Thursday, April 08, 2010

Combo Blog #4

No Graduation Day jitters for this guy! Tee-hee.

We'll tackle yesterday's recap in the order the games ended.

We nailed a hair-raising MLB underdog on the 1* Baltimore Orioles +150 to get off the snide in MLB. We did get a little lucky with Jeff Niemann getting nailed with a line drive, but Baltimore got a couple key hits with runners on base, built a lead, and squeaked out a tough winner.

The next game to end, only moments later, was the 1* Bulls play against the Cavaliers. Anyone that watched that one saw the heartbreaking end for our play, as Chicago went 0-for-4 at the free throw line, when even one of those unguarded shots would have given us a push, and 2 would have given us a win. Bottom line, tough luck, but the game was a good call by the oddsmakers, so we should give credit where credit's due.

Our final game was the 2* Best Bet on Sacramento -6.5. That game was never in doubt. Sacramento went up by 6 by the end of the first quarter, and led by double digits at halftime. The Clippers cut it to a 6-point deficit midway through the third quarter, but on back-to-back just ran out of steam, and Sacramento opened it back up to a 20-point game early in the 4th. Easy winner, and we needed it, since the first two games had my sweat glands working overtime.

Back to the grind today, now 9 of 11 winning days, 16-5 NBA run, and finally a hard-fought MLB winner yesterday gives me added confidence in the MLB today!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Bucks @ Sixers - Milwaukee by 4.5 with a total of 194.5. This line is pretty fair, all things considered. I'm just still waiting for Milwaukee to have that drop-off game with Bogut out. They played the Bulls tough and picked up a road win, then crushed the pathetic Nets at home. Sixers are all but fishing. Strangely, though, Philly seems to match up well with Milwaukee, as they've won 2 of 3 straight up. I want to try to find a way to like Milwaukee, but not with the strange numbers against Philly this year. No lean on the side. I do lean Under, though, as these teams have played some ugly games this year.

Knicks @ Magic - Orlando by 11.5 with a total of 211.5. The Magic have been steamrolling teams, but I'm just not sure if we see the full roster in this one. They play in Cleveland in their next game, which begs the question of how hard they play in, really, any game the rest of the way. We need to be careful who we bet on, but this feels like a spot where Orlando takes it easy. They have no reason to stomp, and the Knicks are finding ways to compete, or at least more than you'd expect. Not a great game to wager on, believe me, but if you had to make a play, certainly look to the team trying to end the season with a few positive vibes, the Knicks. The total of 211.5 definitely screams that Orlando isn't going to be too concerned with defense. This total might be inflated because of recent numbers, but I still think it just barely squeezes up and Over.

Wizards @ Celtics - Boston by 11.5 with a total of 194. Another monster spread. Boston, to me, looks pretty determined to grab that 3rd spot in the East, but then they suffer a letdown like they did in New York. Coming off getting drilled in Orlando, though, the Wizards are probably a decent value. In my opinion, it's too late in the season to take shots on bad road teams that are done for the season. The Wizards have nothing to play for, and again, if this game was occurring in January, it would be worth taking a shot, but Boston still has a reason to want this game, and Washington doesn't. The only downside to Boston is that they may be a tad tired, but at home they've been shooting very, very well. Tiniest lean to the Celtics, probably best to avoid. The total of 194 assumes Boston plays some defense, or Washington just stinks, because it isn't going to be a slugfest. I think it might sneak Over, but probably not confident enough to pull the trigger, here.

Pacers @ Cavaliers - This line is OFF. This one should be interesting, as the Cavaliers not named Lebron put up a heck of a fight in Chicago, including a ridiculous shooting effort from Mo Williams. Will Lebron play in this one? I'd say it's highly likely Lebron goes and Mo sits, or maybe Jamison and Zydrunas, or something. All that uncertainty makes this game very difficult to bet on, if but for the fact that the Pacers played the Cavs tough about 3 weeks ago, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this resurgent club play Cleveland tough again. They shoot the ball much better at home than on the road, and that's a point of concern, but I think they put up a good fight, and hopefully the name Lebron will inflate the line a bit. Slight lean to Indiana. I also have a slight lean to the Over, since we saw how little Cleveland cared about defense in the first half against Chicago - I don't think they play strong until the second half again tonight.

