Monday, February 28, 2011

Knicks in Florida, Retread

Opener:

Day two of the "Link Experiment" is in full swing, and the overwhelmingly positive response on day one was certainly the fuel this old goat needs to power out not only the usual original content, but find some intriguing other destinations for your sponge-like brain grapes.

Today, everyone is going to be talking about 'Melo and the Knicks heading into Orlando to try to sweep the Florida Two-Step. Something tells me the Knicks don't hold another opponent to 42-43% from the field...

Sports Wagering: NBA

New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic (-7) with a total 213;
These teams last met on December 30th, and Orlando won that game by 9 as a 7.5-point favorite. For our purposes, we can probably just toss that game out the window. Orlando scored 113 points in a high-scoring affair, but since then, things have had a bit of a shake-up, especially in New York. The Knicks, meanwhile, are coming off a marquee win over the Heat, on the road, on Sunday afternoon ESPN. Everyone that was already buying into the Knicks hype machine just got a shot of ephedrine right into the left ventricle, which also means money is headed their way. Now, New York could conceivably put together another hard-fought win, capped by a late Billups three, but something tells me that Miami's weak shooting and rebounding that comes almost exclusively from the small forward was a better matchup for the Knicks than the Magic. Since Dwight Howard called out his teammates, Orlando has crushed the Thunder and Bobcats, playing stifling defense and shooting over 50%. The Knicks can't guard Howard, and while Melo and Amar'e will "get theirs" I just don't see the Knicks somewhat unimpressive, disjointed offense being enough to slow down a team that can get a ton of easy buckets when they're right. It's a lot to cover, but I lean to the MAGIC and the UNDER.


New Orleans Hornets @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
Toronto is so horrible...I just don't have words. Fact is, it's not easy to get blown out repeatedly at home - on the road is one thing, but at home that crowd is supposed to propel you to a few more made buckets and maybe a defensive stop or a rebound. For Toronto, not so much, and now Andrea Bargnani is dealing with another injury. I know, I know, they beat the Bulls, but that was a fluke. An expression gets tossed around a lot regarding situations like that one: "even a blind squirrel finds a nut." Sometimes folks stretch the meaning of that expression, but that was truly the case with the Raps. Toronto doesn't rebound well, they don't get ANY easy buckets, and thanks to extremely soft players at 3 of the 5 starting spots, and an equally soft bench, they can't stop anyone. For New Orleans, they're actually playing a little better the last 3 games. They did suffer a loss to the Rockets in their last tilt, but Houston was on double home revenge, and New Orleans is trying to work Okafor back from injury and add Carl Landry into the rotation. I think the Hornets are poised to make a tiny push with Landry leading the bench. They traded away the electricity of Marcus Thornton, but in return they got a reliable scorer and rebounder, and that's invaluable to one of the weaker benches. This game comes down to one note for me, though - Toronto is so bad right now that almost no spread is enough. Lean to the HORNETS, who I do NOT think look ahead to Knicks, and to the UNDER.

Dallas Mavericks (-1) @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of 201;
This game is a disaster, from a side-betting standpoint. The Mavericks went 11-1 SU in February, and 9-3 ATS, so they're cruising. The Sixers went just 7-5 ATS in February, but continue to put money in pockets, and as I've written a hundred times before, when two ATS champs go head to head, why bother? I'll give a few reasons, just for posterity, but you already all know where I'm headed. These teams haven't played since the second week of the season, a game Dallas won at home, pushing the spread. Doesn't matter. Dallas hosts Indiana in its next game, and Philly hosts Minnesota in its next game - completely innocuous opponents. Neither team is playing in a fatigue spot, and neither is dealing with large roster turnover. This game is just what it looks like - a wildly deep Dallas team that takes care of business on the road against a Philadelphia team that seems to get stronger by the month. I'm breaking out the gun for this one, putting it to my head, and force-leaning DALLAS, but barely, and both teams are hot from the field, so small lean to the OVER.

