Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Road Perfection, Mavs

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

Detroit Pistons @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
The Pistons are damn difficult to figure out, these days. They beat the pants off Atlanta, lose to the Clippers, beat the Hornets, and prior to all that, they had allowed these very Raptors to shoot 63% in a crazy comeback effort. Who are the Pistons? Now, on the road, in a bit of a revenge spot, the Pistons are looking to string together a pair of wins for the first time since early November. And they're looking to do so without Rip Hamilton, who seems to be done with Detroit. He might play, I suppose, but after being benched in favor of Ben Gordon, Rip threw a temper tantrum, sat out a game with an "upset tummy," and now would seem to be chomping at the bit to get traded. I would actually prefer he NOT play, if I'm backing Detroit. He's not playing hard, and Detroit desperately needs all 5 guys on the floor to give a crap if they're going to win. With this game being each team's final contest before the Christmas Break, the letdown factor is a wash. Thus, we're left with momentum and revenge, and I might argue that those both point to the Pistons. Let's wait and see if we can snag a nice number (since Toronto was considered 1 point Detroit's superior a couple weeks back), and then reassess. Early lean to DETROIT and the UNDER, though the line will provide some additional info.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Atlanta Hawks (-11) with a total of 191;
This is a large number for Atlanta to cover, considering how stagnant that offense has looked, lately. I will give credit, though, to Atlanta's defense, which seems to have improved between seasons. Now, if they could get some activity in that offense, they could take another step. As it stands, Atlanta has held more teams under 40% shooting this month (4) than over 50% (3), and that's a nice sign. Cleveland should be no different. The Cavs have only cracked the 43% mark once all December, so we can basically look for them to put up another 40% performance. The question is whether Atlanta can hang 100 points on the board. I'm inclined to think they won't. Atlanta just isn't pushing the tempo at all, and while Cleveland sometimes tries to, they seem to settle back into a half-court set all too often. I happen to think that, given the lack of motivational factors, and with Atlanta trying to get Joe Johnson back in the swing of things, this side is pretty close to accurate. Perhaps a microscopic lean to ATLANTA to cover by about 1.5 points. The total is darn near perfect, too, though I lean just a hair to the UNDER.

Chicago Bulls (-2) @ Washington Wizards with a total of 194;
We'll know a bit more about this game once we see how Chicago handles Philadelphia on Tuesday evening, but my initial feeling is that Chicago isn't the same team without Joakim Noah, and this ultra-short line is doing nothing to sway that sensation. Washington, as we've seen, is sneaky-solid at home, and I'm inclined to think they'll make a game of it with the Bulls. That number 2 is scary, though, since Washington isn't left with much of a window to lose and cover. Washington was a 10.5-point underdog when they played in Chicago earlier this year, but now, without Arenas and without Wall, even the loss of Joakim Noah would have to still leave Chicago as the slight power ranking edge. Plus, the Bulls added Boozer since that time. Nothing about this line adds up, and when that's the case, it's time to open up the Marco D'Angelo book of tricks and "go contrarian" with the ugly choice. Lean to WASHINGTON on the side (Chicago's game with Philly pending), and the OVER.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics (-10) with a total of 191;
Considering the line when Boston visited Philadelphia 2 weeks ago, this -10 is absolutely astounding! Let's knock out the situational stuff quickly, because I want to focus on the line math. Yes, this is a revenge game for Philadelphia. The Sixers dropped a heartbreaker to the Celtics, 102-101, obviously covering that game, but losing a game they felt they could have won. Boston might, though it's not for sure, be looking ahead just a tad to the Christmas Day game with the Orlando Magic. And finally, Philadelphia is on back-to-back from a game in Chicago, the results of which may impact how we approach this one. Now, the line: when Boston traveled to Philadelphia on December 9, it was on the heels of a back-to-back with the Denver Nuggets, in Boston, and the C's were a 5 point road favorite. Some quick arithmetic (venue, b2b adjustment) tells us that oddsmakers had Boston as a 10-point neutral court favorite. Now, 2 weeks later, Philadelphia is on a b2b, Boston is at home, and the line is only at 10. That's a full 5-point power ranking swing, and that's also insane. Believe it or not, this line might actually be a value on Boston. Taking 10 points with the Sixers seems like a gift right now, but digging deep reveals that the line has moved a ton, and the value might not be quite what it appears. NO LEAN on the side, and total lean UNDER.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ New York Knicks (Pk) with a total of 218;
I sure hope this one isn't decided at the free throw line, because the game might never end. Two teams that can seriously make foul shots, and can both really put up some offensive numbers. The Thunder are not playing the world's finest team defense, and on a back-to-back spot (off a game in Charlotte last night), I would have to believe that the first thing to do is going to be the defensive effort. When you're tired, it's very easy to get caught up in the Knicks' style of play, up and down the court, trying to out-gun the opponent, and for that reason, I think this line is telling us that the tempo is going to be quite high. The Thunder are the better team on a neutral setting, no question, but when you throw together that the Knicks have had 3 days to regroup after a tough span that saw them lose games to Boston and Miami (and then a letdown loss in Cleveland), this one gets much closer. The Thunder have also played a handful of games with a total up in the 215 range, and those have all gone Over the mark. What does that tell us? Oklahoma isn't going to try to slow things down, people are going to get to the foul line and stop the clock, and buckets will be plentiful. Lean to the KNICKS and the OVER.

