Sunday, March 14, 2010

Who Shot J.R.?

That title came at the request of a buddy, and maybe it's too soon to poke fun at our Big Play that went down in flames, I do like the idea of at least trying to take those 4th quarter meltdowns in stride.

And because it's nearly 4:30 a.m. here on the West coast, I'm going to break down the early games and the later ones that I have STRONG LEANS in before sleep, then complete the others tomorrow, time permitting!!

Sports Wagering

Pacers @ Bucks - Milwaukee by 9.5 with a total of 202.5. We had that odd game about 3 weeks ago where the Bucks went into Indiana as a 2-point road favorite and won by a bucket. That line was one of the true head-scratchers of the last month or so, and I avoided it. Here, we have a line that makes more sense, in my opinion. The Bucks are probably the hottest team in the NBA -- they've won 5 in a row and 11 of 12 straight up, and their last 3 wins were at home over Boston, Cleveland (no Lebron, though), and Utah. Those are three very impressive victories. So, the question here is whether Milwaukee can get the juices flowing for a game with the pathetic Pacers of Indiana. I happen to think they will. The Bucks are rolling, and this is the final game of that 4-game homestand before Milwaukee embarks on a 3-game roadie out West. Indiana, meanwhile, has a banged up Danny Granger that is probable to play, but certainly not 100%, and they're pretty much running out the clock on 2010. They also pushed Milwaukee to the brink in that game mentioned above. I think Scott Skiles makes sure his guys take the Pacers seriously this time, and this one could be a blowout. I lean weakly to the Bucks, and weakly to the Under, as Milwaukee is on a 5-game under run, and they've been imposing a defensive will on games, which might even be more impressive than the wins themselves.

Cavaliers @ Celtics - This line is OFF. I would love to find a way to back the Celtics in this game. There, I said it. Boston is about as undervalued as they're ever going to be, but the obvious concern is whether or not they're actually good enough to keep a game with a superior team like Cleveland remotely close. Boston had been dinking and doinking along for a bit, losing on the road in Milwaukee, then at home to the Grizzlies before picking up an easy winner over the hapless Pacers in their last game. The biggest issue with the Celtics, though, is not that they can't win games. Boston is still a decent team, but they just don't seem to have the firepower on offense to keep up with superb offensive clubs, or the lateral mobility on defense to stymie the better teams in the NBA, at least not like in years past. Still, with Lebron just working his way back into top form, I happen to think the Cavs are going to be a bit overvalued here, when the line does finally decide to show up. Cleveland is coming off a road win, but failed cover in Philadelphia, and they've actually covered only 1 of their last 4 games, and that was the screwball win over the Spurs. The Cavs beat Boston on the road about 2 and a half weeks ago, so there is a measure of revenge for the Celtics, and I happen to think Boston is the team with more to prove, especially in a big game setting. I think we'll see Boston getting potentially as many as 7-8 points, and that's a ton to cover in an early game. I lean Celtics, and we all know how I feel about Boston in big game situations -- they're going to try to make this game as ugly as possible. I lean Under.

Sixers @ Heat - This line is OFF.

Bobcats @ Magic - This line is OFF.

Jazz @ Thunder - Oklahoma City by 1.5 with a total of 204.5. This is the game of the night, from a purely basketball-enjoyment standpoint, and as evidenced by the fact that I'm breaking it down early (not Sunday morning - read the opening few paragraphs if this doesn't make sense), indicates that I do have a lean on it. That lean is to the Thunder. I realize after watching the NBA every day all season long, this lean seems obvious to the loyal blog-folk, but quickly, the reasoning: Oklahoma City is coming off a narrow 2-point win over the Nets, a trademark sign of a look-ahead. The Thunder had blown out the Hornets prior to the game with Jersey (and as has been noted by Denmarkok, the Hornets are actually a very emotional opponent for the Thunder), and so that Nets game was really the sandwich. So far, so good - we leaned Thunder in the game against New Orleans, leaned Nets in the next one, and if the sandwich completes itself with another "bun", we like the Thunder here. Interestingly, Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko are both questionable, and even more interestingly, the Thunder might be the toughest opponent in the League for the Jazz. Utah has lost to Oklahoma twice already this year, though both of those games were back in 2009. The Thunder are stronger now, and the Jazz are on the last game of a road trip - they're coming off a loss in Milwaukee, which can also stifle momentum. And that is why the lean is as such on the side. The total feels high, since these teams have played fairly slow games both times this year, but perhaps oddsmakers believe one or two quarters end up as shootouts - tough to say, though I still think the importance of this game is going to cause Oklahoma to bring the defense, and keep this Under.

Hornets @ Suns - Phoenix by 8.5 with a total of 211.5. I'll take "Teams That Can't Cover" for $200, please. The Hornets have lost 7 straight, ATS. The Suns have lost 3 in a row. Which team will buckle first? There really isn't any value in this game, and my feelings that the Hornets just have nothing left in the tank are being confirmed. I'm doing this write-up early, because I would recommend staying away from the side in this game. These teams have indeed met 3 times already this year, and Phoenix has taken 2 of those 3, including the most recent meeting, February 1, in New Orleans. So, you could say there's a measure of revenge, but I happen to think this line is pretty accurate. Phoenix might bounce back off the tough loss to the Lakers and blow the Hornets out by 25, or there's about a 50/50 shot Phoenix has a letdown for, say, the first half of this one, the Hornets race out to a lead, and Phoenix has to battle to win by 5 or 6. I just don't like those odds - coin flips are long term losers, and I would recommend a No-Play on the side. On the total, well, the clear problem with liking the over is that the Hornets just haven't been scoring against anyone with a player listed over 6'10" on their team. The Hornets have eclipsed 100 points just 1 time in their last 10 games, and it was against the Warriors. They've scored exactly 100 points a few times in there, but for the most part, the tiring offense of New Orleans is leading to final scores in the mid-90's. That means we'd need 115 from Phoenix to get to the total, and I don't think the Suns are going to care to hang that kind of number. I lean Under.

Wolves @ Kings

Raptors @ Blazers - Portland by 8.5 with a total of 203. This game has one glaring angle that needs to be pursued -- the Raptors complete and utterly absurd inability to function on zero sleep. I mean, there are some bad teams in the NBA, and there are some very old, rickety teams in the NBA, and none of them compares to Toronto's ineptitude in these spots. They are 3-12 ATS in back-to-back games, and Toronto's not that awful overall. They're 29-33 ATS on the season, but a good deal of those recent losses came with Chris Bosh out. Bosh or no Bosh, Toronto loses by an average of almost 12 points when they're playing back-to-back games on the road, and by over 10 in all back-to-back spots. This also happens to be the final game of their current road trip before the long flight back to Canada, where we'll see Toronto take a couple days off before hosting the Hawks. To be perfectly fair, the value isn't great on either side in this game. The line of 8.5 is probably about a half-point of line value for the Raptors, if anything, and it really makes me wonder why we're getting such a fair line. It could have something to do with the focus on College ball right now, but sometimes it's best not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I lean Portland. I know it's a revenge game for Toronto, but let's be honest, how badly do the Raptors really want this game? On the total, I'm inclined to look at the Over, since Toronto's defense on back-to-back games is just abysmal.

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