Golden State Warriors @ Indiana Pacers (-6) with a total of 215;
I'd like to launch into the strong angles at play in this game, but there aren't a great deal here, either. Golden State is playing its second game of a reasonably long road trip, and have lost 3 straight. Indiana is wrapping up a 4-game homestand, which very subtly should cause them to play a little harder and try to take some momentum on the road, but they've lost 2 in a row, as well. Someone has to win, though. What about revenge, you ask? Well, Indiana lost by 2 in Golden State in mid-January as a 5-point underdog. And now, with both teams rested, Indiana is laying 6. That's a pretty steep swing, considering both teams had their stars for that first meeting, and both do again, here. So are oddsmakers trying to tell us that the additional 5 points of line adjustment is because the Pacers had one hot stretch after a coaching change? I feel like I'm about to suggest you all run with scissors near a gate-less pool area, but sometimes you look at a game, size up what angles the teams present, and get a sensation in the gut. And, besides grumbling for dinner, my gut is telling me the Pacers win this game but fail to cover, just as Golden State did at home 45(ish) days ago. So, for so many reasons, and simultaneously for almost none, lean to the WARRIORS (not ML, though, that's for darn sure), and the OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers (-9.5) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total 205;
Those damn streaky Lakers have rattled off 4 straight wins and covers since the All Star Break, and while I'd love to get behind a Wolves team that got called out by its coach (and won its next game, a classic response), I'm not sure I can fade the Lakers when they're rolling. And hell, after trying unsuccessfully to do so on Sunday, the Lakers showed that they can shut down explosive offensive teams. Here's the bottom line - neither team is in a scheduling "spot," the Lakers have won both games this season, but the Wolves did cover 1 of the 2, which is probably a triumph for them, and those games came back in November. The way I see it, if Minnesota gets out to a strong start, it might not be a terrible idea to explore a second half play on either the Lakers or the Under, which would be the result of the Lakers ramping up defensively. Microscopic lean to the WOLVES, though I'd actually advice a pass on the side, and slight lean to the UNDER, given the Lakers recent re-commitment to defense.

San Antonio Spurs (-1) @ Memphis Grizzlies with a total 195;
This game is the second half of a home-and-home between these two teams, but of course, our lines are getting all discombobulated by the injury to Tony Parker. The Spurs were a 8.5-point home favorite, so we would have expected this game to appear somewhere between 1 and 2.5, varying based on revenge, but now it's tough to know exactly how much Tony Parker was worth. Was this line going to open at Spurs by 3, and dropped 2 points for Tony, or was it for revenge, and now, is the first move to Memphis because of Parker, or was THAT the revenge? However you shake it out, I'm trying to find a way to get on the Grizzlies. On top of the immediate revenge angle, the Grizzlies also dropped a game in San Antonio back in December, so Memphis is on double revenge, and Shane Battier is slowly figuring out all the little things Memphis is going to need him to do. For the Spurs, they don't lose a ton by bringing George Hill into the starting lineup, though Parker's ability to get to the bucket has been key in the Spurs up-tempo offense this year. I'm beating around the bush needlessly: lean to MEMPHIS and the OVER.


Detroit Pistons @ Milwaukee Bucks with a total of N/A;
I loathe handicapping Pistons games, lately, since we rarely know who's playing, and thanks to being within the Detroit radio area, I get to listen to the daily banter on the team. It sounds like, and this was sort of how I felt about the club anyway, Rip Hamilton is trying to work things out with Coach Kuester enough to get on the court, Tracy McGrady may or may not be truly hurt, Austin Daye gets playing time every so often, the fans go to games to see the opponents (when they're at home), and the team shows up about once every 4 or 5 games. In any case, Detroit has actually beaten the Bucks twice this year, once at each venue, so I'm inclined to think that, despite Milwaukee being the team asked to cover a spread (and they will be when the number comes out), and despite Andrew Bogut dealing with side pain, Milwaukee should want this game. Nobody likes to lose to the same team over and over, especially not one of the worst teams in the League and one that can't keep its problems behind closed doors. The Bucks are only 4 games out of the Playoff picture, and they know they need to do something quick if they have any shot. Lean to the BUCKS unless the number is outrageous, and the UNDER.

Houston Rockets @ Portland Trailblazers with a total of N/A;
What happened to the Blazers in that game with Atlanta? I still don't know. We didn't have any sort of play on the game, and Atlanta has certainly "woken up" after the trade deadline, but Portland just dozed its way through 3 quarters before trying, ultimately in vain, to come back in the 4th. Maybe some of it can be traced to fatigue, as Portland's overtime loss to the Lakers seems to have taken a slight toll, but Houston doesn't play much defense, and Portland would seem to match up well with the Rockets because of strength. That fact has played itself out in the two meetings that have occurred already this season. Of course, our normal course of action is to approach a game like this from the revenge side, and maybe that's where we should mosey. The Rockets are red hot, winners of 4 in a row (5, if you count Kevin Martin winning Player of the Week honors) and though the competition has been 75% fetid, the team has clearly built some confidence. Portland is in a mini-ATS slump, and my only concern is that the line might reflect that, and the value we could have nabbed with Houston might be diminished by Portland's 3-game ATS skid. We shall see. Without knowing the line, and without knowing the health of LaMarcus Aldridge, I would offer an early lean to the ROCKETS and a smaller lean to the OVER.

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