Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Combo Blog #2

We're knee deep in combo-sport style after just one day with three plays going in the books yesterday.

Our TOP PLAY was an easy winner on the Charlotte Bobcats, who stormed out to a 20-point lead against the Hawks, and despite giving Atlanta some life, the cover was never really in jeopardy. At the time, that moved our NBA run to 13-4, and 5-0 since Saturday.

The next play to finish was our Free NBA selection on the Spurs-Kings Under, which was also a relatively easy winner, that game finishing at 181 combined points, 13 below our number of 194. That moved the NBA run to 14-4 and 6-0.

Unfortunately, we ended the day with a rather anemic offensive output from the Angels, and thanks to an early double-play grounder, Nick Blackburn of the Twins was able to settle in, and giving credit where credit's due, the Twins just pitched a hell of a game. Just one MLB play; quite a few to go, and still a plus-money day.

I know you're all chomping at the bit for Combo day number two, so let's get after it!

Sports Wagering NBA

Celtics @ Raptors - Boston by 1 with a total of 208. Toronto needs this one like you wouldn't even believe. I know the table was set for a clunker in Cleveland yesterday, as all the potentially resting starters threw the Raptors for a loop, but I honestly believe that with both teams on back-to-back, and Boston playing on the road, in Canada, with very little to prove, you've got to think Toronto finally wins an important one. If not now, when? However, the elbow to Chris Bosh's face last night puts a wrinkle into things. If Bosh plays, I like Toronto, if not, the air might come out of the balloon completely. On the total, this looks awfully high, but with both teams tired, we might see some fast-breaking. I think this total is accurate, and I'd advise a pass.

Knicks @ Pacers - Indiana by 8 with a total of 218. Knicks are coming off a sweet home upset of the Boston Celtics, but something tells me they get their comeuppance in this one. The Pacers are straight dominating teams at home, including a 30+ point win over the Rockets on Sunday. Bottom line, Indiana is dangerous, especially against a team that's not playing any defense. New York is just 6-10 ATS on back-to-backs, and they chuck a ton of threes, so to be playing without rest, and coming off a tough home win over the Celts is very difficult. I have no choice, I'm afraid, despite the fact that the value isn't all that great, but to lean to Indy. This total is inflated, but it might very well get there. I know the Pacers have been playing better defense, lately, and I wonder if this one doesn't sneak just Under the total, and we're talking about just barely.

Sixers @ Heat - This line is OFF. The Sixers got stomped last night, at home, by the Pistons. If you want to see a team that has all but given up on the season, Philly appears to be right there. Miami has locked down on defense in both games this year against the Sixers, though the obvious concern here is that the line is going to be quite large, with Philly on back-to-back, and Miami rested. The Heat are a nice bet, as they've won 8 in a row, and crush teams with defense, allowing them to win by double digits pretty often. This line is probably going to be too big to bet, but I have to lean Heat at this stage of the season, especially since they can lock up the 5th spot with a few more wins. Lean to Miami, and lean to the Under; Miami is imposing its will on teams, and Philly is going to have a whale of a time hitting jumpers when completely exhausted.

Hawks @ Pistons - This line is OFF. I'm actually a little confused as to what to expect here. I feel like the Hawks got caught by surprise by a strong, tenacious Bobcats team that seemed to want the win more than Atlanta expected. Also, the injuries to the Hawks regulars (Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby) clearly took a toll as the youngster Teagues was ill-prepared for the Bobcats' level of intensity. That won't be the case again, here. I know it's a public play, but I actually happen to think the Hawks, who just barely snuck by the Pistons at home, will come out and just stomp Detroit right from the outset. Detroit has no gas on back-to-back games, and Atlanta's strength and size is going to be awfully tough for the Pistons to deal with, not to mention Detroit shot 63% last night in Philadelphia. Lean to the Hawks, and with both teams playing ultra high-scoring games last night, this total is going to come out inflated. Lean to the Under.

Nets @ Bucks - Milwaukee by 8 with a total of 190. Milwaukee played way above themselves in a huge road win over Chicago last night, and now they come home and are only laying 8 points to the Nets, courtesy of the back-to-back 2-point shift and the fact that they're playing without Andrew Bogut, and believe it or not, I happen to think they get the job done. Milwaukee has absolutely crushed New Jersey this season, and we saw the kind of effort they gave in Washington. The Nets are playing with a little purpose at home, but they don't look all that concerned with competing on the road. On top of that, Milwaukee has disposed of the Nets like the refuse they are in every meeting this year. One team just knows how to stop the other, lean to the Bucks. The total of 190 will likely come down as a result of Milwaukee's low-scoring game with Chicago, and unfortunately, that takes the value out of it. I liked the Under in the past tense, but once this thing drops, which it very likely will, we might be out of luck on the value side of things.

