Sunday, February 27, 2011

An NBA Week Begins, Pt 18

Opener:

It's all business this week, after a strange weekend - teams that acquired a ton of new talent (Knicks, Utah, Denver) won their first games with new players and lost the second, while others (Thunder) lost two shorthanded contests. Still others (Cavs, Clippers, Trailblazers, Bobcats) are just now getting players into uniform

Sports Wagering: NBA

Chicago Bulls @ Washington Wizards with a total of N/A;
I think we all had a small inkling that the Wizards would come out fired up for that Mavs game after John Wall called his teammates mean names, but I can't say I'm quite positive how long the "effort" will last. Chicago is rolling, and outside of a look-ahead loss in Toronto, and an ugly one at that, this team is looking like they're pretty quickly adding Joakim Noah back to the mix. In the short term, Carlos Boozer has seen his production drop, but the energy level of Noah, combined with his ability to play on the road is going to help this team tremendously. And, while it's something we can cover in greater detail elsewhere, Boston's trade, in my opinion, brought them back to the pack, and if Chicago can improve on the road, they have as good a shot as anyone. Short term, this line is going to be huge, and I want almost no part of this game, or at least the side. In terms of revenge, Washington has lost twice to the Bulls, but I happen to believe the talent gap is such that revenge can mostly be tossed out here. We can, however, take a little something from the totals in those games. The first contest ended at 199, a bucket under the posted mark, and the second meeting featured just 167 combined points, well beneath the 194 posted mark. If oddsmakers bring this one out high, they might just tip their hand. Let's keep our eyes peeled. Tiny lean to WASHINGTON on the side, and looking to lean OVER, but time will tell.


Phoenix Suns (-1.5) @ New Jersey Nets with a total of 206;
The Nets lost in Phoenix earlier this year, somehow only as a 6-point underdog, and not surprisingly, based on that line, the Suns covered. Now, the rematch, with Phoenix somehow sneaking out an overtime win in Indiana after blowing a 10-point 4th quarter lead yesterday morning, and the Nets not looking a whole lot better with Deron Williams. Given time, I have to think Jersey will win at a slightly greater clip with Williams at the helm, but in the short term, while he's trying to get acclimated to his teammates, and while the Nets' shooters are battling injuries, I'm not sure I can get behind Jersey just yet. My concern with this game is more than the Suns seemed to run out of gas in the 4th quarter yesterday, so how will they finish today? This is the type of game where I start with the short home dog and try to talk myself out of it, and in this particular case, I believe I have enough evidence to support a move away from Jersey (new roster, apparent lack of chemistry and depth), but not sure I have enough to talk us onto Phoenix (not on revenge, playing back-to-back). If I had to offer a lean, I imagine I would continue to fade the team with new pieces and lean PHOENIX, and it looks like Jersey is running a tad more, so OVER.

Atlanta Hawks @ Denver Nuggets (-5.5) with a total of 200.5;
Believe it or not, Atlanta actually played really well the last time they flew into a difficult altitude spot, dominating the Utah Jazz with one of their hottest shooting nights of the season. In general, though, this is a very bad scheduling spot, and Atlanta is heading to Denver off a tough game with Portland on Sunday night. If Atlanta can twice take care of altitude back-to-backs, more power to them, and to their credit, they seem to be just a little more awake post-trade deadline than before. That's my one true reason to be cautious about a pure Atlanta fade. Of course, this one might just be as easy as playing against the exhausted road team, given Denver should be improving by the game with their new players, especially Raymond Felton, as he learns the Denver offense. Let's wait a bit and see how that late game goes in Portland - since, as I've noted before, a struggle would certainly help our current lean - which is to DENVER and the OVER.

Boston Celtics (-4) @ Utah Jazz with a total of 191;
Utah returns home off a 3-game road trip, which is roughly one game below the cutoff for road trips that we normally consider. Plus, Utah is going through a bit of a transition, with Devin Harris learning the ropes, and the team "becoming" property of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. And therein lies the issue - the Jazz have two solid big men, even if Millsap is a hair undersized, but no one on that team plays defense. Utah played plenty well to beat Detroit in their last game, but didn't guard the 3-point line at all, and doesn't seem concerned with defending. You just can't do that against the Celtics, or they will rip you apart. Of course, Boston is on the final game of a 4-game West Coast swing that began with the starting lineup heading to the All Star game, and they're dealing with the hurt of losing every big man on the roster...more or less. Will they be anxious to get home to host the Suns? I'm not sure that's a huge deal, since Boston has shown over the last 3-4 years an ability to take care of business in rough road trips. They have won both final games of 4 game trips this season, though each was relatively close to the cover. I'm torn. Utah and Boston are both in relatively tough spots, Boston has been in an offensive slump the last 2 nights (though they did win 1 of 2 thanks to strong defense), so the question is whether they snap out of it or Utah is able to grind out a cover. STILL MULLING over the side, and the OVER.


Los Angeles Clippers @ Sacramento Kings (-2) with a total of 207;
This is an awful spot for the Kings, returning home off a painfully long road trip that started on the 13th and spanned the All Star Break. On top of that, Sactown is set for its 5th game in 7 nights since the aforementoined Break. The Clippers, meanwhile, finished their 11 game road trip with an ugly loss at the Lakers (whatever that means), then opened their non-road slate with a home loss to the Celtics. Tonight, though, you have to think the Clippers are finally settling back into some sort of rhythm. They know this is a winnable game, they know they're done with the Lakers/Celtics duet of nearly unwinnable games, and they know Eric Gordon is about to come back. Chris Kaman has retaken the starting job from DeAndre Jordan (it seems, based on his work in the second half of the Clippers last game), and his offensive ability will drastically improve the Clippers interior play. It also seems that, based on the Kings last 2 games, the lack of Tyreke Evans is starting to catch up with them. If it wasn't totally obvious based on the paragraph leading up to this sentence, I lean CLIPPERS and the UNDER.

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