Sunday, March 07, 2010

Invoking the Bounceback

To use a line coined by the immortal comedy Dumb and Dumber, "You are one pathetic loser!"

But I kid.

Indeed, the 2-Unit play on the Thunder-Kings Under crept up over the mark with 2 minutes to go, and given the relatively quick pace of the game, the Thunder's ridiculous edge on the offensive glass, Sacramento's over-50% shooting from the field, the 4 combined technical fouls and 1 flagrant foul, I'd say we were remarkably close to pulling off a miracle. Sadly, though, it just seemed that play was not meant to be. But, as we do with all the wins, we move on.

Sports Wagering

Spurs @ Cavaliers - This line is OFF. For once, I'll go ahead and give the books an "okay" on keeping the line off. Is Lebron going to play? That question not only makes this game impossible to set a line for, but also impossible to handicap. Is there anyone else in the NBA that has this kind of impact on everything we're trying to do with a game? It almost doesn't matter who is doing what and which team is in what sort of situational spot, as long as we have no idea what Lebron James is doing. Let's go ahead and handicap this game as if he's playing, since we just don't know how the Cavs can handle themselves without him, and if he takes the night off, so will we (on this game). The Spurs have quietly won 4 games in a row, covering the most recent 3. The Cavs are, well, the Cavs, so with Lebron we know we're going to get a strong effort, but we also know that they're going to be slightly overvalued. If Lebron plays, amazingly, I lean to San Antonio. If he doesn't play, I lean to the Cavs. I know that sounds nuts, but with Lebron out, the line is going to get a monster adjustment, and the non-Lebrons are going to be much stronger on their home court, trying to play pick-me-up for their fallen hero. With Lebron in there, I think the Spurs continue to try to make their trademark late-season push and probably keep this game relatively close. I hope that makes some kind of sense. This is an important game for San Antonio, but I think they lose some of their motivation with Lebron out. The total is impacted quite a bit by his presence, as well. Let's just wait and see, shall we?

Hawks @ Knicks - Atlanta by 6 with a total of 210.5. This is a strange match-up, if mostly because New York has beaten Atlanta twice this year, both times on the road. Atlanta beat New York here at Madison Square Garden in the teams' first meeting, so the home team has yet to win a game. I'll admit, I don't have a strong read on the Hawks. Atlanta won 4 in a row before losing their last game in Miami on Saturday, but they haven't been much for covering spreads. They're just 7-12 ATS in their last 19 games, and laying 6 points on the road seems like a dangerous proposition. These teams haven't met since New Year's Day, so I don't know how helpful it would be to look at the previous meetings for any reason other than the idea that the Hawks are likely going to want to win another one in MSG. The Knicks have been awful lately, winning just 2 of their last 14 games, though to our credit, we picked up a winner on one of those 2 wins. I'm honestly just not sure this is the right spot to back them, again. You guys know how much I would love to tell you to play the home dog getting 6 points, but with Atlanta presumably on some sort of revenge, and the Knicks just playing downright awful basketball, this is a game where I'd avoid the hugely public Hawks, but I'd also avoid the stinktacular Knicks. No lean on the side. The total looks pretty high considering how poorly the Knicks have performed on offense against any team with the energy to defend them, and my bigger concern is that the Hawks score 115. Still, I think Atlanta wins this one with a total just over 200, and hence, I lean to the Under.

