Monday, March 15, 2010

Jason Maxiell's Mighty Patella

Wow, that was ugly!

Sports Wagering

Bobcats @ Pacers - Charlotte by 1 with a total of 197.5. This line is strikingly low, and I'm having all kinds of issues wrapping my head around it. I can only assume the public is going to see the same thing, since the extreme "smallitude" of this line is just smacking us in the face. So, I suppose the question is whether or not the Bobcats are truly 4 points better than the Pacers on a neutral court. I mean, I know Charlotte isn't a spectacular team, and they're likely going to be playing without Gerald Wallace, but it seems like this line is the oddsmaker's way of saying that Charlotte got a big win over Orlando without Wallace, but the "other guys" will suffer a letdown in this one. Interestingly, Indiana has won their last 2 home games, but they've been on the road so much it's tough to remember. But at the same time, from a motivational standpoint, the Bobcats have every reason to play hard in this one, and the Pacers really have none. Charlotte, on top of that, has always been just fine with playing in Indiana, at 8-2 ATS in the team's brief history in this particular venue. So why oh why is this line so low? I'm not going to bite just yet, but I have to say, in terms of games where I'm considering "going square," this is among that list. It's the Charlotte letdown factor against the Pacers home court edge and desire to play spoiler. I guess I lean Charlotte, but mostly because I don't understand this one. This total is not really in Charlotte's comfort zone, and I'm also debating whether this is a hint that Indiana gets this thing moving along. I still think Charlotte can slow things down, and I lean Under.

Spurs @ Heat - This line is OFF. This game doesn't interest me much, if only because we have two teams that are fighting for playoff spots/positioning, and both are playing like it matters. At this point in the season, we really need to continue to rely heavily on handicapping motivation, and both teams are heavily motivated to perform in this one. The Heat have won 6 of 7 games and covered 5 of 6, so they're playing well, including a 13-point win over the Sixers in their most recent game. The Spurs have won 7 of 8 and covered 6 of 7, so these two teams have been almost the same over the past couple weeks. Also, both teams play Orlando next - sort of a weird scheduling anomaly, with the Spurs playing them tomorrow, and the Heat the following day. Is this a look-ahead game? Potentially, but it would be a look-ahead for both teams. I guess maybe a little more for the Heat, since Orlando is a rival, but can you really say one team is in a "lookier" ahead spot when they're about to face the same opponent? No leans on the side in this game, but I do get a sentimental feeling about the Under in this game, since both teams prefer to grind it out - the Spurs play lower scoring games on the road, the Heat have been playing some higher-scoring games against teams with awful defenses.

Cavaliers @ Pistons - Cleveland by 9.5 with a total of 195.5. This one is going to increase by morning, as the public catches wind of Tayshaun Prince's injury and the Piston's AWFUL performance last night in Boston. In fact, while I can't possibly advocate backing the Pistons given the injury situation and the fact that they're 0-5 ATS on back-to-back games since the All Star Break. That being said, this might be an opportunity to set up a middle - Cleveland will probably be a 10.5 or 11 point favorite by morning, or even before I get this blog up (in which case, don't worry about it), but with the public likely backing Cleveland, and the injury move added in there, the Cavs could very well be 12 point favorites before this one tips. That's a very liberal estimate, but it's a possibility, and it's definitely the best way to handle the side in this game. There might be 1 time per season I advocate backing a road team laying nearly double-digits, but this ain't that time. But again, as noted, Detroit is in no place to compete. No leans on the side in this game, too. On the total, can anyone REALLY see Detroit breaking 85 points? If the Cavaliers bring it at even 85-90%, they should win this game 100 to 85. Marginally strong lean to the Under, though this one might drop, too when the injury and overall bad play gets factored into the mix.

Hawks @ Nets - This line is OFF. Joe Johnson is expected to miss this game, and while we might very well see the Injured Star Theory in play, I'm not sure the other guys are going to get up for a game with the Nets. Atlanta has spanked the Nets by a combined 53 points in the two meetings so far this year, and I just can't imagine this is a game they really, truly care about. On top of that, the Hawks just haven't been playing good basketball lately. They covered their last game, beating Detroit by 13 at home, but the Pistons have been notoriously bad on back-to-back spots. Prior to that win, the Hawks had lost 4 straight games ATS, and looked back in two road losses in Miami and New York. On the other side, the Nets have covered 6 straight games! Some of them, just barely, but a cover's a cover. The big concern here is that the Nets have been on the road for 5 games, so this is the first game in "The Dead Zone" (their home arena) since a home loss (but a cover) againt the Magic on the 5th. 11 days away from home can take a toll on a team, even if they're covering. Still, it's pretty obvious the Nets want to win, and getting terrible teams that are giving 100% is a good spot - they don't want to be remembered as one of the worst teams in NBA history, and there are only so many games left to try to squeeze out a few W's. I have just a tiny lean to the Nets, though Atlanta could just as easily win by 25 again. On the total, the Hawks are going to want to get into a scoring match, since the Nets simply can't keep up, and the Nets only real shot to win is to keep Atlanta from getting out and getting those offensive rebounds. I lean Over.

