Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Not Snow Much

Opener:

Well, after all that, a large part of Southeast Michigan didn't get hit all that hard by what was supposed to be the worst storm in almost a decade.

Instead, we got some winds that knocked out cable/internet (curse you, Comcast), and just a little more snow to remove from vehicles before running errands. Call me crazy, but I rather wanted to see some truly nutty Midwest weather before moving back to sunny SoCal, but I guess I'll just have to be satisfied with saying I was near the storm...

Over in the NBA, games went as planned despite a few flight delays, and with a few days for workers to clear roads and airports, we might just be in the clear.

Also, something I'd like to try to do on the short Thursday cards moving forward is to talk a bit more about individual players in these opening remarks, and this week, I just want to throw props to Marcin Gortat. Steve Nash is turning yet another fairly athletic big man into a jam-master, so maybe I should be giving Nash the credit, but Gortat is playing his balls off in Phoenix, and his energy is rubbing off on teammates. I have to admit, an eavesdropper would have heard me laughing and yelling during the Phoenix-New Orleans game a couple days back every time Gortat dropped the Polish hammer on an unsuspecting Hornet. Truly awesome.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Miami Heat @ Orlando Magic (-2) with a total of 197;
This should be an excellent TNT early game. Unfortunately, in terms of betting angles, we're left a little high and dry. These two teams have faced off twice so far this NBA season, and each team won a home game as a listed 3.5-point favorite. Now, some time later, Orlando comes out as a slightly shorter home favorite, with a total almost 10 points higher. I would advise people not to read too much into the line. I don't believe the total is higher because oddsmakers are trying to bait you into taking any particular play, and I don't think the side is anything more than oddsmakers way of saying that they believe the Heat are just a hair better on a neutral site...and frankly, I agree. Miami plays significantly better defense than Orlando, and while the Magic have the clear edge near the bucket, Wade and James are each accomplished enough, and strong enough, to get to the hoop. Thus, with this game, I wouldn't look too much into any possible situational angles, since each team is going to want the game a good deal, and I don't believe there are any particularly intriguing scheduling quirks. Instead, keep it simple - the Heat are healthy again, and they have the pieces to keep the Magic from scoring. Miami will use the Boston Celtics strategy, and that is defend the pick-and-roll, and make Dwight Howard win the game. That will keep the game slow, and more to Miami's liking - leans to the HEAT and UNDER.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Golden State Warriors with a total of N/A;
To be honest, I'm not 100% sure why this line is off - I know Bogut was questionable for last night, but surely oddsmakers should know who is playing tonight based on yesterday's shootaround. Oh well. In any event, with Bogut fighting the pain of a bone bruise, Gooden out for a month, Jennings with a minute cap, and Salmons still ailing, the Bucks health, while improving, continues to be the story. The Warriors, meanwhile, remain a strong offensive home team, and though they lost 4 straight to some solid competition, a slight boost in defensive intensity went a long way in Golden State's win over Utah. I believe some of that carries over into this game. The Bucks are going to be coming off a sprint with Phoenix, though Milwaukee has shown an ability to play well in back-to-back spots. Still, for the Bucks, this is the final game of a short 3-game road trip, so I believe that their effort in this one is going to depend heavily on how the contest in Phoenix goes. If Milwaukee gets a win in Phoenix, we might see a slightly lesser effort - if Milwaukee gets dominated in Phoenix, they could very well give a little extra and try to head home with a win. Tough call, especially this early, but based on what I foresee happening in Arizona, slight lean to the WARRIORS and the UNDER (with the side lean subject to change).

San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Lakers with a total of N/A;
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times - as Pau Gasol goes, so go the Lakers, and lately, Gasol is bashful in the lane. In the Lakers recent losses to the Kings and Celtics, Gasol was barely involved, and in the Lakers overtime win against the Rockets, Gasol was firing up running hook shots and fadeaway jumpers. Who does this guy think he is? Back a fool down, put it in the bucket, and give the other giant Lakers a chance to grab an offensive rebound with sheer power alone. Of course, we've seen spots like this where the Lakers look hapless going into a big game, and then suddenly turn it on. I'm not sure I'm on board this time. Looking back through the schedule, the Lakers were able to take their physicality up a notch in two spots - against the Knicks and Thunder. When the Lakers were asked to bang and bruise with the Celtics, Heat, and one might even add the Hornets, the Lakers went 1-2 SU and a perfect goose-egg, ATS. The Spurs are going to make the Lakers work, and they're not going to be intimidated by Staples Center or the Lakers size advantage. And on top of that, the Lakers might be without Andrew Bynum for another game or two, and if he does play, the kid isn't at full strength. Without the Gasol-Bynum frontcourt, the Lakers are still a very good team, but not invested enough in the regular season to crush spirits. The one big note working in the Lakers' favor, though, is that this is a revenge game, and for all their issues, the Lakers are not awful on revenge. The Spurs held them to just 82 points in Texas in late December, so I'd expect some better offensive execution, though I hold firm to my thought that this one isn't going to be a runaway for LA. Leans to the SPURS (if we can get more than a couple points) and the OVER.

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