Monday, January 10, 2011

NBA into the Driver's Seat

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sports Wagering: NBA

Indiana Pacers @ Philadelphia 76ers (-4) with a total of 194;
This game feels an awful lot like last week's contest where Utah rolled into Memphis -- one team heading down, the other heading up. It might look like a lopsided line, but in reality, this line is just catching up with the current happenings. These teams have played twice already this year, with each winnings its home game in the season's early going. Since then, Philadelphia has made huge progress, and Indiana has gone small. Roy Hibbert looks exhausted, missing chip-shots like bricks are going out of style, and Philly is playing solid defense and scoring, at home in particular. I know it looks like a relatively obvious play, and we generally avoid those, but I think we need to remember that most people think of Philadelphia as a bad team, and I'd be surprised if the splits were any higher than 65/35 at midday. Lean to PHILADELPHIA and NO LEAN on the total.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Atlanta Hawks with a total of N/A;
This matchup was a nice little Playoff revenge spot back at the beginning of the year, but Milwaukee cashed that chip with a win in Atlanta back in November. Sure enough, a month later the Hawks rolled into Milwaukee and got a little in-season revenge. Where does that leave us? Square one. I'm wiping out all the in-season notes on these teams, since I believe the emotional stuff has leveled off. There aren't really any scheduling factors at play, either. Thus, I look at recent work, and the Hawks are straight up dominating. This is, in my opinion, as good as Atlanta has looked at any point with this core group of guys. Seriously. They are relentless. The bench is still a little thin besides Jamal Crawford, but if Atlanta could get some production out of Jeff Teague and Josh Powell, they suddenly look like a team that can get past most of the East. Obviously, no team is as good as its best game, and Atlanta will cool off from long range, but it's the defense that has impressed me. They are picking up their tempo, and scoring about 10 more ppg than a few weeks ago, but only allowing about 5-6 points more. That's big. Lean to ATLANTA and the OVER.

Sacramento Kings @ Washington Wizards with a total of N/A;
I'll give Sacramento credit, they're fighting hard. They played Toronto tougher than I expected, though we managed to grab that line before the Tyreke news broke and squeaked out a cover. Oddsmakers, not surprisingly, are waiting to put this line out. Sacramento still can't win on the road, though, and I don't think anything other than a couple road W's is going to convince me to back them away from home. Washington definitely does rack up the wins on their floor, especially compared to the goose-egg on the road. This one is going to depend largely on the line. And in truth, I'd almost prefer Tyreke does play if oddsmakers are calling him a 2-point line shift. And if he doesn't play, the second game without him will probably be tougher than the first for the Kings. Beno Udrih ran wild on Jose Calderon's ghost defense, and John Wall won't be quite so easy to run past. I know it's simple handicapping, but I like WASHINGTON and the OVER.

San Antonio Spurs @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of N/A;
This is one of the weirdest season series I can remember in the last 5 years. The Spurs, the overwhelming favorite in every game, have beat Minnesota in all 3, but haven't yet covered. And sadly, because predecent isn't colossal in these spots, I'm at a little bit of a loss. Do the Timberwolves finally just get blown the heck out, or is this the game where Minnesota gets over the hump and actually wins the game outright? One thing I don't think happens is another close game. This makes for an interesting hedge opportunity. I believe the odds of another hard-fought loss for Minnesota are pretty low, so what you might do is take the Spurs small against the spread, put a little on Minnesota on the money line, and hope for a nice profitable underdog score. NO LEAN on the total.

Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets with a total of N/A;
You think Denver has trade on the brain? Three straight losses, to the Clippers, Kings, and Hornets. Yikes. Will a game against another scuffling team wake them up? It might, but Denver might be without its top two players before this game even begins. You can probably throw out most of the in-season stuff, thanks to Denver's fragile emotional state, but even if you wanted to account for it, these teams are 1-1 against each other, with each home team winning. Beyond that, there isn't much. Phoenix won its last game, a puffball contest with the Cleveland Cavaliers, so that doesn't tell us much. Fact is, both teams are struggling, so I'm not sure this is the best game to play, trying to pick between two teams that could both fail to show up. If you must, slight lean to PHOENIX and the OVER.

New York Knicks @ Portland Trailblazers (-3) with a total of 202.5;
I know this is a cop-out, but this is actually another game where I'm not 100% sold on either of two potential outcomes, and they're very far apart, in terms of final score. Portland is playing good basketball lately, led by LaMarcus Aldridge, and had a win against the Heat snatched out from under them by a late comeback. Do they bounce back? The Knicks laid an egg in Los Angeles in their last game, just getting completely owned on the glass, and Portland is among the other teams in the NBA that can impose themselves on the glass. We saw the key to beating New York is to force the tempo to a standstill, and just pound the ball inside on every play, which means, in my estimation, the best play on this game is to take an OVER prop on an interior Blazer, or an UNDER prop on someone that relies on playing fast. Forget the rest.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Los Angeles Lakers (-15) with a total of 199.5;
Woah. This is straight ugly. I basically don't make premium plays on spreads of this size, but I'll do my best to break things down. The Cavaliers simply cannot hang with any other NBA teams, especially on the road. It's that simple. This game comes down to whether the Cavs can shoot 55% from distance to stay around 8-10 down, or whether the reserves can cut into the lead and land a back door punch. I wouldn't back the Lakers to care enough to win by 20 again...that used up that energy against the Knicks. I also wouldn't back the Cavs, who just lost Anderson Varejao for the season, to compete with any team outside the League's bottom 5. There aren't any real strong look-aheads, and if the Lakers play angry again, they should cover. Still, my absolute best advice on this game is to just say NO to the side, tiny lean to the UNDER.

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