Bulls @ Grizzlies - This line is OFF. It looks like Chicago will be without Rose, Deng, Noah and Hinrich in this one, and maybe Brad Miller. That's tough to stomach. The Grizzlies might be without Marc Gasol, but let's stop for a moment and realize how the motivational angles go head to head. The Bulls are basically done; without 80% of their starting 5, they have no shot of making the playoffs. The dilemma in this game is quite clearly whether the Bulls will get enough points in the spread. The Grizzlies might be a tad dejected off that meltdown against the Nuggets, so there's certainly the possibility that one, if not a few of the players will be starting to think their chances of slipping into the Western Conference postseason have just about hit zero. And if even a few guys on the team aren't going full tilt, we're in trouble. Memphis beat Chicago in Chicago as a 5-point underdog about 2 weeks ago, but given the injuries, we're probably looking at a pretty hefty point spread swing in this game. Still, despite the potential for Memphis to have a letdown game off that bad performance against Denver, I think they just want this game more, and I think they'll win it by close to double digits. I lean to the Grizzlies. On the total, Memphis has been playing some high scoring games, but can Chicago's reserves keep up? Let's take a peek at where this total comes out, but if indeed we can get the Over at a relatively reasonable number, I might bite.

Wizards @ Nuggets - Denver by 14 with a total of 210. Now that, right there, is a spread! Two touchdowns, the Wizards are giving up in this one, and maybe we can understand why. The Wizards are going from Utah to Denver, so back-to-back games in the altitude, and considering they had 3 games in 3 nights less than a week ago, the Wizards are staring at a 5 games in 6 days situation. Our buddy Jeff pointed out that that absolutely never happens, and the odds of the Wizards actually holding together are so, so slim. I know Denver is headed home to finish a back-to-back and play a 4th in 5 days, as well, but they know how to play in the altitude. I know Denver is playing its first game at home in 9 days, so they might relax a little, but Washington clearly just has nothing left in the tank, and this spread might actually increase. I can't believe I'm saying this, but as many bad angles as the Nuggets are dealing with, nothing is more absurd than the Wizards schedule, and to be doing it on the road with 2 straight days in altitude is just unreal. The schedule-makers deserve to have a meeting with Gilbert Arenas. In any case, I almost don't care who Washington is playing today, I won't back them. I lean Nuggets in a furious blowout. I lean to the Over, as well, since I can easily see Denver playing poor defense on a back-to-back while scoring like crazy themselves.

Wolves @ Suns - This line is OFF. I think this is off because of Kevin Love, but it's pretty weak for oddsmakers to hold back a line on a game that's clearly going to be a double-digit spread. Luckily, Phoenix doesn't seem to be opposed to beating lesser teams by double digits. I guess the question here is whether the Suns show the Wolves enough daylight to let them get some confidence. Defense, believe it or not, is going to be the key to this game. Both teams love to get up and down the court, and the Suns have to make sure they don't just get into a back-and-forth bucket-for-bucket game, since that's really the only prayer the Wolves have. Phoenix can win this game easily and by a large number if they protect the rim and grab defensive rebounds, and that should be a bit easier if Kevin Love is indeed out. The Wolves have lost 15 of 16 games SU, so things are about as ugly as they can be for Minnesota, and lately they haven't been covering either, so they're getting creamed. I can't back a team that has thrown in the towel, and it seems like finding motivation is tough on the road. Obviously, the back door is going to be wide open in another gigantic spread game, but once again I have to lean to the big home favorite, since the Wolves aren't in any spot to truly compete the rest of the year. I lean Suns. On the total, we might be looking at a number up around 215, and if so, I hate to say it, but I got nothin'.

Lakers @ Kings - Lakers by 6.5 with a total of 205.5. This is not going to be an easy game for the Lakers. I suppose the only advantage is that the Lakers only have to travel 80 miles to get from Oracle Arena in Oakland up to Arco in Sacramento. Otherwise, the Lakers could be in a bit of a fatigue spot. They had to play their asses off last night to escape an excitable Warriors team, and now are laying 6.5 points against the Kings? See, this doesn't make a ton of sense to me, since the Lakers were laying 8.5 against Golden State. By that token, the Kings and Warriors are being set at equals on a neutral court, but just a few days ago, the Trailblazers were laying just 1.5 points at Sacramento the day after laying 6 in Golden State! A little quick math there should have set the Warriors at 2.5-point neutral court favorites over the Warriors, and the Lakers should either have been bigger favorites last night in Golden State, which clearly they didn't need to be given the ATS loss, or should be a smaller favorite tonight. Are the Lakers truly 11.5-points better than the Kings on a neutral site? I don't think so, and I don't think they'd be 14.5-point favorites over Sacramento if this game was in LA. The Lakers are 7-9 ATS in back-to-back games, which is exactly the same percentage as their overall ATS mark. However, the problem seems to come on the defensive end, and just like with Golden State, if the Lakers don't defend, they're not going to win "big" on the road. Lean to the Kings, and lean the Over.

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