and has the momentum, but we do need to continue to be careful of the Celtics, as they are 22-10 on the road SU, so they're not going to just fold in this one. Still, I lean to the freight train, Milwaukee. This total is pretty darn low, but I actually believe it's close to accurate. It's tough to find an angle, but I would lean Under, since I think both teams are going to be content with a possession-style game.

Jazz @ Bulls - Utah by 3.5 with a total of 207. This is a scary spot for both teams, in my opinion. Chicago has been getting creamed lately, so there's certainly value on their side, but in order for that value to mean anything at all, the team has to be inspired to play basketball and try to win. It just seems like the nagging injuries are mounting for the Bulls, and playing at less than 100% leaves them a buck short just about every night. They've lost 4 in a row, a streak that started with an apathetic effort in Indiana a little over a week ago. They got blasted by the Hawks, Grizzlies and Mavs, and now get to face one of the most intimidating clubs in the NBA, the largely unguardable Utah Jazz. Utah is coming off a beating of the Clippers, and this game kicks off a 4-game road trip, so you have to believe Utah is feeling decent, and probably wants to get the trip started on a strong note. I hate to say it, but I don't really see the motivation in Chicago's eyes lately to play with enough fire to compete. Utah is bigger, stronger, and probably faster, which makes them look like the easy play, and tonight I happen to think that the play that looks too easy is just that: too easy. I don't recommend playing on the Jazz, as there just isn't a great deal of value there, laying points on the road, but right now, Utah is just so much better than Chicago, and Utah is playing for that playoff position, so they want every game, and unless you can find a good reason to back the home dog, I just can't see it. I lean to the SQUARE Jazz on the side. Chicago has allowed over 100 points to their opponents in 7 straight games, which means Utah likely scores 105, but I just don't know if the Bulls can break 100 against Utah's physical defense. I think Chicago tries to get some easy buckets, and I think this total just BARELY slips Over, but not really a good value there either. And as a final note, these teams played in November, and the Jazz beat the hell out of the Bulls, but that was really too long ago to make much of it.

Kings @ Blazers - Portland by 8 with a total of 199. Alright, what do we do with this one? These teams, incredibly, have only met once this year, back in December, and the Blazers beat the Kings by 7 at home to narrowly cover a 6.5-point spread. Now, 3 months later, we have two teams playing pretty solid basketball, and both clubs coming off an ATS loss. These teams have been pretty well-handicapped by the oddsmakers over the last few years, with Sacramento squeezing within the spread about half the time, and Portland beating them senseless the other half. That, unfortunately, makes this one probably one of the worst sides on the board. This spread is certainly coverable by the Blazers, but if the Kings continue to shoot as well as they have been from the field, it's going to be tough to beat them by more than 5 or 6. Portland is certainly a better defensive team than Houston, Dallas or the Thunder (at least lately - normally, OKC is strong on defense), so now we'll see if the Kings can withstand Portland's slow tempo and constant pressure. I don't know if I can stress enough how little I like the side in this game. If I had to make a play, gun to my head situation, I would lean to the Kings to keep sneaking underneath the large spreads they get consistently on the road. On the total, I lean Over, but I happen to think that number is accurate, too. Portland has been clearing 100 regularly on offense, but I believe the tempo is going to force Sacramento just under 100 points, leading to a total very, very close to the posted mark.

Raptors @ Lakers - This line is OFF. Over the last couple weeks, the Lakers have been a downright terrible ATS play. They've gone 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games, and potentially 1-6-1 depending on what line you got on their recent game with the Magic on Sunday. But among the entire NBA, Toronto is about the only team that's a worse bet. The loss of Chris Bosh set this team back substantially, as they've gone 0-6-1 in their last 7 games ATS, and despite the return of Bosh in the last game, Toronto got their clock cleaned by the Sixers, in Canada no less. So, now we have a Lakers team that actually lost to this Raptors club earlier this year, coming home off an 0-3 road trip, playing their first home game in a week, but going right back out on the road for 3 more, and we have to try to figure out if the Lakers are going to cover what's sure to be a relatively hefty spread. The huge problem with this game is that every yahoo out there is going to bet the Lakers under the assumption that they absolutely have to bounce back, and there's zero chance they go on a 4-game losing streak. Well, that's probably true - I don't think the Lakers lose another, but this spread is going to be inflated because of all those reasons. The public expects Kobe to go for 80 again against the Raptors, and add revenge to that, and suddenly the Lakers are likely going to be laying double digits, even though by looking at recent games with common opponents, we can see the Lakers should be just 8-9 point home favorites in this game. I don't think this game is a standard "first game home" spot, since the Lakers play 3 more road games before their next home affair, but I do think that the letdown from Sunday, combined with the cross-country travel and line inflation creates a marginal value for the slumping Raptors. The question is, can they wake up? I hope so, because I lean Toronto. I think the Raptors force the Lakers into a quicker game than they might like, especially because of that letdown, so I lean Over on the total.

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