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.

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