Monday, December 13, 2010

A Blazing Bag of Feces

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Philadelphia 76ers (-1) @ New Jersey Nets with a total of 185;
The Sixers have quietly started playing some solid basketball. They've won 5 of 7 SU, and they've covered 8 games in a row. Of course, that means oddsmakers are starting to consider actually catching up, and that's what has left us with this line. Interestingly, about 2 weeks ago these teams squared off in Philadelphia, and the Sixers were 1-point home favorites playing the second half of a back-to-back. So, by that account, oddsmakers were saying Philly and Jersey were equals. Now, in only 2 weeks, Philadelphia is 4 points better? That's some line inflation right there. Fact is, we don't know how the Sixers are going to play on the road. Most of their recent success has come in their own building, including winning 6 of 7 games, with the only loss coming to Boston. I'm not sure Philadelphia's success will translate out on the road. Jersey got Devin Harris back, a key cog in their slowly-improving machine, and I happen to believe his return will allow them to slog out a narrow win in a hard-fought game. Lean to JERSEY and the OVER.

Toronto Raptors @ Charlotte Bobcats (-4.5) with a total of 202.5;
If we're going to base this play entirely on recent play, which would seem to be the best course of action given the distinct lack of motivational, situational and scheduling angles between these two, then you have to give the nod to the Raptors. To Charlotte's credit, though, they have been playing a bit better at home, despite the hideous loss to Boston. Avenging an embarrassment at home is about the only angle at play, here. Toronto is coming off a crazy comeback win over the pathetic Pistons, and neither team is really tearing the roof off, though Toronto is making the best of a Jerryd Bayless experiment while Calderon is out. I'm having trouble convincing myself that either side makes a ton of sense, but given Charlotte scored just 63 points in its last game, I have to give the slight nod to the Bobcats to come out looking to take out some aggression on a much softer opponent. And, if we're looking for precedent, Charlotte played Boston 3 times last year, and got blown out in each. In 2 of the 3 games following, Charlotte covered, and the Bobcats did win the home game immediately thereafter in all three cases. The only factor holding us back is that Charlotte did beat Toronto in Canada back on November 10. Maybe more interesting is that this total is 9 points higher than the previous meeting, despite the last total only getting to 197. What? Very tough call, tiny lean to TORONTO, and lean to OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers @ Washington Wizards with a total of N/A;
Why write a full paragraph when a single sentence should suffice? Lakers still haven't turned it on, so why bother backing them? The Lakers have covered just 1 of their last 10 games, and until they start to show some sort of continuity on offense, I cannot, in good conscience, advise putting money on the Lakeshow. Besides, when healthy, the Wizards are actually a tough competitor at home. They've been dealing with a rash of nagging injuries, namely to the team's top guys, John Wall and Andray Blatche, but if healthy, this Wizards team can be a real nuisance. Washington has been playing a bunch of road games lately, so most people have forgotten their home/road splits, but just for a quick refresher course, the Wizards are 6-4 SU at home, and a perfectly terrible 0-12 on the road. If they're catching a ton of points here, and John Wall is healthy enough to beat Derek Fisher, lean to WASHINGTON (check injuries) and the UNDER.

Atlanta Hawks (-4.5) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 188;
Those Pistons, man. A complete and utter disaster on back-to-backs due to a lack of depth or any sort of interior presence, and generally a team that melts down late in the game since they go away from their offense and just start running ultra-slow isolation plays for guys that generally end up settling for a 20-footer. A total mess. But then, Detroit hasn't been that unbearable when rested at home. That being said, most of those home performances which can maybe result in wins tend to come against weaker opponents, and the Hawks are better than average. The Pistons also played the Hawks once this year, and, as they seem to do every game, combusted in the 4th quarter to lose a game by 9 that was actually pretty close. So, who the heck knows what to expect from Detroit. If you're going to play this game, I would strongly urge you to consider playing halves. Detroit tends to hang in there for 2-3 quarters, and the Hawks should be able to overpower Detroit late. In terms of the total this number is a full 8 points lower than the previous meeting, but given that we don't really know what either team wants to do on the tempo side of things, it's a tough play to make. Itsy bitsy lean to the OVER, and itsy bitsy lean to ATLANTA, if you absolutely must play a side.

Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets (-10) with a total of 203;
This line is crazy, to me, but maybe it's crazy for a reason. Is Houston, a 9-14 team, really 7 points better than anyone? Possibly. Houston has been playing better lately, going 6-4 SU in their last 10 ballgames after starting the year horrifically slowly. And it hasn't been a super-easy stretch, either, with Houston garnering key wins over the Lakers, the Thunder and the Grizzlies in that span. The Kings are easily the League's worst team, and I fear that they may be so bad, they're unbackable. I'd love to reach and grab 10 points because it looks so darn succulent, and if you made the case to me that this was a "value play" with the Kings, I probably couldn't argue with you, but Sacramento is in danger of losing every game by 30, and that, to me, makes them like the Nets of last year. You can try to predict all 20 covers, or however many it ends up being, but why fight against numbers? PASS on the side, and UNDER lean on the total.

Orlando Magic @ Denver Nuggets (-1) with a total of 204;
As I mention in Tuesday's podcast (recorded early), this game has two very strong competing angles. The one favoring Orlando is that Carmelo Anthony just played a game in New York, where you have to wonder if he left his heart. We all know he wants to go there, so how much does he want to come home and play the Magic, and take it to the rack with Dwight Howard at the bucket? The other angle is the Magic finishing up a rather long west coast swing. They've been on the road for 7 of the last 8 games, so it must feel like forever since they played at home, and this is definitely a fatigue spot. If Denver pushes the pace and gets a few easy buckets, it could be one of those games where the Magic have a shot late, but Denver is in the driver's seat for most of the game. I'd love to hear what you guys think is going through Melo's mind in this one, since I'm a little suspect. Still, this line feels about right, given each team's power, so with that in mind, I suppose I'd have to go with the situational angles above all else. Lean to DENVER and the UNDER.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Golden State Warriors (-4.5) with a total of 216.5;
Golden State seems wildly unpredictable lately. They'll get blown out by San Antonio repeatedly, then compete with Dallas, then lose at home to a rather mediocre Suns team. Now, they're competing with Utah on the road. Who are these guys? It seems like the Warriors have the most trouble with teams that actually play solid defense. Against clubs like the Thunder, the Wolves, and other teams struggling on the defensive side, it seems like the Warriors can actually hang in there. So here, the Wolves and Warriors, I feel, should have themselves a good old-fashioned shoot-out. If David Lee ever gets healthy, and if Stephen Curry can shake the sophomore blues, the Warriors should be able to beat up on teams like Minnesota, but as long as they remain hurt, this is a coin-flip, and there's no question in my mind on that. Of course, the only remaining note is that the Warriors are playing the second half of a back-to-back, which might hurt them against a team that plays defense, but as long as this one remains a streetball competition, fatigue shouldn't be a huge factor. Tiny lean to GOLDEN STATE, and the OVER.

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