Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Blog of 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

New Jersey Nets @ Chicago Bulls (-10) with a total of 185;
New Jersey has been getting creamed the last week or so, and I see no strong reason to believe that changes on New Year's Eve. Chicago is in the middle of a homestand, so they'll get to spend time with family over the next few days, while Jersey is bouncing between home and road, and trying to locate that defensive identity that actually kept them in games earlier this year. Believe it or not, 10 really isn't a ton of points, considering the competition. Of course, just when everything looks like it's pointed in one direction, the NBA has a habit of slapping you with a weird result. No sense overcomplicating things - lean to CHICAGO and I think the total is SPOT ON.

Washington Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (-6) with a total of 195;
Ah, the home-and-home. We were correct in our leans on the first one, and I have no issue claiming that we'll likely be correct with our leans on this one, as well. The Wizards beat up on a suddenly struggling Pacers team that just hasn't looked right on offense. Washington continues to be a sneaky home play, but also continues to get worked on the road, and I fail to see how this one turns out any differently. The Pacers are going to want some measure of revenge from losing to Washington in the Capital, and Washington's defense does give up some points on the road. The return of John Wall is going to make Washington a more formidable team both at home and on the road, but Indiana's recent slump has given us a low line, and on the back end of a home-and-home, I can't pass it up. Lean to PACERS and the OVER.

Golden State Warriors @ Charlotte Bobcats (-2) with a total of 207;
This game should actually be a fun one, with Charlotte trying to push the tempo, and Golden State sort of a veteran team, at least when it comes to understanding the run-n-gun style of offense. Charlotte is going to continue to be a bit sloppy while they make the transition to pushing the ball, and I wonder if this isn't a game where an opponent can actually take advantage of that. The Warriors are pretty bad on the road, but they're definitely improving by the day (thanks largely to health), and they are a team that can turn mistakes into points. Not only that, Golden State is comfortable playing a streetball game. I believe this line is fairly low for a reason, and I lean to the WARRIORS, and just slightly to the UNDER.

New Orleans Hornets @ Boston Celtics with a total of N/A;
Kevin Garnett's leg is hurting, and that's a huge blow to the Celtics, though they've dealt with injury issues before. The real key, to me, is that New Orleans has not been able to score, at all, on the road. The Hornets have had a couple home games where they almost looked like they knew what they were doing, but road games have been downright ugly, and maybe this will sound weird, but I think that Garnett's loss might actually give us a little value with Boston. The line is undoubtedly going to be lower, but if Rondo is getting back into the mix, and Big Baby can still step in and play some decent PF, Boston loses its defensive voice, but not its defensive identity or offensive ability. A healthy Garnett is wildly important in big games, but in a regular season home game against a team that can't put the ball in the hoop, the line drop might be the bigger factor. Lean to BOSTON and waiting on the total, but it might sneak OVER, just because I expect a hideously low number.

Toronto Raptors @ Houston Rockets (-8.5) with a total of 212;
This may come as a bit of a shock, but Toronto has actually been holding up pretty well, offensively. The problem has been defense and turnovers. They can shoot, but they can't stop anyone, so any mistakes are magnified, and every game ends up just being an effort to trade buckets. I don't see this one being any different. Houston has been ramping up their offense despite the season-ending injury to Yao (again), and with Aaron Brooks getting healthy, and his minutes increasing, that just gives the Rockets one more potent weapon to defend. So, while Toronto beat Dallas a couple nights back, that was an awful situational spot for the Mavericks. This game, on the other hand, is a worse spot for Toronto, finishing up a Southern road trip on New Year's Eve. I'm not at all concerned about Houston winning, but covering 8.5 isn't easy, especially when you're a team that only plays defense about 1/3 of the time. Still, Toronto's win in Dallas was a fluke, I believe, so a small, square lean to the ROCKETS and the OVER.

Atlanta Hawks @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-5) with a total of 196;
The Thunder are all over the map! This team has been trading off wins and losses since December 17th, a span of 7 games. This game, on that trend, has them marked for a loss. Of course, when I look at the numbers, I can't help but think that perhaps that trend will come to an end tonight. The Thunder are coming off a complete performance against the lowly Nets, and while the Hawks have quietly won 4 of 5 games, the bulk of their heavy lifting has been done at home. And aside from a road win over the Jennings-less Bucks (who are experiencing some severe offensive issues), Atlanta is just 1-6 in their other 7 road games in the month of December. I know what you're thinking - surely, it must have been a tough schedule. And some of the games were darn tough, but losses at Detroit and at New Jersey should have been preventable. I still don't trust the Hawks on the road, and the Thunder should be able to take care of business against a slightly better team - Lean to OKLAHOMA and the OVER.

Detroit Pistons @ Phoenix Suns with a total of N/A;
Looking at the last 5 games for each team, this one SHOULD be one of the easiest games on the card to handicap, but I'll admit, I'm struggling to come to terms with a few things. First, Detroit has covered 5 in a row - simple, right? They moved Rip Hamilton to the bench, Ben Gordon into the starting five, and T-Mac is getting more minutes, and suddenly, the Pistons are a reasonably successful offensive unit. That should continue, right? Hopefully. On the other side, the Suns are slowly trying to acclimate to the new players, and in the meantime, the team is getting outrebounded and outworked, and the offense has stagnated more than it should. Vince Carter getting out there and playing on his banged up legs should help in the short term, since it gives Phoenix another proven scorer, but the Pistons can really shoot, and I find it hard to believe that Phoenix can really "pull away" from any competition while they're adjusting to new players. Lean to the PISTONS and the OVER.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Los Angeles Lakers with a total of N/A;
The lack of Andre Iguodala would be a monster blow to Philly in this game. His absence didn't hurt them much against the zero-defense Suns, but against a big, strong team like LA, the Sixers desperately need their defensive leader to try to slow down Kobe, even a little. The Lakers finally broke out of their 3-game skid with an easy win over the Hornets the last time out, and now return home to try to "get fat" against about 2 weeks of mediocre competition. The Sixers are in game 7 of an 8-game road trip, so you have to think they're starting to fatigue just a hair. This game, though, is so high profile that I wouldn't be surprised to see Philadelphia show up. They have revenge on the brain after LA beat them soundly on the East coast, and they know that the Lakers had been scuffling a bit before that game with the Hornets. Combine all that with the aforementioned injury news, and you've got quite a few angles to consider, almost too many. I do think the Lakers win, so it'd be tough for me to back Philly, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this one stay closer than people think. Microscopic lean to PHILADELPHIA (and I mean TINY!), and the OVER.


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