Thursday, January 13, 2011

The LeBron Ankle Aftermath

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sports Wagering: NBA

Detroit Pistons @ Toronto Raptors (-4.5) with a total of 205.5;
Detroit finally got some measure of revenge in their last game with the Raps. It took a while, too, given Toronto had basically owned Detroit since Chauncey left town. In fact, looking back at the last 6 games between these opponents, Toronto has shot better than 50% from the field in 5 of the 6 games. Simply put, the Pistons can't defend against Toronto - the question is, can Toronto defend against anyone? Doesn't seem like it, though they do find ways to win a few games, usually at home. And the heart Toronto showed hanging with Atlanta was pretty impressive - that effort would have knocked off Detroit pretty easily. Detroit keeps switching lineups, hoping to find some sort of combo that works. Getting Greg Monroe more playing time is a good move for a team that desperately needs to ship out the stagnating veterans, and it seems like just a matter of time. Until that day, Detroit is a team that we can back in good spots, and fade on the road or in fatigue situations. This one, to me, is a revenge game for Toronto, even though they beat Detroit once already this year. Toronto got embarrassed in the last game before the Christmas Break, and I think they take it personally. Lean to TORONTO and the UNDER, by a hair.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Philadelphia 76ers (-4) with a total of 187;
I know the Sixers are one of the best ATS teams in the NBA, but that defense has disappointed me the last few games. I don't like this offensively-minded Sixers team, but fortunately, against the Bucks, it's going to take some defense to win. Milwaukee can't score, largely due to injury, but they sure as heck can play some defense. This game, to me, is a bit of a coin-flip, though. I think what we're seeing is a line that has now caught up with the Sixers strong play, and while the so-called "sharp" side might be the Bucks, they just might simply not have enough in the offensive tank to win this game. Philadelphia has been scoring, and Andre Iguodala should play significantly better in this, his second game back from injury. Philly has been very good against Milwaukee the last couple years, so this might just be one of those matchups that favors one team. A lot of all that muck balances out, and I think this one ends pretty darn close to the line, with PHILLY covering by a free throw, and the total just barely creeping OVER.

Chicago Bulls (-1.5) @ Indiana Pacers with a total of 190;
I fear we may be a game late on fading the Bulls on the road, though the credit Chicago keeps getting in the media might be delaying the line adjustment. Fact is, the Bulls have not been good on the road, losing regularly to subpar teams, and when they do beat the bad teams, it tends to be by a point or two, max. This is a tougher game on paper, though I wonder if that doesn't wake up the Bulls. Until we see proof of that, though, I'm still on the Bulls road fade train. Indiana, courtesy of a couple of strong offensive showings in Philly and at home against the Mavs, have played their two best games since November, and as we've seen, when the Pacers get hot, they can beat anyone. This is also a bit of a revenge spot for Indiana after getting held to just 73 points in a loss in Chicago almost exactly 1 month ago. This is a classic case of Indiana finishing up a homestand and looking for momentum to take on the road, and Chicago struggling on the road with Miami coming to town tomorrow. It sets up for an INDIANA cover (and likely win), and a total that heads up and OVER.

Sacramento Kings @ New York Knicks (-9.5) with a total of 217.5;
This is, classically, a bad spot for the Knicks, but they have, to some degree, defied situational logic. Yes, they got extremely lucky with a cover in Utah (a loss that still stings 24 hours later - come on Utah, learn how to inbound a ball), but New York has just been uncanny at never falling that far behind, and when they get ahead, they just keep adding points faster than the opponent. Problem is, New York hasn't been a huge favorite like this, well, ever...at least not in the last few years. New York has been a favorite of 4-to-7 points a few times, and they're teetering around 50/50 in those spots, but it comes down to the fact that they don't play defense. Thus, a competent offensive opponent can usually keep the Knicks within striking distance, though ultimately most teams get overwhelmed by New York's shooting. Sacramento, unfortunately, isn't in the world's finest spot, either. The lack of Tyreke Evans caught up to them in a blowout loss in Boston, and one of the League's worst teams is right smack in the middle of a 6-game road trip with Detroit tomorrow. I'm inclined to think New York wins this one by 11, so I guess a tiny lean to the KNICKS, but in that first game home, they could play one terrible half and ruin any chance at a cover. For that reason, I prefer the UNDER.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Boston Celtics (-9.5) with a total of 189.5;
You want to talk about a one-sided series, this is it! I mean, the results of this matchup have been completely and utterly sickening, especially for that poor owner...oh, what's his name? Ah yes, Michael Jordan. The Bobcats have played the Celtics as bad as any team in the NBA has played any other, losing the last 4 meetings by an average of over 25 points. An average! Charlotte has shot under 36% in 3 of those 4 meetings, and Boston has shot over 50% twice. Maybe the most disturbing part is that Charlotte, a team that shoots 35% from 3-point range (not very good to begin with) is a combined 4-for-41 from 3-point land in those games, including a 0-for-9 and a 0-for-10 game. And after all that, I think this is Charlotte's night. Charlotte is playing its best basketball of the season, Boston has Orlando on deck, and that 9.5 opening number is awfully telling. Charlotte wants this game badly, and they have a big, stinky monkey that only a hard-fought performance can pry loose from its death-grip on Charlotte's collective back. Lean to the BOBCATS and the OVER.

Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs with a total of N/A;
Dallas is 2-6 both SU and ATS without Dirk Nowitzki. Do we need to say anything more? I guess we can elaborate. Dallas broke 100 points in 7 of 9 games before Dirk got hurt, and they've done so in just 2 of 8 since. Dallas's defense has gotten worse, since other teams are able to run off missed shots, clearly a result of Dirk not being around to help actually get the ball into the bucket. His absence is making his presence seem much more important than I think any of us realized. Of course, given San Antonio was a 3.5-point favorite on the road when these teams met in late December (a non-Dirk game), this home spread might be a hair more than that. Dallas should have some measure of revenge on the brain, and the non-Dirks are going to want to step up and show that they can take on a rival even without their fallen hero. Or hell, maybe Dirk comes back and all this analysis goes right out the window. I expect a pretty high line, and I'm not seeing a Spurs team motivated to blow teams out lately, so I kinda like the MAVS and the UNDER. If Dirk comes back, though, probably a pass.

New Orleans Hornets @ Houston Rockets with a total of N/A;
I'll just state right up front, that I basically have zero opinion on this game. Each of these teams is rested, and each plays again tomorrow against an opponent that doesn't quality for a look-ahead, and neither team is blowing me away with any sort of stellar or miserable play. What we have seen is that Houston has completely abandoned the defensive end of the floor. Houston has allowed over 100 points in 9 straight games, winning just twice in that span. They have, not surprisingly, been playing to the Over. New Orleans continues to win games with defense and clutch late-game execution. You can thank Emeka Okafor and Chris Paul, respectively, for those. This is a revenge game for the Rockets, since the Hornets pounded them here in Houston in the season's first week, but I almost think that revenge from that game has almost passed its expiration date. This game is a battle of a team that wants to limit the number of possessions against a team that wants nothing to do with a shot-clock. It's a complete and total coin flip, and I want no part of it.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Utah Jazz (-15) with a total of 196.5;
If Cleveland wasn't the worst team I've seen since, um, last year's New Jersey Nets (Cleveland is probably worse), I'd put my life savings on them. You will almost never in any basketball season, find a team more embarrassed and playing with a bigger "chip" than this group of Cavs. Let's just look at this from a very simple standpoint. The Lakers were 15-point favorites to the Cavs a couple nights back and won by 55. Does that mean Cleveland should have been a 55-point underdog? Of course not - it means the Lakers played one of their best games of the season on the same night the Cavs played their worst. Utah also beat Cleveland by 11 on the road earlier this year as a 6-point road favorite. Has Cleveland gotten 3 points worse; Utah 3 points better? Nope. Cleveland is just playing bad basketball, and oddsmakers have been forced to adjust the line to account for the fact that no one will bet them unless the spread is out of control. Cleveland is going to fight, scratch and claw, because they don't want to be labeled "worse than an NBDL team," and I definitely like CLEVELAND to cover in a game that goes OVER.

Portland Trailblazers @ Phoenix Suns with a total of N/A;
I don't know why lines are off the board, sometimes, since it's pretty clear who's around. I did hear Wes Matthews turned an ankle in practice and might not play, but I'm pretty surprised that he carries enough clout to keep a line off the board. His ability to get to the rim is certainly important in this series, but I'm trying to find a way to back Phoenix regardless of who plays. Why, you ask? Simple: triple revenge. Portland has definitely gotten their playoff revenge from last year by decisively winning each of the first 3 games this year, and courtesy of Phoenix playing a solid 4th quarter and overtime against the Nets, I think they're ready to come out and make some buckets. I also like that Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat are alive for this game, since Phoenix desperately needs a body to put on LaMarcus Aldridge. I can't see the proud Suns getting swept in 4 games by a Portland team with all kinds of problems of their own, and considering Phoenix's poor play, this line shouldn't be too high. Lean to the SUNS and the OVER.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Golden State Warriors (-4.5) with a total of 209.5;
With every fiber of my being, I'm trying to find a way to back the Warriors, but I'm having trouble convincing my heart that that's the right move. The situational angles certainly all lead to Golden State, as the Warriors just got beat by the Clippers only a couple days ago. On top of that, the Clippers are coming off a monster home win over the Miami Heat, and head right back home to host the Lakers after this game. So, we've got the Clippers in a sandwich affair against the Warriors, a team that just dropped a heartbreaker to the Lakers, and plays at one of the louder arenas in the NBA. But despite all that, if the Clippers show up with some energy, this is a game they can dominate. Looking at the game in LA on the 9th, that game SHOULD have been decided by only a couple points based on just peripheral stats. Both teams shot right around 40% from the field, and turnovers were within 3, but the Clippers just completely outmuscled the Warriors. The Clips grabbed 70 rebounds to the Warriors 50, and shot 15 more free throws. The Clips were just too strong, and I don't see that changing. The question is, do the Clippers care with such huge games boxing this one? I'd love to back the Warriors, but I actually lean to the CLIPPERS by just a lil bit, and the OVER.

New Jersey Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers (-14) with a total of 191.5;
I have trouble getting excited about this game. The Lakers beat New Jersey on the road by 7 in a poor shooting game, and now host them to the tune of a two touchdown spread. Who cares? This isn't a spread I'd bet unless given a monster reason to (see Utah game above), and I just don't have one, here. The Lakers are winning games, and they're pushing teams around again, so they could very well win by 25. They might let Jersey back into the game, too. New Jersey is coming off a terribly disappointing loss in Phoenix, and the Nets biggest weapon, Brook Lopez, is completely out of sorts. Or maybe Carmelo will be a Net tomorrow? Doubt it. This is another of those games that I will simply flip off the side, no thanks, and lean just slightly to the

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