Friday, March 12, 2010

Vinny Del Desempleado

I'm more than willing to admit when I'm just flat out wrong, and that was the case last night with the Suns. Obviously, the most frustrating part was that my three other strong leans on sides (Heat, Pistons, Nets) all covered, and unfortunately, from among my four strong leans, I picked the one stinker. It happens, and we move on. I only hope the avid blog readers got a winner or two out of checking for "overlap" with my strongest leans, since that would definitely make me feel better about laying a less-than-stellar Top Play on you guys, my loyal readers, and even more loyal bettors.

Sports Wagering

Magic @ Wizards - Orlando by 11.5 with a total of 195. This is an utterly screwball game, in that the Wizards had a write-in game on Thursday, played last night in Detroit, and now have to come back home to host the hottest team in the NBA, or one of the hottest at least. Three games in 3 nights for the Wizards, and unfortunately, oddsmakers are well aware of it. That's why they're getting 11.5 points here. I hate to do this to you guys, but I'm going to be at my best buddy's wedding, so write-ups today and Sunday are going to be a bit briefer than usual, especially on the games that don't interest me. Washington beat Orlando on February 2, so amazingly, the Magic have something to prove. I'm not laying 11.5 on a road team, no matter how great the situational spot, and I can tell you right out that I have no leans on the side. As far as the total is concerned, I have no idea how the Wizards are going to break 90, but I also have no idea how the Wizards can keep the Magic under 100. I think this total is pretty accurate, but I believe Orlando helps push this total Over by about a bucket. Not worth a play, not by a longshot, but it's a lean, so there it is.

Pistons @ Hawks - Atlanta by 12 with a total of 199. I get the feeling this line is high for a reason. We've talked numerous times about how bad Detroit has been in back-to-back games, especially since the All Star Break, and at 4-13-1 ATS, the Pistons are never a good team to play in fatigue spots. Detroit actually beat Atlanta in their only meeting this season, winning at home as a 6-point dog outright while outrebounding Atlanta 59-33. That is way, way out of character, as the Hawks are an impressive rebounding club, in general, and I don't think that happens again. The Pistons are coming off an easy win over the Wizards at home, so this one is going to take a fair amount of travel, and Detroit's tired jump-shooting legs are a bad bet. And as bad as the Hawks have been playing, this is the type of game where they've done just fine. The Pistons are undermanned and hugely reliant on jumpshots to succeed, and with the Pistons repeated failure to score when tired, they're ripe for the picking. I only wish the Hawks played better defense, since covering 12 points is going to be a task. I happen to think this spread is inflated, but actually accurate given the Pistons propensity for falling apart in the second half of back-to-backs, and I lean Hawks. I also happen to believe Detroit struggles to score, and if the Hawks don't force the tempo too much, this one stays Under.

Nuggets @ Grizzlies - Nuggets by 2.5 with a total of 214. Two teams on back-to-back games, but one team that has been "less bad" than the other. I choose my words carefully, and what I refer to is that the Nuggets are 5-9-2 ATS in back-to-back games, while the Grizzlies are a dead even 8-8 ATS. Advantage Memphis, there. On the side, the Grizzlies and Nuggets are both coming off wins last night, and while the Nuggets covered against the tiring Hornets, the Grizzlies allowed a backdoor cover to the Knicks in a spot where I'm sure Memphis-backers are currently pulling hair out. But Memphis has a chance to make a stink here tonight. The Nuggets are a perfectly terrible 0-7 ATS when they're a small road favorite (less than 3 points), a nice indicator that their "elite" status is garnering them too much credit in games against middling teams who have the talent and motivation to give Denver a tough time. Let's be honest here, this game means way more to the Grizzlies than the Nuggets, and Memphis has quietly rattled off 3 wins in a row, and 5 in 6 games. I happen to think Memphis wins this game; lean to the Grizz. On the total, I believe this is inflated at 214. Denver doesn't score as well on the road as they do at home, and the Grizzlies, while they've been putting up strong offensive numbers this week, they are actually an under team at home - I lean Under.

Clippers @ Spurs - This line is OFF. This is a tough night of travel for Los Angeles. They played last night in Charlotte and barely covered, then had to get from North Carolina down to Texas, and while they do get an hour in time zones, this is a 4th in 5 nights spot for the Clippers. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, the Spurs are coming home to host this one off a win last night in Minnesota, so they have a long night of travel, too, and we all know how bad the Spurs have been when tired. To San Antonio's credit, they're playing much better lately, but that complete inability to score in back-to-back games makes covering the kind of outrageously large spread we're likely to see here very, very tough. The Spurs are just 5-6 ATS in back-to-backs, which doesn't look all that bad, but they're 5-6 SU and 2-9 O/U, and those two stats give me pause. The Clippers are just 7-10-1 in back-to-back games, and 10-8 O/U, so they still stink, and the two points they normally get in the line hasn't really helped, and considering this is that trademark 4th in 5 nights fatigue game, all 4 games on the road, the Clippers look pretty darn bad. This spread is going to be hefty, but the Spurs actually won their last back-to-back game, a 102-92 victory in Memphis, so I'm not completely turned off by them. The Clippers look like they've about given up on this season, and I lean Spurs, despite a spread that's likely to be chalky enough to make you cough powder. On the total, well, I just won't back a Spurs over on a back-to-back -- not sure the under is a great play, but I certainly have to lean that way, to the Under.

