Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Embarrassment in Beantown

It's so important to be judicious with the Slumpbuster, but after the way the Heat mistreated us on Tuesday, I felt it was time.

Sports Wagering

Hawks @ Wizards - This line is OFF. Though, actually, there seems to be something weird going on with the books tonight, as I'm seeing Hawks by 7, with a total of 194 at a few places, and every other book still hasn't released a line on any of the 3 games. I guess I've been out of the loop. In terms of the games occurring tonight, at least at first glance, this is not the game I'm looking at the hardest, but hey, let's see what's going on. The first thing that jumps out at me is not the Hawks 2-game losing streak, though it's safe to say they've regressed a little after a semi-hot run. The most important note in this game is that the Wizards really seem to have run out of gas. They've lost 4 in a row, and 6 of 7, and they haven't cracked the 90-point barrier in any of their last 5 games. Bottom line, you can play the best defense on the planet, but if you're only scoring 85 ppg, you're probably not winning many games. And they're not covering many, either. This team built up some clout with a hot run right after trading away Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, but the young guys can only play over their actual skill level for so long, and the ceiling is starting to cave. The Hawks have indeed smacked the Wizards twice already this year, but the discrepancy in actual ability keeps this game from being anything more than a 3rd meeting between a good team and a bad one. The Hawks are coming off two subpar performances in losses to the Heat and Knicks, but they've had 2 days off, and while they're almost certainly going to be the big public favorite, you couldn't pay me enough to back Washington right now. Small lean to Atlanta. On the total, I'm riding this wave of Washington mediocrity until they prove they can score 90 points. I lean Under.

Bulls @ Magic - This line is OFF. This is another case, actually a bit like the previous game, where one team is just out of steam. In this one, it is, again, the lesser club. The Bulls are likely going to be without the services of both Luol Deng and Joakim Noah yet again, and I just don't trust the other guys to get it done for 48 minutes. The Bulls have lost 5 games in a row, and have failed to cover in all 5. This game marks the start of a 4-game road trip, so the road doesn't get any less bumpy for the undermanned Bulls. Over on the Orlando side, things are pretty rosy -- they've won 6 games in a row and 8 of 9 (straight up), while covering 6 of those 9 games as well. The Magic had no problem following up the Sunday win over the Lakers with a cruising blowout of the lowly Clippers, and after taking yesterday off, they host Chicago on TNT. These teams have split 2 meetings this year, with both taking place in Chicago. The Bulls won the first of those 2 games, but Orlando got its revenge with a 20-point drubbing just before the All Star Break. So, I suppose the issues we have to weigh in this game are as follows: 1) Can the Bulls muster the strength to compete for 48 minutes? Lately, the answer has been a resounding "no," but with the TNT cameras trained on them, perhaps they sustain the effort a little bit longer. Will Orlando take Chicago seriously even though they beat them by 20, and the Bulls are on a rather uninspired losing skid? I think so, as the Magic are surging, and there's no reason to think they let up. And finally, how big will this spread be? I'm thinking this bad boy is going to be up over 8, maybe as high as 10, but likely somewhere in between. I hate to say it, but the Bulls might very well fold up late yet again, and I have to lean to the big square singular team name from Florida. No, not the Heat; the Magic. On the total, the Bulls have been playing zero defense, and getting into failed running matches. I wonder if the big stage wakes them up on the defensive end. I'm inclined to say that they do play a slightly slower game here, and I lean Under.

Blazers @ Warriors - This line is OFF. Again, something weird about all these lines being off, and it's really a darn shame, but so it goes. Word on the street is that Monta Ellis will make his return to the Warriors lineup tonight, and he couldn't have picked a better spot. The Warriors host a team that they've had somewhat surprising success against, at home only, over the past few years. In fact, while the Warriors got their clock cleaned up in Portland, the Warriors beat the Blazers in Oakland once already this year, and are on a 5-game winning streak against Portland in Northern California. The huge, huge point of concern on this one is that the Warriors are coming home off a long road trip. They lost all 5 games of a trip that started in south Florida, and finished up in New Orleans. So, the Warriors are going to be tired. But, this team is a little different in that most of these guys don't actually have lives set up in Oakland, or anywhere in the Bay Area. The biggest problem with teams coming home off a long road trip is that they have to try to figure out how to balance family life and chores and food with basketball, and suddenly their schedules get all discombobulated. With the Warriors, we're looking at about 6-7 D-Leaguers, who have houses in, well, Eastern Butttown, USA, so coming home is really just playing another road game, but with a crowd that cheers for you. So, there may be some letdown, but I don't think quite as severe as with a veteran club. I lean Golden State to overcome that sluggishness. On the total, well, we've had both meetings this year go Under, and it seems like Portland has been able to at least slow the tempo a little. The fact that the teams were averaging under 80 field goal attempts makes me think they're going to really have to shoot the lights out to hit an over, and I lean Under.

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