Raptors @ Hawks - This line is OFF. Word is that Bosh won't play again during the regular season, and now that Toronto and Chicago are tied for the 8th playoff spot, this game is going to mean a ton. However, if you recall, Toronto had to try to play a few games without Bosh earlier this season, and it was a travesty. Toronto played well for one game without Bosh before, but not this time. They're dejected, and now they have to tackle one of the best home teams in the entire NBA. I'm not saying Atlanta blows them out, but Toronto most likely will not win this game, and I don't like backing an underdog that I don't think has a respectable shot to win the game. Slight lean to Atlanta, coming home off an embarrassing performance in Charlotte and another in Detroit. The health of Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby makes a big difference, though, so be careful. I think Toronto pushes the pace, and I believe this one has a decent shot to go Over, if Atlanta's healthy, once again.

Pistons @ Heat - This line is OFF. Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey are questionable, and we've seen Miami manhandle the Pistons repeatedly, because really, Miami is just a souped up version of Detroit. Better wing players, better defense, and same, boring, slow basketball. And if Detroit is without their only player that can effectively drive the ball, if Miami is focused, this could be a long night. Miami played somewhat unfocused basketball in a narrow home win over the Sixers, but I don't think they take Detroit so lightly. If this line is less than 11.5, Miami might actually be a value, believe it or not. I'd most likely pass on another huge line, but in another gun-to-head situation, lean to Miami. The total might be a play, depending on the line. Both games in this series have been painfully low-scoring, and by all indications this should be, too, so let's see where the line opens up, and then assess any potential value.

Bulls @ Nets - Chicago by 5.5 with a total of 195.5. Fishiest line on the board, anyone? Chicago is coming off that wildly exhausting game last night at home against Cleveland, and just finally got even with the Raptors in the race for the final playoff spot. Now, they have to head on the road to play a team that wouldn't get a high school team's adrenaline going. You'd think that with Chicago coming off beating the Cavs, they would draw some love, even if they didn't cover. But watching the Bulls down the stretch last night, they were clearly tired, and I just feel like the Nets are in a rare position of power here, and can take advantage of a team that won't have the energy to go the full 48. Now, does that mean you play on Jersey? Not really, since Chicago definitely has more on the motivation side, and that makes this one a little disconcerting. Still, I can't back Chicago, here. Tiny lean to Jersey. The total of 195.5 is pretty accurate, but I expect Chicago to really try to get buckets near the rim with tired legs. I lean slightly Over, but barely.

Lakers @ Wolves - This line is OFF. The Lakers should be good and exhausted off a very late TNT game in Denver, then the substantial flight to Minnesota means we'll probably see some starters sitting in this one. Do the Wolves want to fight? I would argue that this game is the last reason for fans to actually come to the arena. The Wolves end their season with a home game against the Pistons, but come on. I think the fans will come out to see Kobe and the Lakers, even if the game is meaningless, and it makes me think that Minny will play about as hard as humanly possible. It might not be enough, though. Be careful here. This is another game where it would have been a no-brainer on Minnesota in January, but we just have no way of knowing who is going to play and who on Minnesota is going to try. Slight lean to the Wolves. On the total, the Lakers should get caught up in the running, at least for a half. I lean Over.

Suns @ Thunder - Oklahoma City by 3.5 with a total of 222. This should be an interesting one. Each team has won the road game in the series thus far, so this is the series decider, and both teams have a ton to play for as the West gets set for the playoffs. For that reason, I don't think this game is worth betting. I know, everyone wants to bet on the exciting game, but when both teams are motivated, and neither has much value due to all the publicity they're each getting, it's important to know when to step back and look for value elsewhere. I strongly advise a Pass on the side, UNLESS we see some obscene line movement. On the total of 222, well, you just have to know that number is inflated because of recent games for the Thunder. Strong lean to the Under.

