Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Showdown on Parquet

Opener:

This opener is easy - just take a look at the TNT early game. It's time for mayhem, for a number of reasons. The Lakers head into the TD Garden for a rematch with the Celtics, losing in LA not but a week and change back, Ray Allen is within a single three-pointer of Reggie Miller for the all-time mark, Reggie Miller will be doing his best to butcher the broadcast courtside, and Paul Pierce is battling the flu. It's perfect.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics (-3.5) with a total of 187.5;
I guess the question is whether the Celtics desire or Lakers revenge is more important, and on the surface, it's tough to say. Boston was a 3-point underdog in Los Angeles and beat the pants off the Lakers with a dominant second half. It probably also didn't hurt Boston's cause that they shot an absurd 60% from the field in that game, including 9-of-17 from distance. Boston outrebounded the Lakers 43 to just 30, and despite turning it over at a greater clip, those outrageous shooting numbers were far more than the Lakers could overcome. Yes, the Celtics are the best shooting team in the NBA, but 60% for a game against the Lakers massive front line is a sure indicator that those bigs just weren't involved. The box score bears that out, as well: Pau Gasol was just 5-for-13 from the field, Ron Artest was 1-for-10, and got benched when it was clear to the Zen Master that Ron-Ron just had his head somewhere else. The simple solution would be to come out in this game and play with a purpose, but will they? Gasol has a track record of playing a little soft in big, regular-season games, and no one knows what to expect from Artest on a game-to-game basis. The difference-maker, in my opinion, is going to be Andrew Bynum. The kid logged only 28 minutes in the last meeting, picking up 5 fouls that curtailed his aggression. If he can keep his cool and defend without fouling, this game should be a heck of a lot more of a slugfest, and consequently, anyone's game. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one come down to the final shot, so with that in mind, I lean slightly to LAKERS, but the fact that the last game hit 205 points, and this total only moved 1.5 points, well, that pushes me to the UNDER.

Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns (-6) with a total of 217;
Can the Warriors finally wake up and give the Suns a better game? I'm honestly a little surprised at the ownage Phoenix is flexing over Golden State this season, since, on paper, these games should be about as close a back-and-forth game as we can expect between any two teams. Oh well - guess that's why they play. However you cut it, Golden State is now on double home-revenge with a team they should be able to handle. Certainly, the large line is a result of the Warriors playing a late game with Denver last night and creating a scheduling fatigue spot that could only be worsened if Phoenix was at an altitude. Still, we've seen teams make this trip and perform just fine (Charlotte, most recently, from NorCal to Arizona), and I'm inclined to believe the Warriors take offense to the way the Suns have slapped them around at Oracle Arena. The Suns have been far better this year as the underdog, a flimsy defense keeping them from covering spreads as a favorite, and this game falls right into that wheelhouse. If the Warriors could perhaps consider making a 3-pointer and cracking 70% from the free throw line in a game with the Suns, they SHOULD be able to hang right with them. Instead, the Warriors almost seem like they try to change their style of play to mess with Phoenix, and instead, it just ends up creating discontinuity on offense and ugly basketball. I think the WARRIORS get things squared away and get off to a better start, and some game in this series has to go OVER, doesn't it?

Dallas Mavericks @ Denver Nuggets with a total of N/A;
Road warriors in Denver, but both teams flying into altitude off a West coast game the night before. This game has sluggish plastered all over it. This game also has "wait and see how the two teams handle the Bay Area" before making a play. If we are going to look at this game in a vacuum, however, you have to like Dallas. The Mavericks play the better defense between these two teams, they aren't afraid of Denver (or the Pepsi Center), and they're hotter. The teams split the two meetings earlier this year, with each club taking care of business on the road, and I don't see any reason why that trend doesn't continue. Denver has been decidedly Melo-centric, and that is not a way for them to win games. Everyone else bails out on defense, and the fast breaks disappear. Again, though, let's see if either of these teams has especially easy or difficult games on Wednesday night that could impact them, here. Also worth noting that this game is an 8:30 local start, meaning that the time difference is not a factor. The altitude and back-to-backs are, and somehow Dallas has shown a knack for keeping the defensive intensity even when tired. I can't argue with the fact that Dallas allows fewer points on back-to-backs than the team's season defensive average (93.5 vs. 94.6). Lean to DALLAS and while my brain is currently debating whether sluggishness will lead to missed shots or missed defensive assignments, I want to see the line, but early tilt to the UNDER.

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