Wizards @ Magic - Orlando by 14.5 with a total of 194. Washington is coming off a nice home win over Golden State, and has actually played well in a few in a row. This is just too many points no matter what teams are playing. It's Washington or nothing, but there's easily a 50/50 shot that Orlando blows Washington right out of the water. I'd pass on this side. The total of 194 is probably pretty accurate, though I get the feeling on back-to-back, the Wizards might struggle to break 85. With that in mind, I'd have to err towards the Under, though the Magic could easily half-ass this one, and let Washington have some easy buckets early.

Warriors @ Timberwolves - This line is OFF. This game intrigues me, and I'd love to see a line. The Warriors got thumped in Washington last night, as they just didn't shoot the ball well, and seemed to be in a strange daze. I'm a little nervous for such a short-handed team playing on the back-to-back in Minnesota. We know the Warriors want this game quite a bit, since they play the Clippers next, and wins against Minnesota and LA would give Don Nelson the record for most wins for a Coach. Still, Minnesota has been playing a little bit better, covering 4 of 5 games, and I fear they might actually play to win this one at home. Still, I can't fight against the motivational angle, and I think the Warriors lay it on the line to tie the record. Lean to Golden State. This total could be outrageously high. I wouldn't touch it.

Nuggets @ Thunder - Oklahoma by 3 with a total of 211. This line is going to come down, courtesy of the Thunder's overtime loss (and non-call) against the Utah Jazz. Going into this game, I loved Oklahoma, but with overtime as an issue, this is probably a game I'd avoid. It's tough to know if Oklahoma City is going to truly bring it, try to outscore the Nuggets, or really, how they're going to play this one. We know Denver's not that great on the road, but they have won 2 in a row, and considering the home team has had a huge edge in this series, this seems like a great spot to take a pass. Still, it's tough to imagine the Thunder having the energy to compete with even a middling road team like Denver, so I have to switch my lean over to the Nuggets. I know, blasphemy. On the total, look for this number to jump due to the crazy score in Oklahoma's game with Utah last night. I wouldn't touch this total with someone else's money.

Bobcats @ Hornets - This line is OFF. This is a confusing one. The Bobcats are coming off a solid home win over the Hawks, but we know how poorly they've played on the road this year. We also know how solid the Bobcats have been in fatigue spots, so we have two contradicting situational angles, here. The Hornets appear to be about done with this season, making sure no one gets hurt and just sort of playing out the string. It's been pretty ugly the last 3 games, too. With apologies to Hornets fans, I just can't back this team right now, and we should get a decent number with the Bobcats having played last night. Lean to Charlotte to try to sneak into a 6th or 5th seed in the East. I happen to think Charlotte plays a lower-scoring game on the road, here, and I don't know that New Orleans will contribute many points to the cause. I'd probably avoid the total, since Charlotte is scoring more lately, but I do lean Under if we must make a selection.

Grizzlies @ Mavericks - Dallas by 8 with a total of 204. I don't like this side one bit. The Grizzlies are coming off losing to the Rockets again last night, now on the road on back-to-back with nothing left to play for. We might very well see Memphis roll over and play dead. We might also see them give max effort for just one more night. It's a tough call. For Dallas, this game actually means something as they fight for 2nd place in the West. Utah won last night, and Denver is playing in Oklahoma, so Dallas has a nice shot to put a little separation between itself and at least one other team fighting for 2nd. Maybe not, maybe they just keep pace, or maybe they lose. Memphis has played Dallas tough in all 3 meetings this year, but something about this one feels different. I lean Dallas, yes, even though they're at home. I also lean Over, as I can't see Memphis playing the same intensity of defense as they did in the last meeting, and Dallas will knock down some shots.

Jazz @ Rockets - Utah by 5 with a total of 214. This line will be dropping a point or two, thanks to overtime, so middle away, if you so desire. Houston got another win over the Grizzlies to finish a road trip, but we've seen how pathetic they've been on back-to-back situations this year, now 5-15 ATS. The Jazz should be pretty fatigued, as well, but they get layups while Houston shoots threes, and we all know what's tougher to make when your legs are tired. The Jazz are 12-4-1 ATS on back-to-back games, a good indicator that they get guys open no matter how tired they are, and they make those easy buckets. I wish I could say different, but once again, I lean to the team playing for something, and that's the Jazz, especially once this line drops a little. That total is going to be quite inflated from both teams' games last night, and I happen to think we see fewer points than most expect, and I lean to the Under.