Jazz @ Hornets - Utah by 6.5 with a total of 208.5. Utah is coming off an ugly game in Houston, where they simply had no juice in those legs off the overtime win against the Thunder. But today, against a Hornets team without Chris Paul, this one could get ugly quick. I know I rarely advocate backing the road chalk, so maybe I should start using these paragraphs as reasons to talk folks out of backing the home team. I know in the middle of the season, it's one bird, but the Hornets have nothing to play for, they got that one key home win over the Lakers, and now they're just riding out the stretch without their floor leader. Utah is still fighting for playoff position, and motivationally, they have a huge edge here. Lean to Utah, despite it being the clear public side. Lean to the Under, as well, since I don't see the Paul-less Hornets being able to muster the strength to power up more than 95. We saw them push the pace for about 3 weeks the first time Paul went down, then it caught up with them. I honestly just don't believe the Hornets have the mental fortitude to keep playing hard with so many letdowns this year.

Grizzlies @ Spurs - San Antonio by 10.5 with a total of 200. Wow, 10.5? That's a ton. I would love to back the Spurs in this game, since, again, they're battling with Portland and Oklahoma, among others, for positioning down in the lower half of the West, but to have to win by more than double digits is asking quite a lot. The Grizzlies are coming off getting stomped in Dallas, and it looks like they've about given up for the season. The Spurs are coming off a loss in Phoenix where they were clearly tired, and Manu Ginobili appeared to be more pooped than anyone. I expect him to come back and hit the Grizzlies right in the mug, but I'm not sure this is a bad enough spot for Memphis to expect them to lose by 20 points in two straight games. Teeny, tiny lean to Spurs, but I'd advise a pass on this side. The total of 200 assumes that Memphis can score. That's questionable, given their awful performance in Dallas. I don't think the Grizzlies play much defense, so the Spurs should break 100, but will Memphis break 95? This total looks accurate to me, as I think this one ends right around 202.

Bobcats @ Rockets - This line is OFF. I must say, I'm surprised at how close Charlotte's game with New Orleans was. I'm not sure if it was the lingering effects of clubbing the Hawks the night before, but the Hornets really gave the Bobcats a run for their money. Admittedly, we know Charlotte is not that strong on the road, and that's why I fear this game. They have all the motivation to want this one, but the Rockets are suddenly canning buckets like nobody's business. Let's see where this line comes out, but I'm guessing it won't be a good deal for anyone. No lean on the side. Houston's offensive prowess lately makes me think the Over might be in play.

Mavericks @ Blazers - Portland by 4 with a total of 192. Portland for the season sweep? It seems quite possible. We know Dallas is damn tough on the road, so if there's any chance of Dallas avoiding the dubious distinction of losing all 4 games to the Blazers this year, this would clearly be the spot to do it. Portland has the exact type of guys that bother the Mavericks, that's the bottom line. Sometimes there are teams that just match up very poorly, and for the Mavs, that team is Portland. Dirk has trouble with long, athletic defenders like Nicolas Batum and Lamarcus Aldridge, and even if he gets by those guys, Marcus Camby's long arms are patrolling the paint, and can bother Dirk's high-arching shot. I lean to Portland to grab that win, but this one should be relatively close to the line, I think. On the total, the last time these teams played, they scored over 110 points in the first half, and about 80 in the second half. There's a reason this number is so low. Oh and Dirk is apparently playing through a wrist injury. Lean to the Under.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Padres @ Rockies (-180) with a total of 9.5; C. Richard vs. J. De La Rosa;
Scott Hairston, of all people, is 5-for-7 with 2 HR and 6 RBI of De La Rosa;
Troy Tulowitzki is 2-for-3 off Clayton Richard with 1 HR and 3 RBI;
Todd Helton is 3-for-4 off Richard.
The crowd should be pretty amped, and we know De La Rosa had a home ERA over 5 last year with a road mark closer to 3. This line is inflated, so there's value with the Padres, but I just don't know if I trust Richard to keep them in this thing. I happen to like the Over more than the sides.

