Thursday, December 16, 2010

World's Craziest Push

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sports Wagering: NBA

New Jersey Nets @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
I'm quite curious about the line on this one. The Raptors have actually shot the ball pretty well at home, but they've looked positively anemic offensively without Andrea Bargnani, and there's no telling how long he'll be out. This is a back-to-back for the Nets, so one might look to fade a team in a fatigue spot, but I'm not sure I can get on board. The Raptors are not only suffering a tad offensively without Bargnani, it seems like the losses of Evans, Bargnani and Calderon are taking a toll on the defensive end. That surprised me. I didn't really see those guys as defensive powerhouses, but the last 4 straight opponents have shot over 50% against the Raptors, and it's awfully tough to win, and in this case, cover as a favorite, when the opposition is making more shots than they miss. Of course, the opposite seems to be the case for Jersey, as they are basically finding ways to shoot 40% or lower, against both good and bad defensive teams. So, which is going to give? I suppose when it comes down to weakness against weakness, I would give the nod to the home court and the rested team. Small lean to TORONTO (line depending) and the UNDER.

Miami Heat (-4.5) @ New York Knicks with a total of 209;
Some big games for the Knicks lately, eh? If we've learned anything, those Knicks can score. Felton has come along quickly, Amar'e is "stat", and guys like Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields, Toney Douglass and Danilo Gallinari are all doing their parts, as well. The Knicks are a fun team to watch. The Heat are on a roll of their own, and head into New York on the heels of a little bit of a letdown game against the Cavaliers. This line is a point higher than the number Boston was laying, which makes me think that the results should be close to the same. I don't see how Miami's weak interior defense is going to be able to do anything to stop Amar'e that Boston didn't try. The Heat are going to be able to put more pressure on the Knicks wings and potentially draw more fouls, but as long as Amar'e stays on the floor, I just can't see New York getting pushed too far behind, at home. I said it two days ago, and I'll say it again here, I would not be at all surprised to see this game come right down to the wire. Maybe not a buzzer-beater, like with Boston, but free throws and a couple points down the stretch are not far-fetched. With that in mind, and because I believe teams can "get up" for a few games in a row, I lean KNICKS again, and the jumbo-size total makes me think Knicks tempo, and OVER.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Indiana Pacers (-9) with a total of 196;
As Danny Granger goes, so go the Pacers. Granger missed some time, played hurt, and the Pacers have been getting spanked. Will he be back to his normal self for this one? Tough to say, but I know for darn sure that laying nearly double digits needs exploring before any sort of motion is taken. This is also the 3rd meeting between these two teams already this season, which is a great spot for those of us that love to watch games and study results. The first meeting occurred on November 13th in Cleveland, where the rested Cavs were a 1.5-point favorite, and the Pacers won by 14. The next meeting was just 10 days later in Indiana, and once again the Pacers were the "fatigue" team, laying 5 points at home in a game they won by 11. Now, with both teams rested, the line is at 9, a second adjustment to this power ranking. How much of an adjustment is too much? How far does this line need to go to be a value back on the Cleveland side? I happen to think the Cavs competing with the Heat for the full 48 minutes is going to get them going a little bit, and we might very well see an upset. Indiana is in a slump, and if Cleveland is even pondering come out of their funk, we could be seeing 3-4 points of value nightly on Byron Scott's bunch. Lean to CLEVELAND and the OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers (-5) @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of 196;
Philly has been playing truly spectacular defense, and that has led to the team covering 10 straight games. The Lakers, after a rough stretch, seem to have been reinvigorated by the return of Andrew Bynum, and they've powered out to giant leads in their last 3 games, only to have the bench let the opposition climb back into "near backdoor" range. Still, the Lakers prowess is always there, and this is absolutely one of those games I wouldn't touch a side with a 10-foot pole. You've got the Lakers, clearly turning a corner and starting to function offensively once again, and you've got the Sixers, who are outperforming the line every night, and have been especially successful at home. At 17-7 ATS on the year, Philly has quietly become one of the best wagers in sports...but not tonight. PASS on the side, and OVER lean on the total, since the Lakers are ramping that offense back up, and I think Philly can come close to matching.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Detroit Pistons (-3) with a total of 189.5;
As we move into the middle parts of the season, almost every game is going to be a balancing act. Scheduling angles, motivational, revenge, line movement, power ranking adjustments...the list goes on and on. Here, we have a few to weigh. First is revenge - the Clippers lost to Detroit in Los Angeles in overtime. The Pistons looked decent on that road trip, and both teams have fluctuated a tad since. Second is power ranking notes. The Pistons were considered 1.5-point superior to the Clippers in that game, and covered, and now here are concerned LA's equal. Have the Clippers improved 1.5 points, has Detroit fallen 1.5, or somewhere in between? And what about the fact that Detroit is 6-6 at home SU, and the Clippers are a perfectly miserable 0-11 on the road? The Clippers do have one guy that can shoot near 50% in every game, and that generally keeps them somewhat close, but Detroit can knock down the 3-ball, especially at home, and should probably have beaten Toronto, too, if the Raptors didn't shoot a ridiculous 63% from the field. I know there's revenge, but too many of the Clips stink too much to back them on the road yet. Lean to PISTONS and the UNDER.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Atlanta Hawks with a total of N/A;
I'll make my point right up front in this one - I'm not backing Charlotte on the road until they show any signs of life. They have failed to cover the last 6 straight road games, including blowout defeats at the hands of the Grizzlies, Sixers and Hornets, and slightly closer losses to the Pacers, Bucks and Knicks. This is a little bit of a potential letdown spot for the Hawks, but they've played alright in most of their back-to-back spots, and have actually had quite a few this year. This one might be tougher, given the Atlanta injury situation (Crawford, Johnson, etc.), but like I said in the first sentence, the Bobcats are so terrible on the road, I can't put money behind them. I'll be curious to see where this line opens with Atlanta playing the b2b. Considering Charlotte was an 8.5-point dog in Memphis when the Bobcats were playing the b2b, and I have Atlanta as a shade better than Memphis, I wouldn't be surprised to see this one in the 7-point range. I suppose the balancing act with this one is Charlotte's road woes against the Atlanta letdown off a game in Boston that was talked about as a regular season "playoff" game for the Hawks. Tough call - let's see the line, but my gut reaction is tiny lean to ATLANTA (but prefer the PASS) and the UNDER.

Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-11.5) with a total of 205;
Sacramento had one bullet to fire on their current road trip, and they fired it in New Orleans. Of course, it didn't quite lodge itself. The Kings got out to a huge lead down in Nawlins, only to see the Hornets come roaring back on the shoulders of the recently-injured, and recently dog-housed Marcus Thornton. Now, Sacramento heads to visit the Thunder, a team not currently experiencing the type of offensive malaise that the Hornets were, and we all saw what happens to the Kings when they face a team that can shoot - they get smashed. The Kings have lost by some huge margins this year, and the Thunder have actually covered 4 in a row while scoring quite a bit. I know 11.5 is a big number, but it's only 2 points more than Sacramento got in Houston, and the Thunder are at least 3 points better than the Rockets, so I might even argue there's a tiny hair of value with a team laying 11.5. It feels weird, I know, but the Kings are truly awful. Evans returning early was a shot in the arm, but force him to hit a jumper, and the Kings go stagnant. Lean to the THUNDER and the UNDER, but the total is pretty close to spot on.

Utah Jazz (-1) @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of 189;
This total screams New Orleans, doesn't it? This total isn't anything out of the ordinary for a Hornets game, but considering the total was only 1.5 points lower against the defensive-minded Heat or the offensively-inept Kings, this one means more, in my opinion. Plus, toss atop that little tidbit the fact that this is Utah's 2nd total all season in the 180's. Oddsmakers aren't stupid, and they know that the Hornets are going to try desperately to keep Utah in a slower, uglier game, and the fact that this number is so low certainly speaks to the idea that the Hornets might have some success with it. And perhaps more important than all that other "total reading"...since I know many are skeptical of its powers, the Hornets, for the first time in probably 3-4 weeks, have momentum. I know it was just a win over the lowly Kings, but it was a monumental comeback effort, and the type of second half performance, and eye-opening show by Marcus Thornton that can breathe life into a team that was playing some impotent basketball. I happen to think this one stays close until the end, and I believe Thornton and Paul make a few key plays for a narrow Hornets win. It's also a revenge game from a blowout loss in Utah on November 24th. Lean to HORNETS and the UNDER.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets (-4) with a total of 203;
Say what you want about big paragraphs in my blogs, but this game isn't going to be one of them. I love what the Grizzlies are starting to do on defense, but for whatever reason, playing the Rockets is like drugging the entire team. Memphis got spanked by Houston at home earlier this year, got swept last year, and the fun just continues. Memphis is playing its best basketball of the season right now, though, so perhaps this is the first time to be cautious, and Houston just got the news that Yao might just be done for his career. How will they react to the idea that they're without the big man, possibly forever? Houston is shooting the ball extremely well lately, led largely by the hot hand of Kevin Martin, but the Grizzlies recent dedication to playing defense has catapulted them back (in my opinion) into the top-8 in the West after a very slow start. Still, revenge hasn't seemed to matter in this series in recent history, so until Memphis proves that they've overcome their issues with Shane Battier, I'm not switching it up. After the streak is broken, we can rethink things. Lean to HOUSTON and the UNDER.

Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks (-7) with a total of 210.5;
I hate to say it, since I know I'll get blasted, but I think now is the perfect time to fade the Mavericks. They had their colossal run, crushed many a team, and then finally dropped one to the Bucks. Then, the following game, the line was just inflated. It wasn't like the Mavs played poorly, and they probably will play relatively well again in this one, but when the line is overcooked, the close ones are going to go the other way. Of course, it's quite possible that the Mavs will blow out some teams, but generally, and this applies to all sports, after a team goes on an extended winning streak, they don't usually post a ton of blowouts. This is where we'll get Dallas's "A-minus" game, which means they'll probably win, but it'll be 5 points closer than usual. And as for Phoenix, Jason Richardson started showing signs of life, and that's a key for them to cover against anyone. I'm not completely sold on the Suns, since Steve Nash has admitted his groin injury is hurting his shot, but if J-Rich can knock in a few threes, and Dallas gives a 90% effort, I could see this one, like Portland, being decided by 5. Slight lean to PHOENIX and the OVER.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Portland Trailblazers (-8.5) with a total of 200;
We know Minnesota's weakness...teams that play defense. They can generally trade buckets with the offensive-minded teams in the NBA, but when they go against a club that can lock down, rebound, and make them work, Minnesota tends to have issues. This would seem to be one of those spots, potentially, and a pretty low line, all things considered. On the other side, Portland is in a potential sluggish spot, playing their first game back home after a 4-game road trip, but then, looking over Portland's schedule so far this year, they've had 4 road trips of 3 games or more already, and they've covered in 3 of the 4 games immediately thereafter, including one against the lowly Clippers. This is technically a divisional game, so Portland should care a little, and the Blazers have been significantly better at home of late. The square goggles have been strapped on, and I'm leaning PORTLAND and the UNDER.


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