Spurs @ Suns - Phoenix by 5.5 with a total of 212. Tough spot for the Spurs, as they did have to play at almost full speed to get by the Kings. Yeah, they ended up winning by a healthy margin and covering the spread, but San Antonio had to work for every bucket, and the flight from Sacramento to Phoenix isn't all that quick. This should be a tired Spurs team. The issue, of course, is that the Suns are playing their first game home off a 4-1 Midwest road trip. They had 3 days off to practice and gameplan, so that might counteract the effects of the first game home, but do be careful here. I can't see the Spurs keeping up all night, so I do lean Suns, but line movement is going to be key here. The total of 212 is pretty accurate, though without a point guard, I'm not sure the Spurs can break 105, so the Suns are going to have to get over 110 to clear that number. I'm not a fan of the total, but I lean just a tiny bit to the Over.

Trailblazers @ Clippers - This line is OFF. With the playoff chase so hot in the West, this might be one of those rare games where I don't really see a problem with backing road chalk. The only recent losses for Portland have come in Phoenix and in Denver (twice) - inspired competition and/or altitude sickness playing a large role. However, Portland just continues to clobber weak opponents, home and road, and they've been dispatching of these teams handily. I happen to think this line is going to come out too high to consider either side, really, but there's just no way the Clippers are a good play at this time of year, regardless of line. Tiniest possible lean to Portland. The Clippers also can't seem to score against a team playing anything resembling defense, which makes me think the Under is a distinct possibility, but we need to see where this line comes out, since Portland could score 105 themselves.

Sports Wagering: MLB

American League

Orioles @ Rays (-210) with a total of 9.5
Adam Jones is 4-for-10 with 1 HR and 2 RBI off Matt Garza;
Miguel Tejada is 5-for-10 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Garza, as well;
Matt Garza is 6-1, 2.92 ERA against Baltimore, though Tejada should help the O's;
Carlos Pena is 6-for-16 off Jeremy Guthrie with a HR and 4 RBI;
B.J. Upton is 8-for-21 off Guthrie with 1 HR and 8 RBI.
Not a monster advantage on either side, given the steep price, probably a game to avoid; I was looking for a way to lean Over, but the high total makes that tough.

Yankees @ Red Sox (-140) with a total of 10
Derek Jeter is batting .357 off John Lackey in 28 AB with 1 HR and 5 RBI since 2005;
Jorge Posada is 9-for-16 off Lackey, Mark Teixeira is 12-for-33, and Randy Winn is 5-for-15;
Adrian Beltre, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz, and Kevin Youkilis all have career averages over .300 against Andy Pettite.
I'm not sure we can trust either starter to crush, and instead I would suggest watching both guys throw a game to see how they look.

Blue Jays @ Rangers (-175) with a total of 9
These current Jays haven't seen much of Harden, but Vernon Wells is 1-for-2 with a dinger;
Brian Tallet is 1-2, 2.75 ERA against Texas;
Josh Hamilton is 2-for-3 off Tallet, with 2 HR and 3 RBI.
Given Tallet's decent numbers against Texas, it's tough not to at least give a slight lean to Toronto. No real lean on the total, this game could easily be 3-2 or 10-8.

Indians @ White Sox (-165) with a total of 8.5
In limited action, Grady Sizemore is a perfect 3-for-3 off Jake Peavy with a HR;
No real power numbers for Chicago, but Paul Konerko, Mark Kotsay, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Teahen have all enjoyed success (.370+ BA) against Fausto Carmona.
I would love to back the White Sox, but the price might be too high. As for Carmona, let's see how the head-case looks in his first start before leaping in, side or total.

Tigers (-140) @ Royals with a total of 9
Our first official case of "ownage" - Miguel Cabrera is 8-for-9 (.889 BA!) off Luke Hochevar;
Carlos Guillen is 4-for-10 with a HR and 3 RBI;
Mitch Maier is 3-for-3 off Max Scherzer, and Jose Guillen is 2-for-3 in their brief meeting.
This is a heck of a price to pay for an unestablished youngster on the road. Scherzer is nasty, but not -140 road chalk nasty. He's still a strikeout pitcher, which means bullpen work, and I think the Over might be the best value here.

Twins @ Angels (-145) with a total of 10
Joe Mauer is 10-for-17 with a HR and 7 RBI off Ervin Santana;
Justin Morneau is 5-for-15 with 2 HR and 7 RBI off Santana since 2005;
Orlando Hudson is 2-for-6, Nick Punto is 6-for-14, and Denard Span is 4-for-11 off Santana;
Bobby Abreu is 2-for-3 off Carl Pavano, Torii Hunter is 2-for-5, Kendry Morales is 2-for-3 with 2 HR, Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera are both 2-for-5 with 1 HR, Brandon Wood is 1-for-2 with a HR.
This looks ugly all around, so this side is a mess. Those career numbers for the position players are even scarier for the starters - slight lean to the Over.

Mariners @ Athletics (-120) with a total of 7.5
Kurt Suzuki is 6-for-15 lifetime off Ryan Rowland-Smith
No real interesting numbers in this one, but would love to see Duchscherer in action once before backing him - awfully low total on this game, too, which draws my attention. Do oddsmakers feel both starters will pitch well? It seems so.