Braves (-130) @ Giants with a total of 8; T. Hudson vs. J. Sanchez;
In limited exposure to Sanchez, Yunel Escobar is 3-for-6, Brian McCann is 3-for-7, Chipper Jones is 2-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI, and Nate McLouth is 3-for-7 with 1 HR;
Aaron Rowand is 7-for-15 off Tim Hudson, and Mark DeRosa is 3-for-6.
I'm a little amazed that Hudson is getting this kind of road love when he'll likely only go 5-6 innings max. Sanchez isn't great, he might not even be good, but the Giants were a very good home team last year, and have a solid bullpen. Lean to the Giants, no lean on the total.

Cubs @ Reds (-135) with a total of 9.5; C. Silva vs. H. Bailey;
Alfonso Soriano is a perfect 3-for-3 with a HR off Bailey, and Derrek Lee is 3-for-5;
Orlando Cabrera has faced Silva plenty, and is 9-for-his-last-22 with a HR.
These starters don't have many numbers against the current rosters here, and to be this isn't a bad price to get fading Silva and fading a Cubs team with a weaker-than-average bullpen. Slight lean to Cincy, and slight lean to Over, since it feels like the Reds will want to put up some numbers against a starter not on the vaunted Cardinals staff.

Nationals @ Mets (-171) with a total of 9; G. Mock vs. M. Pelfrey;
Ian Desmond is 3-for-6 with a HR off Mike Pelfrey, and Willy Taveras is 4-for-10 off him;
Josh Willingham is batting .412 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Pelfrey;
Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo are each 3-for-4 off Garrett Mock.
Tough to trust either of these guys, though spacious CitiField should favor the pitchers just a little. I'm not sure I've got enough gusto favor either side or anything on the total here.

Dodgers (-120) @ Marlins with a total of 9; H. Kuroda vs. C. Volstad;
Casey Blake is 2-for-2 off Volstad with a HR, but that's about it for the Dodgers;
Jorge Cantu is 3-for-8 off Kuroda with a HR, and Cody Ross is 3-for-9 with a HR.
We've seen all too well what the Marlins bullpen can do, so you can understand the odds, here, but the Dodgers haven't been too impressive on the mound yet, either. Kuroda is a battler, so this game strikes me as one that could be close.

Phillies (-155) @ Astros with a total of 8.5; J. Happ vs. B. Norris;
Bud Norris pitched well against Philadelphia in his only effort, holding them to a pair of solo shots.
We've seen the Astros offense without Lance Berkman - they are sad. I don't like heavy road chalk on the #4 starter, but maybe the Under is worth a look if Houston can't crack 3 runs?

Cardinals (-120) @ Brewers with a total of 9.5; K. Lohse vs. D. Bush;
Here comes the list - Ryan Ludwick is 4-for-12 off Dave Bush, Yadier Molina has homered 3 times in 16 AB, Albert Pujols is batting .353 off Bush, Brendan Ryan is 3-for-5, and Skip Schumaker is 6-for-15;
Ryan Braun is 6-for-15 with a HR and Craig Counsell is batting .421 off Lohse.
Lohse has better numbers against some of the "new" Brewers than he did against some of the folks in years past. I still think we may be in line for an Over, more than anything else.

Pirates @ Diamondbacks (-135) with a total of 10; C. Morton vs. R. Lopez;
Not much exposure, but Aki Iwamura is 2-for-3, Bobby Crosby is 3-for-5 with a HR, and Ryan Church is 3-for-6 off Lopez;
Conor Jackson is 2-for-3, Gerardo Parra homered in 1-of-3 AB off Morton, and Mark Reynolds is 2-for-5.
Charlie Morton has some of the most movement on his pitches of anyone on the Pirates staff, but he can be both amazing and awful. What do we know about Rodrigo Lopez? This line is probably fairly accurate - slight lean to the Over.

