Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Close Ones Count

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards (Pk) with a total of 194;
Washington remains one of the sneakiest home plays in the League, and I'm fairly convinced that most people haven't caught on. With that in mind, and with Indiana playing the second half of a back-to-back that began yesterday with a home revenge game against the Celtics, my initial reaction is to look at the Wizards. However, this is the front end of a home-and-home between these two teams, and they'll face off again in Indiana on Friday. Historically, we've had our best success watching the first piece of these types of scheduling spots, and then reacting, since you can generally get a good idea of the mental state of each time, but given Washington's comfort level at home, and Indiana's recent offensive struggles, I'd lean to WASHINGTON to win this home half, and the total to squeak OVER.

Golden State Warriors @ Atlanta Hawks with a total of N/A;
I'm actually starting to like the Warriors again. As David Lee's health improves, this team gets a ton better, and they've rattled off two solid home wins in a row in the last few days. The road hasn't been kind to Golden State, but again, if they're getting easier looks, and Lee is the guy in those spots, this is a team that can score big numbers in any venue. The obvious concern is whether they can stop anyone, and most likely, they won't. Golden State plays some pretty mediocre defense on the season, and the inability to score as reliably away from home has absolutely killed them. The Hawks are bigger and stronger, and should be one of the teams that poses a problem for Golden State. I'm curious to see this line, though, since the Warriors lost most of their following due to an awful November, and Atlanta has been playing well at home. Slight pre-line lean to ATLANTA (barring a wild line), and the UNDER.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Charlotte Bobcats with a total of N/A;
The Bobcats, round two, under Paul Silas. Round one was a marginal success, as they did win the game, but it was one of the sloppiest performances of the season (for a winning team, at least). Turnovers were plentiful, just as we predicted they would be, under a completely new offensive scheme, and running to try to get some easy buckets. Charlotte and Detroit put up 205 points, going way over the opening total, so we'll probably see oddsmakers make some adjustments on this one. Let's wait and see where the total opens up, but one thing we know for sure is that Cleveland is going to try to run some relatively quick offensive sets, as well. Can Cleveland actually make their open looks? Based on the last few weeks, not likely. The problem, though, is that not only is Cleveland getting some monster spreads, but they're also on a back-to-back off yesterday's game with the Magic. This is going to be a big spread to cover for a team trying out some new stuff. Small lean to the CAVS and the OVER.

Boston Celtics (-6.5) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 189;
Every time I see a line like this one, I always start with the home team and see if anything can talk me out of it. Detroit has actually been playing decent ball, believe it or not. They're not winning a ton, but they're covering, having gone 4-0 ATS in their last 4 contests, including near misses against the Bulls and Bobcats. Now, they host the Celtics for the 2nd time this year after getting blasted in the first meeting. Boston was a 6-point favorite in that game, but this time, Boston is playing a back-to-back, so the 6.5 is actually a pretty high number, all things considered, especially with the Pistons actually covering some spreads. The results of Boston's game in Indiana might impact my thoughts later on in the process, but against all my better judgment, I lean DETROIT and the UNDER.

New Jersey Nets @ Oklahoma City Thunder with a total of N/A;
The Thunder are all over the damn place. If you were around for yesterday's (Tuesday) blog, you may have caught a quick exchange in the comments between our buddy denmarkok, and he probably summed it up best in saying the Thunder are going through some growing pains. They still don't quite know how to conduct themselves in the regular season with a target on their back, and getting opponents' A games. As a result, it seems like we're seeing a week of strong play, followed by a game or two where the team seems to be taking a deep breath. The Thunder had a nice win on Christmas Day, then came back and lost to the best road team in the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks. Now, in what's sure to be a lopsided spread, we'll see if they can get it back together to grab a "W" in a game they should win. This one is a coin-flip to me, flat out. NO LEAN on the side, tiny lean to the OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers (-1.5) @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of 191;
Let's start with the Hornets, since, to me, they're the easy team to call in this game. New Orleans has been playing much better at home than on the road this month, so that's what we're going to keep in mind when backing them. That is, we'll consider backing them at home, and doubtful we'll do so when they're on the road. The issue continues to be offense. New Orleans just can't make buckets on the road, and even if you can play defense, if you can't score, you're the New Jersey Nets, I guess. The Lakers are the question mark. They will be coming off a big game with the Spurs, so the results of that one will certainly play a role in how we approach this game. I will say, right off the bat, I don't think a letdown is a possibility. If the Lakers play a close game with the Spurs, I think we'll see another close one, here. If either team gets blown out in Lakers-Spurs, I might expect similar from this game. WAIT AND SEE on the side, and slight lean to the UNDER.

