Monday, November 29, 2010

Backdoored Heat

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Boston Celtics (-6.5) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 194.5;
If you want to talk about a team potentially looking past an opponent...it's not who you'd expect! Most of the time when we talk about look-aheads, we're referring to the good team looking past the bad one. Not so much, here. The Boston Celtics play host to Portland tomorrow night, but there's no real rivalry there, and Portland's ongoing health concerns have, to some degree, dropped them out of the elite teams and dropped them back into what I suppose we can refer to as the top of the regular class. Meanwhile, Cleveland hosts Boston tonight, then, after a night to burn posters and spoof Nike ads, Cleveland hosts LeBron and the distressed Heat on Thursday night. We've already heard that the "Q" is going to have greater security for that game with the Heat, and if the rest of the universe is talking about a Cavs game 3 days away (or 2 by the time most of you read this), then I don't think we're going out on a limb to suggest that some of LeBron's former teammates might be looking to that one, as well. Add to that the fact that Boston rolled into Cleveland in their 2nd game of the regular season, sluggish as tree sloths after a season-opening win over the Heat, and you've got revenge on Boston's side. Yep, you heard right - I like the public CELTICS in this one, and the UNDER.

Detroit Pistons @ Orlando Magic (-11) with a total of 192;
Both of these teams get tougher to figure out on a daily basis. One night, the Pistons hang tough with the Dallas Mavericks, only to lose (but cover) in the final few minutes. The next, Detroit gets blasted by the Grizzlies. The Pistons come home and throttle the Bucks, then lose to the Knicks in double-OT. Who shows up in this one? To Detroit's credit, they don't get much in the way of "easy buckets," so having to compete with Dwight Howard probably won't change their gameplan all that much. I guess that's a point for Detroit, but is it really? Both of these teams fire away from outside, so this cover could very well come down to who gets a few threes to drop. Over on the Orlando side, they beat the Heat (who hasn't?), got themselves an ATS push in a win over the Cavs, then narrowly clipped the Wizards. This team is equally unpredictable on a nightly basis. Put two unpredictable teams together and what do you get? That's right, a full diaper of fun. I do bring some tiny good news, though - these two teams play again in about 3 days, so we might be able to take something from this one and apply it to the next meeting. I'm pulling out the gun for this one, and with it pressed to the old noggin, I'd lean ORLANDO and the OVER.

Portland Trailblazers (-3) @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of 192;
Portland is quietly turning into a bit of a mess. After opening the year 4-1, this team is just 8-8 on the season, and only 2-5 in their last 7 games. The Blazers are coming off a very poor defensive showing in a 98-96 loss at New Jersey as a 4-point road favorite, and with every loss, the pressure mounts. I'm not about to go out on a limb and back a struggling Blazers team, even if it's against one of those weird NBA clubs that has plenty of talent but stinks, regardless. Yes, I'm calling you out, Sixers. If it's some small consolation for Philadelphia, at least they're worse on the road than at home this season. Philadelphia is coming off a nice win over those same Nets that just beat the Blazers, and while the transitive property would have the Sixers beating the Blazers, I expect this to be a pretty good game. Many will blindly back the Blazers, still viewing them as one of the best teams in the NBA, but injuries have really beaten this team down a peg or two, and they need to start grabbing wins where they can get them. Portland also heads to Boston for a back-to-back tomorrow, so we might be able to learn a little something about where the Blazers' focus is from this game. Still, if you're going to bet this game, I think you have to ride the momentum, which isn't necessarily on the side of Philadelphia, but it's nowhere to be found in Portland. Slight lean to PHILADELPHIA and the UNDER.

New Jersey Nets @ New York Knicks (-5) with a total of 202;
After taking a few on the chin in Knicks games last week, I'd be lying if I said I had a great bead on this team. The Knicks started draining threes at a ridiculous clip, and, figuring that statistic would have to regress, it just never did. The Knicks did post one poor shooting night against the Hawks, but outside of that one, they've been pretty consistently 40% or above from beyond the arc, and that's definitely going to get it done. Add to that the fact that they shoot more than a handful, and 40% on a ton of threes is like shooting 60% from 2-pt range. That is tough to beat. The Nets are playing decent team defense, and their slow, plodding pace is helping them take advantage of a solid post player in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris's ability to get near the bucket off the dribble. I'm sure Avery Johnson would like to get some better production from other guys, but a few treys from Anthony Morrow and some offensive rebounds from Kris Humphries will just have to do, for now. I happen to believe this line is pretty darn close to where it should be, but I'll go out on a limb and say that the Nets can't keep up, offensively, and give a tiny nod to the KNICKS and because this is only the 2nd Nets game with a total over 200, I'll take the OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers (-5) @ Memphis Grizzlies with a total of 204;
The Lakers are in that lull, again. This team is so damn streaky, and I keep saying in the blog, over and over again. Kudos to our buddy "Sink" for picking up on it and betting the Lakers to go on ATS runs. To put it in perspective, the Lakers have already had two 4-game ATS win streaks, and two 3-game ATS losing streaks, and after all that, are just 9-8 ATS overall. Well, they're in the midst of another 3-game ATS losing skid, but I can't help but wonder if that home loss to the Pacers was the wake-up call. Last time, a long road trip starting in Milwaukee woke them up. Will a 2-game trip to Memphis and Houston do the same, this time? Tough to say, though Memphis is likely to be fairly competitive. They're a stronger home team than road by a pretty wide margin, so while I wouldn't back the Grizzlies away from their building, this seems like a game they might get up for. Everyone always brings a big performance for the Lakers, and you know darn well that Memphis remembers the buzzer-beater Kobe put on them here, at home, in February of last year. Memphis was a 5.5-point underdog in that one, so this line is pretty close, but the fact that it's lower is a little disconcerting. Have we really lost a half-point of value because of the Lakers mini-skid? We need to start being a little more careful, but still a small lean to MEMPHIS and the OVER.

San Antonio Spurs (-4) @ Golden State Warriors with a total of 213;
The Warriors have quietly covered their last 2 games, and the return of David Lee has powered them back into a land of great confidence that they hadn't known while Lee was out. This is going to be a heck of a test for the Warriors, though, since the Spurs are playing like they're back to being the best in the League. Richard Jefferson is a factor, again, and Manu Ginobili is healthy for the first time in probably 3 years. George Hill is emerging as a solid guard, and Duncan is still Duncan. Golden State can score with most teams, but I just have trouble seeing how the Warriors stay out of foul trouble and win this game. This could very well end up being a close game, with the Spurs on a little west coast swing, and the Warriors working on 2 days of rest, but when I don't believe strongly that a particular team has a great shot to win the game, and is only getting 4 points, that's a tough roll of the dice. San Antonio has seemed will to run and score, so maybe the best idea here is to explore the total. This is a positively huge number for San Antonio, their highest total of the season by a full 1.5 points. Does that mean it's going over, or does that mean we have value playing the under? Tough game, all around. Small lean to the SPURS, and tiny lean to the OVER.

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