American League

Indians @ Tigers (-145) with a total of 9.5; D. Huff vs. R. Porcello;
Travis Hafner has the only HR off Porcello on the team;
Rick Porcello is 3-0, 1.80 ERA against Cleveland in just one season.
This is a pretty reasonable price for a solid young pitcher - the concern is that Detroit's pen is pretty beat up just after one series. Too good to be true? Potentially, but I lean Detroit. Cleveland's offense doesn't inspire fear in me, I think this sneaks Under.

Blue Jays @ Orioles (-135) with a total of 9.5; B. Morrow vs. B. Bergesen;
Vernon Wells is 3-for-6 off Bergesen;
Brad Bergesen is 1-0 against the Jays, 3.55 ERA;
Cesar Izturis, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Luke Scott all have a hit off Brandon Morrow in 1 or 2 AB.
This might end up being a better pitched game than people expect. I don't really "trust" either starter, though Bergesen at least has a little experience. I lean Under, believe it or not.

Yankees (-120) @ Rays with a total of 9; J. Vazquez vs. D. Price;
Alex Rodriguez is 3-for-9 with a HR off Price;
David Price is 1-0, 2.25 ERA against the vaunted Yanks;
B.J. Upton is 6-for-12 off Vazquez, and Carl Crawford is 7-for-19.
This, to me, shapes up as a pretty fantastic game - I like the Under, but I also think in an epic battle, David Price throws too many pitches early, and that makes the difference. I'd avoid the side.

Mariners @ Rangers (-145) with a total of 9.5; J. Vargas vs. Colby Lewis;
Franklin Gutierrez has 1 AB off Lewis, and he hit a 3-run HR;
Michael Young is 3-for-5 off Jason Vargas, and Taylor Teagarden, Chris Davis, and Nelson Cruz have each homered off Vargas.
I don't like either of these starters, and I happen to think Vargas's struggles with Texas play a large part in this line being relatively high. Lay off the side, maybe consider the Over, though the Mariners offense hasn't really impressed yet.

Red Sox (-160) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; T. Wakefield vs. K. Davies;
Marco Scutaro is 5-for-8 off Davies with 2 HR;
Victor Martinez is 4-for-12 with a HR;
Kyle Davies is 1-0, 0.00 ERA against Boston - yep, I know...
Yuny Betancourt is 5-for-13 off Wakefield with a HR, and Rick Ankiel is 2-for-4.
Of all the guys in the League to have blanked the Sox, Kyle Davies? Yes, but the Sox added Scutaro, Davies-killer. The Royals bullpen makes this game a no-play on the side and on the total, though that pen certainly gives some credence to the Over.

Twins @ White Sox (-145) with a total of 8.5; F. Liriano vs. J. Danks;
Yikes to the Twins success against Danks: Michael Cuddyer is 16-for-30 with 5 HR and 11 RBI, Brendan Harris is 9-for-27, Jason Kubel is batting .318 with 1 HR and 9 RBI, Joe Mauer is batting .345, Morneau .308 with 3 HR and 9 RBI.
Francisco Liriano is 0-3, 7.52 ERA against the White Sox;
Alexei Ramirez is 3-for-5, and Paul Konerko is 3-for-9 with 2 HR and 6 RBI.
Liriano gave up 12 runs in 8.1 innings last year while trying to get some strength and command back, but everything you read says he's got the velocity back, and he's simply not a 7.52 ERA pitcher. This looks like a classic case of perception clouding value - lean to Minnesota. The Over is the obvious choice, but I'd be wary of oddsmakers bringing this line out under 9.

Athletics @ Angels (-150) with a total of 9.5; G. Gonzalez vs. M. Palmer;
Extremely limited numbers on both sides, though we've seen flashes of brilliance from Gonzalez, and mostly just middling, consistently "okay" efforts from Palmer. I know the A's are bad, but not sure Palmer deserves to be a -150 cat. No real lean on the side. Something tells me these guys pitch above themselves early in the year, and I'm eying the Under.

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