National League

Rockies @ Brewers (-115) with a total of 9
Dexter Fowler is 2-for-4 with 2 HR off Doug Davis;
Todd Helton is 5-for-11 with 1 HR and 5 RBI since 2005 off Davis;
Seth Smith is 3-for-5, Ian Stewart is 3-for-8 with a HR, and Troy Tulowitzki is 6-for-17 off Davis;
Aaron Cook is career 6-2, 3.02 ERA as a starter against the Brewers;
Ryan Braun is 4-for-8 with a HR off Cook;
Jim Edmonds is a ridiculous 7-for-12 with 2 HR off Cook.
Some solid offensive numbers for the Rox against Doug Davis make them a nice deal, assuming Cook has his sinker and can deal with rickety old Jim Edmonds. This game has that afternoon feel of teams getting off to quick starts, then doing nothing from the 3rd inning on.

Giants (-140) @ Astros with a total of 7.5
Mark DeRosa is 3-for-7 off Brett Myers, Bengie Molina is 2-for-3, and Edgar Renteria is 7-for-20 with 2 HR off Myers;
Carlos Lee is 5-for-8 with a HR off Matt Cain.
Brett Myers is still playing? If the Astros had any offense, I'd suggest the Over, but as it is, you have to at least look at the Giants with Cain on the hill, even at the high price.

Dodgers (-145) @ Pirates with a total of 8
Manny Ramirez is 2-for-2 off Ross Ohlendorf, but really, almost no true historical stats to use in this one, on either side.
Clayton Kershaw is a budding superstar, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this line rise. It's expensive, but you have to think the Dodgers bounce back. Kershaw is dangerous - if he's wild, he'd have to leave early, but this one might actually stay Under.

Phillies (-170) @ Nationals with a total of 9
Cole Hamels, for all his troubles, is 7-3, 2.30 ERA against the Nats;
Chase Utley is 7-for-15 off Jason Marquis with 3 RBI, and Jayson Werth is a perfect 4-for-4 with 1 HR;
Alberto Gonzalez is 4-for-8 off Hamels;
Adam Dunn is just 1-for-12 off Hamels, a big bat for Hamels to keep quiet.
At this price, the Phillies are an awful value, especially if Hamels shows any signs of his struggles from 2009 - it's Nats or nothing here, and Marquis is a competitor. This total is tough, as we still don't know enough about the Nats offense from one game against Halladay - slight expectation of an Over.

Cubs @ Braves (-165) with a total of 8
Chad Tracy is 4-for-7 lifetime off Jurrjens with a HR and 5 RBI;
Mike Fontenot, Derrek Lee, Xavier Nady, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Ryan Theriot each have at least one hit off Jurrjens in limited exposure;
Ryan Dempster is 2-10 in his career against the Braves - yes, two and ten;
That being said, the current Braves haven't had much success against him - Nate McLouth is 5-for-15 with a HR and 3 RBI, and that's about it.
Consider Jurrjens' history, this seems like a pretty sultry deal on Chicago - let's keep our eyes peeled. That total seems too low, if Jurrjens struggles at all, so I'm watching the Over.

Marlins (-125) @ Mets with a total of 8.5
Jorge Cantu is 6-for-15 off John Maine with 3 RBI;
Ricky Nolasco has been very hit-or-miss against NYM, going 3-6, 5.99 ERA against them;
David Wright is batting over .350 off Nolasco with 3 HR and 8 RBI since 2005;
Luis Castillo is 6-for-14 off Nolasco, Jeff Francoeur is batting .304 with 2 HR, and Angel Pagan is 3-for-6.
Ricky Nolasco has nasty, nasty stuff, but it's the first start of the season, the Marlins pen is the huge weak link, and Nolasco is a strikeout pitcher. I'd look to the home dog at this price. No feelings on the total, at least not yet - too many questions.

Cardinals (-145) @ Reds with a total of 8
Skip Schumaker is 5-for-11 off Johnny Cueto;
Jay Bruce is 1-for-3 with a HR off Adam Wainwright.
It's really surprising how little these pitchers have faced the opposing batters, but we know the kind of damage Wainwright can do. Be careful on the side, that's my best advice. Cueto is a decent pitcher, but let's see how he fares coming out of the gate. Same deal with the total.

Padres @ Diamondbacks (-145) with a total of 9.5
Gerardo Parra went 5-for-12 off Kevin Correia with 2 RBI;
Mark Reynolds has 2 HR in 26 AB, and Adam Laroche is 5-for-10.
Despite a few D'backs with decent numbers against Correia, he's clearly the better starter in this game, and what do we really know about Ian Kennedy? Nice value with the visitors, here. That's a high total for a Padres game, keep an eye on it, since both sides could put up 5 runs in Phoenix.

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