New Jersey Nets @ New Orleans Hornets (-9) with a total of 182;
This game has all the makings of a real ugly-fest. Neither team can score, reliably, and just when it seemed like the Hornets were starting to build a little momentum with a big win over Utah, the Hornets went on the road and laid a pair of eggs. I wonder if this isn't that game where two teams that generally fail on offense suddenly find a rhythm and shoot 50%? In any case, New Orleans should win this game, but covering 9 isn't going to be easy. The Nets are on the second half of a back-to-back that started last night in Memphis, so they'll be a little fatigued, but New Jersey's slow, defensive style of play has translated into success in spots such as this one. And considering that this line would be at 7 without the b2b adjustment, that just shows how little respect the Hornets are getting lately, and probably don't deserve much more. I am about 95% of the way to passing on this clunker, especially since, if ever there was a team for Jersey to pack it in and start thinking about that 5 day layoff, this would be it. Too many competing angles. If I had to force a lean, since I know you guys love forced leans, it'd be to JERSEY, but tread lightly. I think this game stays UNDER, as well.

Utah Jazz (-6) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of 208;
This is the final game for both teams before the Christmas Break, and in those cases, the normal move would be to take a peek at the home team, but given the scheduling angles, I'm not sure I'm on board with either club. Utah is in the final game of a 4-game road trip, where they dropped the opener in New Orleans, but have since rattled off a pair of wins (in Milwaukee and Cleveland). Minnesota is coming home off a 6-game road trip where they dropped all 6 games. Yikes. The first thought might be that Minnesota will want to bounce back, but we have to remember that the first game back home is generally not a good spot, especially considering the amount of travel Minnesota has logged in the last 2 weeks, and also how much you have to think they're looking forward to getting a few days off. This one comes down to the head coach, to me, and we all know Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams are not about to take a game off. Minnesota's young nucleus could very well be thinking about all those sweet days of rest and Christmas presents under the tree. Hell, considering how young Minnesota's roster is, a majority of those guys might be getting right back on a plane and going to see family. It's square, but I have a small lean to UTAH, and sluggishness factor leads me to the UNDER.

Denver Nuggets @ San Antonio Spurs (-7) with a total of 214;
San Antonio might officially be overvalued. Apparently, all it took was a 24-3 SU start for oddsmakers to begin to catch up. I only bring this up because the Spurs have won every game this month, except the first, and while they're 9-1 SU, they're 5-5 ATS. That's a pretty good sign that the oddsmakers have caught up. I would also argue that the Spurs are starting to win on buzzer-beaters, which makes me think they're settling in the Lakers-like trend of giving an A-minus effort, just enough to wrap up that win. This is a revenge game for the Nuggets, though you have to think that Denver's collective brain is swirling right now, with all the rumors heating up. Denver plays again on Christmas Day, though I hardly think the Thunder are a team to look ahead to, when the Spurs, who just beat you on your home court, are standing in the way. The Spurs actually play again tomorrow in Orlando, so who knows if there is any sort of mental stuff going on with such a strong team. I would tend to think that the Spurs are going to be fine, mentally. Are the Nuggets? Tough to back a team dealing with emotional stresses, and tough to back a Nuggets team that has been pretty pedestrian on the road, but something tells me they hang within the 7 points and lose by 5-6. Small lean to DENVER and the UNDER.

Houston Rockets (-1) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 207;
The high total makes me think that Houston is going to dictate the tempo, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Houston is going to cover. If the Clippers get rolling, they can put up some serious points in the paint. Blake Griffin is an absolute menace around the bucket, and we saw Eric Gordon take the ball to the hoop a bit more in the Clippers current 3-game winning streak. We're also seeing Ryan Gomes playing some all-around decent basketball, Baron Davis starting to enjoy himself again, and even Rasual Butler providing a little shooting off the bench. The Clippers are doing a lot of good things offensively, and Houston doesn't seem like a team up to the task of stopping them. Maybe I'm out of my mind, but I've really, really liked what I've seen from the Clips the last few games. Something clicked, and they're both scoring and rebounding. Houston is shooting the lights out from downtown, and that's got them winning some games, too, but with each club looking at a long layoff, I have to give a slight nod to the home team. Something to keep in mind, though - teams on a run usually don't want a layoff, and both of these teams are candidates to come out of the 4-5 day break slowly, having lost some of the momentum they are building right now. We'll reassess that situation soon enough. Slight lean to CLIPPERS and OVER.


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