Nets @ Rockets - Houston by 10 with a total of 200. This might be the game where the Nets finally fail to cover on the road. The Nets conclude a 5-game road trip here in Houston. They've gone 1-3 so far on the trip straight up, but a perfect 4-0 ATS, covering spreads that have been a bit lower than we might have expected, given the strength of the competition. But this is a different spot tonight. The Nets fought tooth and nail to try to come back and steal one from the Thunder last night, and coming from behind can be extremely exhausting. The Nets are 1-15 SU this year in back-to-backs, no surprise there, but 6-9 ATS, so just a tiny bit worse than their season ATS numbers. They have actually played decent basketball in their last few back-to-back situations, but given that after tonight's game, the Nets have 2 days off before hosting the Hawks, I'm guessing a few of those young guys are going to give effort for 24 minutes, and if the game isn't going their way, it might be time to take a nap for the second half. I don't necessarily like Houston, as they're playing their first home game off a 3-game swing through the Midwest, and Washington. It's not a terribly long road trip, but it might be a little bit of a sluggish spot for Houston, who currently sits one 10-game winning streak out of playoff contention. It's tough to tell if the Rockets are really invested in the stretch run, but as long as they've been collecting some wins, I don't think they're going to give up yet. I know the Nets have looked great lately, but off the tough game last night, I think they suffer a little bit of a snooze game tonight, and I lean Rockets. I also like the Over, since I fail to see how the Nets are going to defend well when tired, and the Rockets know they can win this game if they get out and get easy scores.

Knicks @ Mavericks - Dallas by 11 with a total of 210. Fade the Mavs at home? This one is a little tougher, just given the Knicks' situational spot. New York heads to Dallas off a 7-point loss and successful cover in Memphis last night, and the Knicks, a team predicated on offense, has been predictably terrible in back-to-back games. They are just 2-13 SU and almost as bad ATS at 5-10. They give up almost 110 points to their opponents in back-to-backs, so the Knicks already bad defense gets even worse. Though, that being said, I'm not sure it's so much that the defense gets worse, as the Knicks long rebounds get turned into fast-break buckets a little more often. So, while the Knicks score a point less when they're tired, they give up 5 more per game than when they're rested. I honestly don't much care for either team in this game, since it's important to look for a good situational spot before jumping on a bad team, and here, the Knicks aren't in a good spot at all. While backing the Mavs at home is always a brutal suggestion, I do happen to think this spread is pretty accurate, with the Knicks at risk for getting blown out. I lean Mavs, but doubtful this lean will amount to anything more than just that - a lean. The total of 210 intrigues me, since the Mavs finally played some defense in their last game, a win and failed cover against the Nets. Brendan Haywood was back in the lineup for Dallas, and the defense improved by almost 20 points. It won't be that severe every night, but with Haywood back, I'm back to enjoying Mavs Under bets.

Raptors @ Warriors - Toronto by 1.5 with a total of 227.5. This is a strange line to me. The Raptors would seem to be more than 4.5-points stronger than the Warriors, but they're just clanking game after game on the road, and it may surprise you to know that Toronto has gone just 1-7 SU in their last 8 games, and 1-6-1 ATS. That right there is a slump. They gave the Lakers a run for their money, but came back the next night and got spanked by the Kings. Now, after 2 nights to think about what went wrong, the Raptors are going up against something of a Western Conference mirror of themselves. The Warriors are, certainly, a bit more helter-skelter, and since Toronto has more talent, they don't have to operate at such a nutty pace, but the Warriors are a team that, when rested, really play their asses off on a nightly basis. I don't really like this game for either team though. Toronto is going to want to bounce back off that ugly loss up Interstate 80, and the Warriors might be in a letdown spot off the Thursday night meltdown. For the Warriors, it's all going to be about rebounding - if they can keep the Raptors to just 1 shot per possession, they can win this game, but only time will tell if Golden State can nab a rare win. I can't back the Raptors right now in their current slump, so I do lean to Golden State, but they're in a bad spot, too, so I'd be careful in this one. This total is stratospheric, but sometimes I wonder if oddsmakers set the mark this high to draw money on the under - I could certainly see both teams getting to 115, but I'd rather just avoid this volatile number.

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