Denver Nuggets @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of N/A;
Don't look now, but Minnesota has come out of the Christmas break gangbusters! They won on the road, against the lowly Cavs, then came home and stomped the Hornets. This will undoubtedly be the toughest game of the last 3, but Minnesota had only 14 turnovers against New Orleans, only 13 against the Cavs, and when they take care of the ball and actually get shots on the offensive end (and give Kevin Love a chance to grab an offensive board, if need be), Minnesota can be pretty tough on offense. They still play some downright miserable defense, but this is, believe it or not, a very winnable game for them. The Nuggets haven't been very good on the road at any point this season. Minnesota completely dominated Denver on the glass when these teams met at the Pepsi Center, and Denver seems to be losing focus on a daily basis. Lean to MINNESOTA and the UNDER.

Miami Heat (-4) @ Houston Rockets with a total of 199;
This line seems awfully low, doesn't it? Call me square on this game, but unless Miami expends every ounce of energy in the tank in their game with the Knicks last night (to be determined), I actually think that the public might sneak away with one. Why, you ask? Well, as tough as Houston's schedule was at the beginning of the year, it has been almost as easy the last 2-3 weeks. Houston has played 1 game with a team with a winning record since the 4th of December, a game they lost to the Thunder. Yes, Houston is playing a bit better, especially on offense, but they're actually a hair overrated right now, considering the best team they've played on their current 5-game win streak is Memphis, a club that cannot beat Houston no matter how well they're playing. Sorry Houston, I'll trust you when you beat a few teams over 500 -- lean to MIAMI and the UNDER.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Phoenix Suns with a total of N/A;
Philly is dealing with some bodies getting banged up, the most important of which remains Andre Iguodala. This team is really just not the same without him, and maybe his work on Paul Pierce in the two games with Boston is the best indicator of how important he can be. Iguodala might be the most underrated ON-BALL defender in the NBA. He's long, quick, and powerful, and can generally shut down most opposing small forwards. Phoenix doesn't do a ton of 1-on-1 work, so I'm not sure that his loss will hurt Philadelphia's defense quite as much, unless they were considering putting him on Steve Nash, and we may never know. Philly is also smack in the middle of a ridiculously long road trip, so it's tough to know how the guys respond to the serious travel fatigue spot. Can Phoenix get the new players acclimated? That's the other huge note. My expectation is a relatively short line (4-5 points?), and in that case, small lean to PHOENIX and the UNDER.

Memphis Grizzlies (-4) @ Sacramento Kings with a total of 195;
I won't back the Kings. There are plenty of games involving Sacramento where I would avoid the game entirely if, say the opposition is in a particularly bad situational spot, but I will not back Sacramento until they show some sort of sign of waking up. The Kings actually pushed on the closing line of their last game, though they lost against the opening number, and the Kings are now 5-23 SU on the season, and a truly miserable 7-20 ATS. That's tough to do, to be so awful that even wildly inflated lines can't get you an ATS win. The Grizzlies are playing tremendous team defense lately, they've looked solid since the All Star Break (aside from too many turnovers), and they're not really in any kind of bad spot. I hate to simplify the game this much, but the fade train is in effect - lean to MEMPHIS and the UNDER.

Utah Jazz (-2) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 196;
Wow, maybe I should take back what I said a couple days ago about the Clippers not getting any respect. The Jazz only laying 2 on the road with neither team playing in a schedule spot. That's really something, especially when you consider that the Clips were 6 point home underdogs to Utah about 45 days ago. The Clippers appear to have climbed a solid 4 points in the power rankings, and I'm not sure I disagree. They shoot a high percentage from the field thanks largely to Blake Griffin, they are a very strong rebounding team, and the slow improvement of Baron Davis's attitude has given LA a floor-leader that can get the ball to Griffin and Gordon in good spots. Utah has a little revenge spot with Portland coming up tomorrow, and to be honest, I'd like to get more points if I'm backing the Clips, but the strength of this opening number tells me all I need to know. Lean to the BLAKE-SHOW and the OVER.

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