Nets @ Grizzlies - Memphis by 9 with a total of 195.5. This line is all kinds of crazy! These teams played just 2 weeks ago, and Jersey was getting 6 points on their home court. So, have the Grizzlies really fallen that far, that the line would only move 3 points between venues? Unfortunately, it seems folks are starting to catch on that Memphis can't win at home, and Jersey is a covering machine on the road. This line is also interesting in that Memphis beat Jersey by 10 on the road in that game. So, instead of moving the line the normal 6 points between home and road venues, it was shifted only 3. I'm having a tough time wrapping my head around this line. It seems like the value that should have been on the Nets just isn't quite there. Believe me, as was the case in the game above, I would love to tell you to bet the farm on the underdog, but under most circumstances, the Nets should be getting double digits here, and I can't, for the life of me, figure out why oddsmakers feel so comfortable bringing this number out at just 9. I have to admit, this game is making me rethink my feelings on traps. If the oddsmaker's goal was to get split action on every game, either they believe the public has caught on to the Nets solid road ATS play, or that the public is fed up with betting Memphis, because there's little doubt in my mind that one week ago they could have brought this line out at 11, and it wouldn't be a problem. I WILL have a lean on the side, but I just don't have one yet. More work to be done here. For the total, Memphis has been playing a slower paced game at home, and I'm not sure if folks have truly caught on, yet. They haven't broken 100 at home since January 27th, and I know Jersey's defense isn't impressive, but Memphis just isn't scoring on their own floor. I lean Under.

Mavericks @ Timberwolves - Dallas by 7 with a total of 207. Seems like these teams are just playing each other every time you turn your head. They played just 5 days ago in Dallas, the game where the Mavericks decided to rest Jason Kidd, and Minnesota ran the ball like crazy in that one. They pushed Dallas to the limit, and lost by just a final margin of 3, 112-109. Thus, this game becomes a very interesting one - most likely the most interesting game on the card. The power rankings have remained unchanged, as the spread in the last meeting was Dallas by 13. The standard 6-point swing takes us to this game's opening number. No foul play, there. Minnesota played incredible basketball in both games at Dallas this year, but actually looked awful in Dallas's lone visit to Minnesota back in November, losing 89-77. Can the Wolves really shoot 53% for the game AGAIN against the Mavs? I know Dallas's post-All Star Break focus on defense has waned markedly over the last 6 games (Dallas has allowed over 100 points in 5 of those 6 games), and I'm just extremely curious to try to pinpoint the game, or opponent, that is going to wake Dallas up once again. They should be mostly healthy, at least from a defensive standpoint. Obviously the Mavs are going to be without the services of Jason Terry, so that hurts them a tad on offense, but they showed no ill effects in scoring 122 in Chicago. Unfortunately, because both teams have been playing to the over almost religiously there really isn't any value left on the over. I do think there remains a little value on Minnesota, since I think this team has the confidence to play with the Mavericks. They beat them once, and I think the Wolves believe they can do it again, especially if Dallas continues to take possessions off on the defensive end. I lean Minnesota, and I lean Under, since I think this line has been overadjusted.

Warriors @ Hornets - New Orleans by 7 with a total of 214.5. Are the Hornets slowing down as Chris Paul nears his return? It sure looks that way. New Orleans has lost 6 of 7 straight up, and 5 of 6 ATS. Interestingly, the fatigue seems to be setting in on the offensive end of the floor, sort of the opposite of what you'd expect. The Hornets have been trying to force the tempo, and get quick, easy shots with Paul gone, and for a while, it worked. They didn't win a ton of games, but they were competitive, consistently. Now, suddenly, the Hornets are still giving up over 100 points on a nightly basis, but can't seem to quite get there, themselves. The Warriors would seem to be the perfect opponent to put some points on the board. Golden State is in the final game of a grueling 5-day road trip, alternating covers and missed covers, based, not surprisingly, on fatigue. So, here we have to try to balance how badly the Warriors want to get home versus how much they'd like to bounce back from that loss in Charlotte. I think there's something to be said for the fact that New Orleans has won both meetings this year, and the Warriors, while shorthanded, might try to take advantage of a clearly struggling Hornets club starting to miss its superstar and maybe nab a win for some confidence. The Hornets have had 2 days to rest up, so I don't think they'll be taken by surprise here, and it makes me a little nervous about backing the Warriors -- still, this line appears somewhat inflated, since the Hornets haven't laid this sort of chalk since Paul went down, and the Warriors have shown some heart on this road trip, even if the results aren't quite there. I lean Golden State, and I lean Over, since the Warriors aren't going to win a defensive game.

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